In case you missed it, the Kings on Sunday assigned Peter Budaj to Ontario of the American Hockey League, ending a training camp battle with Jeff Zatkoff for backup goaltending duties. Zatkoff signed a two-year, $1.8-million free-agent contract last summer to be Jonathan Quick’s fill-in this season.
There was no formal announcement of their assignment to Ontario of the AHL on Monday, but forwards Adrian Kempe and Michael Mersch and defensemen Paul LaDue and Kurtis MacDermid didn’t join the Kings for their practice and there were no longer locker stalls with their names on them in the dressing room.
NHL opening-night rosters must be set by 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The Ontario Reign, the Kings’ American Hockey League team, lost to the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ affiliate, in a shootout in an exhibition game Thursday morning at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Ondrej Kase scored the winner in a shootout to give the Gulls a 4-3 victory.
Miles Koules’ third-period goal capped the Reign’s rally from a 3-1 deficit and sent the game to overtime. Corey Ward and Lucas Lessio also scored for the Reign, and Jack Flinn and Jonah Imoo split the goaltending duties. The teams play again Monday at the Honda Center.
The Kings on Monday assigned 15 players to the Reign, who begin training camp Tuesday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Joining the Reign were: forwards Michael Amadio, Justin Auger, Sean Backman, Patrick Bjorkstrand, Paul Bissonnette, Joel Lowery, Justin Gutierrez, T.J. Hensick, Sam Herr, Lucas Lessio and Brett Sutter; defensemen Erik Cernak, Alex Lintuniemi, Damir Sharipzianov; and goalie Jack Flinn to Ontario.
The Kings also returned forward Austin Wagner (Regina) and defenseman Chaz Reddekopp (Victoria) to their teams in the junior-level Western Hockey League. Actually, this happened Saturday.
The Kings placed four players on waivers Monday, including goaltender Peter Budaj. Other teams have until 9 a.m. (PT) to claim any or all of the four: Budaj, goalie Jack Campbell, forward Andrew Crescenzi and defenseman Vincent LoVerde. The Kings retain their rights if they’re not picked.
Of the four, Budaj would seem to have the best chance to be claimed by another NHL team. He was 42-14-4 with a 1.75 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 60 games last season with the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
The moves Monday all but assure the Kings’ backup goalie to start the season will be Jeff Zatkoff, who signed a two-year, $1.8-million free-agent contract last summer. Zatkoff will serve as Jonathan Quick’s backup in 2016-17 after appearing in 14 games last season with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He was 4-7-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.
Notes from the Kings’ split-squad practice Saturday …
–Injured winger Marian Gaborik was back in El Segundo. He didn’t speak to reporters about the broken foot he suffered while playing with Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey. He was wearing a protective walking-boot style cast on his right foot and needed the aid of crutches to get around the training facility.
–Jonathan Quick practiced with the B Group of players, but it remained to be determined when he would make his exhibition debut in goal, according to assistant coach David Payne. Quick could play in Sunday’s exhibition against the Ducks at Honda Center. Or it could come in exhibitions Friday or Saturday in Las Vegas.
–There’s no exact timetable for the return of Drew Dougty, Anze Kopitar and Jake Muzzin from the World Cup, Payne said. The three are due some rest and recovery time after Doughty and Muzzin’s Team Canada defeated Kopitar’s Team Europe in the two-game World Cup final. They mighty not play in any exhibitions.
–The Kings’ A Group, which includes Jeff Carter, will face the Edmonton Oilers in an exhibition Sunday in Vernon, British Columbia. Darryl Sutter will coach the team. The Kings’ B team faces the Ducks with Payne and Mike Stothers, coach of the Ontario Reign of the AHL, behind the bench at Honda Center.
The Ontario Reign will announce their new logo and colors for their inaugural 2015-16 season in the American Hockey League during a ceremony at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena. Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ vice president of business operations, and Rob Blake, the team’s assistant general manager, are scheduled to attend the ceremony, as is David Andrews, the AHL president. Reign president Darren Abbott also will be on hand.