Here’s what Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had to say about the play of defenseman Brayden McNabb, acquired Wednesday from the Buffalo Sabres:
“He fills a huge hole for us down the road. He’s already paid his dues in the minors and had a couple of cups of coffee in the NHL. He’s closer to being ready than if I had to do a deal with a junior kid. He’s got size, he can move the puck and he has a long reach. He’s over-aggressive, which I like, but we can tame the lion.”
As expected, with the Olympic break over, the Kings recalled rookie goaltender Martin Jones from their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H., and sent goalie J.F. Berube back to the minors. Jones, who is 8-4-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average, is expected to serve as Jonathan Quick’s backup for the rest of the season. The Kings return to the ice Wednesday to face the Colorado Avalanche. Berube has appeared in 34 games this season, all with Manchester.
Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at the Kings’ morning skate at Toyota Sports Center. No surprise that he will start and Martin Jones will be the backup. That’s been the case in six of the Kings’ last seven games.
Speaking of backup goalies, there will be another mini-reunion at Staples Center tonight. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi got plenty of ink yesterday (including here), and rightfully so after playing an integral role in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012.
Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff never appeared a game in a Kings uniform, but he has plenty of friends in the home dressing room. Zatkoff, who’s expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury tonight, was at one time a teammate with Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Jones at AHL Manchester. The 26-year-old was a third-round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio in 2006 by the Kings. He was buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. In hindsight, he might have had to wait until this year to play an NHL game in Los Angeles.
1 p.m. update: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Zatkoff is starting tonight.
The Kings recalled forward Linden Vey from their American Hockey League club in Manchester, N.H. He had five assists in 14 games earlier this season for the Kings. He also had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 20 games for Manchester. The 22-year-old will join the Kings in St. Louis for their game Thursday against the Blues. It’s the first of eight games away from Staples Center for the Kings, which also includes the Jan. 25 game against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium.
Sometimes the headline tells the whole story, sometimes it doesn’t. This is one time when it does. Tyler Toffoli wasn’t producing, so the Kings sent the 21-year-old forward to their minor-league affiliate at Manchester, N.H. Toffoli had 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 33 games for the Kings this season. But he also has an 11-game drought without a goal and he scored only once in his last 16 contests. He was the face of the Kings’ recent scoring woes. They haven’t had a goal from a third- or fourth-line player in about a month. They have scored only one goal in each of their last two games, a win over Vancouver and a loss to Detroit.
Here’s the second part of a group question-and-answer session with Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford:
Question: How’s he (Martin Jones) doing it? Who is this guy and how’s he doing it?
Ranford: “It’s simple. He put the work in. It’s all on him. There’s things over the last couple of years of his development that we’ve asked him to do to get him ready to step into the NHL, and he’s done that. He’s the type of kid I think from the very first day he’s stepped into this building, there was a professionalism about him, the way he approaches his position and his work-ethic and how he’s grown as a goalie down in Manchester and that’s really what it’s all about, developing and putting the work in. That’s on him.”
The Kings re-assigned defenseman Jeff Schultz to their American Hockey League affiliate at Manchester, N.H. Schultz did not play with the Kings, who recalled him last week. He has played in 23 games for the Monarchs this season, scoring two points (one goal, one assist). The move clears the way for Matt Greene’s return from injured reserve. Greene has been sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Injuries to forwards Jeff Carter (foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) left the Kings will no choice but to recall Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey from their American Hockey League affiliate at Manchester (N.H.). The three rookies have made their impact in recent games, but some have been more impactful than others, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
Scott Sabourin made quite an impression on the Kings during training camp. He was aggressive and effective during limited action during exhibition games and the Kings rewarded him Monday with a three-year entry-level contract. The 21-year-old Sabourin had one goal and seven penalty minutes in two exhibitions. He will likely play this season with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League. But a promotion isn’t out of the question at some point in 2013-14. He had 50 points and 142 penalty minutes last season with the junior-level Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. He later jointed the Monarchs for the final five regular-season games plus three playoff contests.
So, it turns out Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli will play together again this season. The Kings loaned them to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Those three formed the Monarchs’ top line last season, before Toffoli was recalled by the Kings late in the lockout-shortened NHL season. They played together at times during training camp with the Kings and in exhibitions. But there was simply no room for them on the Kings’ roster, which had to be trimmed to 23 by Monday.