Training Camp II: The Cuts Continue

Most of these players will form the foundation of the Ontario Reign. Plus thoughts on Weal, O'Neill, Forbort, and Berube.

And then there were 34. This afternoon, the Kings made significant cuts to their training camp roster:

Assigned to Ontario (AHL):

Justin Auger – RW

Patrik Bartosak – G

Jonny Brodzinski – C

Nic Dowd – C

Nick Ebert – D

Kevin Gravel – D

Adrian Kempe – LW

Maxim Kitsyn – LW

Zachary Leslie – D

Alex Lintuniemi – D

Kurtis MacDermid – D

Alex Roach – D

Scott Sabourin – RW

Valentin Zykov – RW

Released from Pro Tryout:

Sean Backman – RW

Paul Bissonnette – LW

Ryan Horvat – LW

Kevin Raine – D

Backman, Bissonnette, Horvat, and Raine are all expected to play in Ontario.

Interesting names left?

Jordan Weal, Brian O'Neill, and Andy Andreoff, who are competing for two forward spots, remain. Weal and Andreoff probably hold the edge as of right now. Andreoff plays a heavier game than the smaller Weal and O'Neill, so he's probably safe, while the 23-year-old Weal is a much brighter prospect than the 27-year-old reigning AHL MVP. Weal has also outperformed O'Neill halfway through the preseason.

The trio faces waivers if sent down to Ontario, so it's been suggested that LA might send down Nick Shore, who is still waivers-exempt, to give Weal, O'Neill, and Andreoff a longer look. That, however, seems unlikely, unless you think that the organization has O'Neill in their long-term plans.

That the waiver-exempt Michael Mersch wasn't in this round of cuts is a testament to his performance so far this preseason. He has shown a real nose for the net and soft hands. However, he doesn't appear to be a threat to crack the opening-night lineup. The expectation that "he’d spend another half a season in the AHL before he’d be re-evaluated for a chance at a mid-season call-up" remains. How he responds this fall to potentially losing both Weal and O'Neill from his line is something to keep an eye on.

Among defensemen, recent second-round pick Erik Cernak hasn't been sent down, but Jon Rosen believes it's just a matter of time.

Derek Forbort, Jeff Schultz, and Jamie McBain will continue their battle for the seventh spot on the blueline. As of now, however, the waiver-exempt Forbort, who has played competently in the preseason, doesn't appear to have done enough to dislodge veterans Schultz and McBain from pole position.

Both Peter Budaj and J.F. Berube remain with the big club. So far, it doesn't appear that either will push backup Jhonas Enroth out. Veteran Budaj will probably be released at the end of camp to seek his fortunes elsewhere. Berube is also due to face waivers. Will another team claim him?

The Kings could carry three goalies to start the season, but at the expense of a seventh defenseman or 14th forward, that's highly unlikely. They could trade Berube, but how much of a market is there for an untested goalie who lacks significant pedigree? There also doesn't seem to be a clear spot for Berube anywhere in the NHL. Most teams seem pretty settled with their backups, and the ones who aren't already have proven vets in camp, such as Boston with Jonas Gustavsson and Tampa Bay with Ray Emery.

My guess is he gets sent down without being claimed; we'll see soon what the rest of the NHL thinks of Berube.