The Kings preseason camp is slowly coming to a close, and as sad as that might be for some of the players who have not yet made the impression they were hoping to make, it’s great news for Kings fans worldwide, because it means the season is getting ready to start. With game 1 of the 2011-2012 season set for a week from Friday (October 7th), I’m sure I’m not alone in getting excited to see where this new Kings team will be able to perform.
With that in mind, the Kings have made a number of expected cuts, sending JF Berube, Robert Czarnik, Rob Mignardi, Justin Johnson, Marc-Andre Cliche, Rich Clune, and David Meckler to Manchester, and Michal Cajkovksy, Alex Roach and Colin Miller back to juniors. The roster has been reduced to the following:
Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Jeff Zatkoff
Justin Azevedo, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Simon Gagne, Trent Hunter, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Andrei Loktionov, Ethan Moreau, Jordan Nolan, Scott Parse, Dustin Penner, Mike Richards, Brad Richardson, Jarret Stoll, Kevin Westgarth, Justin Williams
Andrew Campbell, Davis Drewiske, Matt Greene, Thomas Hickey, Jack Johnson, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell, Jake Muzzin, Rob Scuderi, Slava Voynov
Let’s be clear, this is basically (with one major exception) the roster that the Kings were expecting to have going into the last few preseason games. There are a handful of players here that I think are going to end up back in Manchester, but are being given a bit of extra time as a reward for a strong camp. Obviously in goal the fact that Zatkoff is still here is more insurance and experience than anything. He’s not going to beat out either Jonathan, but he has performed well, and when the time comes, gives the Kings a bit of flexibility to deal one of their keepers for an important piece of the puzzle.
Up front, there are a few players that are likely not going to make the big squad, at least on anything other than a sporadic basis. Namely Justin Azevedo and Jordan Nolan. While I’d be somewhat surprised to see King stick around, it’s certainly possible that he locks down one of the spots on the lower two lines, especially if Scott Parse continues to be unimpressive in camp. There are 19 players in camp that play forward, which means between 5 and 7 are likely to be cut by the time the roster gets down to its fighting weight. I see the 5 being Nolan, King, Azevedo, and ideally Westgarth, with Fraser being out injured for a while.
On the blue line, with Muzzin hurt, and Drewiske being custom-made to spend time in the press box, there is at least one spot open with Doughty out. I see Campbell utlimately headed back to Manchester, and likely Voynov and Hickey battling for the last spot. Per Terry Murray, Voynov is a bit ahead of Hickey at the moment, but I would expect both of them to be called on plenty in these last few preseason games in an attempt to crystallize that decision in the minds of management. Since Lombardi often keeps at least one or two strong players on board for the start of the season as a result of a good camp, I can see both of them making the team out of camp, especially if Doughty remains unsigned.
These last three games are going to be fascinating, as the team starts to take shape. I would expect to see Murray tinkering with lines significantly (I know, who would have guessed?) as he tries to figure out the best way to start the season. Regardless, I’m excited to see these new Kings, and their fancy-pants logos hit the ice in just over a week. Who’s with me!?
Tags: Alec Martinez Alex Roach Andrei Loktionov Andrew Campbell Anze Kopitar Brad Richardson Colin Fraser Colin Miller David Meckler Davis Drewiske Drew Doughty Dustin Brown Dustin Penner Dwight King Ethan Moreau Jack Johnson Jake Muzzin Jarret Stoll Jeff Zatkoff JF Berube Jonathan Bernier Jonathan Quick Jordan Nolan Justin Azevedo Justin Johnson Justin Williams Kevin Westgarth Kyle Clifford Los Angeles Kings Marc-Andre Cliche Matt Greene Michal Cajkovksy Mike Richards Rich Clune Rob Mignardi Rob Scuderi Robert Czarnik Scott Parse Simon Gagne Slava Voynov Thomas Hickey Trent Hunter Trevor Lewis Willie Mitchell