The Kings began this pre-season with 87 players on their roster. As with all NHL teams they have over the last three weeks undergone the process of cutting that roster down to the final 23 slots allowed by the league. At the beginning of training camp last month the kings had five goalies, 20 defensemen, and 62 forwards on their pre-season roster. On September 27th the Kings assigned 23 players for the Ontario Reign, Jordan Nolan was picked up off of waivers and several other players were sent to junior teams in the OHL or WHL. This left the Kings with 33 players remaining on their roster. As of yesterday they are down to their final 23 players.
The forwards who made the cut were: Andy Andreoff (LW), Jonny Brodzinski (C), Dustin Brown (RW), Michael Cammalleri (C), Jeff Carter (C), Kyle Clifford (LW), Nic Dowd (C), Alex Iafallo (C), Adrian Kempe (LW), Anze Kopitar (C), Trevor Lewis (C), Tanner Pearson (LW), Nick Shore (C), and Tyler Toffoli (C). On the Defensive lines the Kings kept Drew Doughty (R), Oscar Fantenberg (L), Christian Folin (R), Derek Forbort (L), Kurtis MacDermid (R), Alec Martinez (L), and Jake Muzzin (L). The two remaining goaltenders are of course, Jonathan Quick, and Darcy Kuemper. On the injured list are players Marion Gaborik (RW), Gabriel Vilardi (C), and Austin Wagner (LW). Vilardi and Wagner will likely go back down to the Reign when healthy. Gaborik will remain on the Kings roster when healthy, or until they can either trade him or buy out his contract.
In the pre-season the Kings played seven games, and had a 5-2 record. The Kings lost their first pre-season game to the Canucks 4-3. They then played two exposition games in China against Vancouver both of which they won. The other game they lost to was against the Ducks, it was played during the time that the veteran Kings players were all in China, so it was a bit of an uneven match up from the start.
Scoring for the Kings during pre-season, of the players who made the final cut, were: Jake Muzzin with two goals, Dustin Brown with 1 goal, Oscar Fantenberg with 1goal, Tanner Pearson with two goals, Adrian Kempe with 1 goal, Jeff Carter with two goals, Alec Martinez with 1 goal, Jake Muzzin with two goals, Tyler Toffoli with one goal, Johnny Brodznski with one goal, Nick Shore with one goal, Nic Dowd with one goal, Drew Doughty with one goal, Mike Cammalleri with two goals, and Kurtis MacDermid with one goal.
A notable name missing from this list is captain Anze Kopitar. In the pre-season games, I saw Kopitar did take several good shots, just unfortunately none of them made it in. He was playing strong defensively and tallied up two assists in these seven games as well. I believe that his play is stronger and more focused than what we saw from him last season. Hopefully, in the first few games of the regular season, he can put up some goals for the Kings as well.
There were also several players who were sent back down to the minors or junior leagues who played well and scored for the Kings in the pre-season. Goals were scored by Justin Auger (1), Matt Luff (1), and Brooks Liach (1). Assists were made by Michael Amadio (2), Kevin Gravel (1), Andrei Loktionov (1).
I also attended the Kings pre-season game against the Ducks on 9/22, the game where all of the Kings first string players were still in China. As a result, I got to see a lot of the younger guys who went back down to the minors play. In addition to the players above who scored points in the pre-season, the players I noticed most were our younger goalie prospects. Campbell started the game and played for the first half. He made several great saves and had good awareness of his team and what he needed to do to help them both offensively and defensively. Cal Peterson took over in net part way through the 2nd, and while he let in more goals than Campbell, I still feel he played well given his level of experience. He had one really amazing save during his time in net as well. Peterson definitely needs some seasoning, but he has the potential to shape up into a strong and competitive goalie.
Michael Mersch was another player who showed a lot of promise, I was a little bit sad to see him go back down to the Reign.
All of these guys are definitely prospects worth watching to see how they develop. The two I would most like to see get some NHL time again in the coming seasons would be Micheal Mersch and Kevin Gravel. I know there is only so much room on the roster, and they are both very young and relatively inexperienced, but I was sad to see them cut from the final roster.
The Kings have their first game of the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday 10/5. The projected lineup will be:
First line: Alex Iafallo (LW), Anze Kopitar (C), Dustin Brown (LW)
Defense: Derek Forbort (L), Drew Doughty (R)
Second line: Tanner Pearson (LW), Jeff Carter (C), Tyler Toffoli (RW)
Defense: Jake Muzzin (L), Alec Martinez (R)
Third line: Jonny Brodzinski (LW), Adrian Kempe (C), Michael Cammalleri (RW)
Defense: Oscar Fantenberg (L), Christian Folin (R)
Jonathan Quick will likely start in Goal.
This first game against the Flyers is a good opening game of the season it should be a strong competitive game that the Kings have a good chance of winning. Their first real challenge of the season will come on Saturday 10/7 when they have their first away game of the season against inter-state rival San Jose Sharks. Hopefully the Kings will fare better in that game than they did in last year’s season opener in San Jose. In any case, I am really excited to see how the first week of the NHL regular season goes for all 31 teams in the league!