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Kevin Gravel Gets the Call, Tom Gilbert Awaits Hearing

Gilbert’s hit on Nick Ritchie might be suspension-worthy, so here comes another defenseman.

Anaheim Ducks v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a brief Rob Scuderi scare (Happy Halloween!), the Los Angeles Kings did eventually call up the defenseman we all expected to see with the big club. This morning, Kevin Gravel made his way to LA.

With Brayden McNabb on injured reserve for at least a few games, LA was already going to have a tough time getting by with only six defensemen. That became tougher when Tom Gilbert drilled Nick Ritchie on Tuesday with what appeared to be a clean hit live; however, the second angle on replay shows why Gilbert is currently in a hearing with the Department of Player Safety.

Gilbert’s never been suspended and it doesn’t seem like there was malicious intent, but the contact to the head might be enough for him to sit for a game or two. (Ritchie missed Wednesday’s game, which certainly won’t help Gilbert’s cause.)

Last season, Gravel played five games for the Kings and generally looked as advertised: poised, defensively sound, and with just enough speed to complement his size and reach. Asked by Sheng Peng about something that impressed him from Gravel’s cup of coffee, here’s what GM Dean Lombardi pointed to:

You saw some good things with him. He did some things that...everybody talks about how he caught that guy from Calgary with his speed. The problem is, he made a mistake in the neutral zone. The beauty of it was he has the skill level to actually come back and catch a guy like that. He moves extremely well. Well, let's not cause that fire drill in the first place. His ability to go back and get pucks...it's very different at the NHL level. They're bigger, stronger, faster...not that it's not hard down here too. But you saw enough of him to say, "You know, that's a pretty good play. Now you gotta make it seven out of 10 times."

Gravel didn’t get to start the year with LA largely because he was waiver-exempt, but he’s here now. Let’s see what he can do.