As the Kings continue to trim their roster, they placed defenseman Paul LaDue on waivers today. Other teams have 24 hours to claim him; otherwise, he will be sent to the Ontario Reign.
LaDue, a 2012 sixth round pick in the NHL Draft, spent three seasons at the University of North Dakota before making his professional debut in the 2016-17 season. He split his first two seasons between the Kings and the Reign. He spent the entirety of the 2018-19 season with the Kings, recording five points over 33 games.
While LaDue has fit in well at the AHL level, he’s yet to catch on in the NHL, with Darryl Sutter, John Stevens, and Willie Desjardins all passing by him for other players. Although he was at one point thought of as nearly untouchable in a trade situation, many other promising young defensemen brought into the Kings system have leapfrogged over LaDue.
If LaDue clears waivers, he will join a crowded blue line in Ontario where he will be competing for ice time with some of those same young players who have bumped him down the depth chart.
Forward Mario Kempe was also placed on waivers for purposes of assigning him to the Reign. The elder Kempe brother is playing in his third season in North America; he previously split time between the Arizona Coyotes and Tucson Roadrunners. If he goes unclaimed, Kempe would be an easy player to call up if the Kings need to fill a fourth line-type role or if they need an extra body to take on a long road trip.
Additionally, the Kings assigned forward Nikolai Prokhorkin to the Ontario Reign on Saturday. He did not need to pass through waivers to be assigned. While he had some strong performances early in training camp, Prokhorkin’s long and winding road to the NHL continues. Jon Rosen reported that while Prokhorkin does have an out clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the KHL, that clause doesn’t kick in immediately. Prokhorkin will be able to spend some time in Ontario further adjusting to the style of play here before he and the team have to make a decision on his future.
With these moves, that brings the Kings down to 13 forwards — including Carl Grundstrom, Blake Lizotte, and Austin Wagner, the only players who would not need to pass through waivers — and eight defensemen — with Tobias Bjornfort, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker being exmept from waivers. The defenseman lineup does not include Derek Forbort, who will open the season on injured reserve. It does include both Kurtis MacDermid and Joakim Ryan. One more move could be coming if the Kings don’t want to carry eight defensemen (not including Forbort).