The preseason marches on! Before we get to the players who are still with the Los Angeles Kings, and before we get to the players who will remain in the organization even after being cut today, let’s give a quick nod in Jordan Nolan’s direction. Nolan was waived yesterday, along with Jeff Zatkoff, and today the Buffalo Sabres snapped him up off waivers. Our sister site in Buffalo, understandably, views it as a depth move, and it makes sense to add Nolan to their roster at no cost.
For the Kings, though, Nolan was pretty much out of time. The team’s 12th forward even at the best of times, Nolan, was simply getting squeezed out by a longer-tenured, more consistent Kyle Clifford and a younger, more-versatile Andy Andreoff. With Adrian Kempe and Jonny Brodzinski poised to open the season in LA, there was no place for Nolan.
At this time, there’s no place for Michael Mersch, either. Along with Andrew Crescenzi, Mersch hit waivers this morning. For Mersch, who turns 25 in a week, a consistent 2016-17 in the AHL and a final preseason game that impressed at least two of our writers was not enough to make the 23-man roster. Mersch is an ideal candidate for an injury call-up if he survives waivers, but for the time being, he’ll remain stuck on 17 career NHL games.
Where does that leave us? Still with a bunch of players, technically, but there is every indication that the roster is going to shrink considerably today. We’ll update this post when it officially happens, but here’s a preview of the Kings’ slimmed-down roster:
Significant cuts coming; lines are 23-11-76, 70-77-73, 15-39-14, 13-21-22, 78-25-26-79; 24-8, 6-27, 48-5, 3-38-56. 32/35/1. 12 not w/ group.— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) September 27, 2017
If this is indeed a list of players that are still around (plus the injured Gaborik), it means curtains for most of the roster that defeated Vegas yesterday. Justin Auger, Kurtis MacDermid, Christian Folin, Nic Dowd, and Jack Campbell are among the non-guaranteed Kings who would be exposed to waivers if sent down, and they’ve done enough to stick around a bit longer. It’s also good news for Brooks Laich and Chris Lee, longer shots to crack the Kings who nonetheless see their Professional Tryout Experience extended, and Alex Iafallo and Oscar Fantenberg, who are building on impressive preseasons. But I’d argue no one is feeling better than Jonny Brodzinski up on Kopitar’s wing; line combos are still hypothetical at this point, but getting that slot so close to Opening Night is an excellent sign for his chances.
I won’t list off the players who are being demoted to the AHL or returned to juniors, because we’ll get that list soon enough, and I’ll certainly miss someone if I try to name them all. The only mild surprise is Kevin Gravel, who will start in Ontario after spending most of 2016-17 in the NHL, but that writing was on the wall when the China rosters were announced. We’ll have to wait just a bit longer to see who the Kings retain to start the season.
[EDIT, 2:15 PM: The Kings have released their list of roster cuts.
Alex Lintuniemi, Boko Imama, Cal Petersen, Chaz Reddekopp, Kevin Gravel, Matt Luff, Matt Roy, Mike Amadio, Spencer Watson, Stepan Falkovsky, and Zac Leslie have been assigned to the Reign. They’ll be joined at Ontario training camp by the following players who aren’t on an NHL contract: Brett Sutter, Jamie Devane, Keegan Iverson, Matt Marcinew, Matt Schmalz, Philippe Maillet, Sam Herr, Sam Kurker, Sean Walker, TJ Hensick, and Tomas Sholl.
In addition, Andrei Loktionov has been released from his PTO, and Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Kale Clague will go back to their junior teams.]