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 Kings placed forward Michael Latta and defenseman Rob Scuderi on waivers Monday. The other 29 teams in the NHL have until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, to claim them. If no one does, then the Kings will retain their rights and could assign them to Ontario of the American Hockey League, a likely scenario for both.
The Kings placed winger Marian Gaborik on injured reserve Thursday, retroactive to Sept. 25, because of a broken right foot he suffered during Team Europe’s semifinal victory over Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Gaborik was injured when he was struck by a puck shot by teammate Mats Zuccarello in the second period. The Kings expect Gaborik to be sidelined for about two months.
“The toughest part of his injury, you know a lot of times those boot injuries you can start walking, but he can’t,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Gaborik. “It’s got to be non-weight bearing, just the way it’s broke, otherwise he’s going to move those bones around. So that’s the tough part. It’s frustrating for him, because he’s a guy who likes to work out and train. … He can’t do nothin’ yet.”
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 won’t be at full strength when the regular season begins next Wednesday in San Jose. They learned Wednesday they’ll be without winger Tanner Pearson, who was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the exhibition season plus two regular-season games for an illegal check Sunday.
Pearson also was fined $15,555.56.
Here’s a link to the NHL’s video explanation: https://www.nhl.com/video/pearson-suspended-for-hit-to-head/t-277350912/c-45092103
The Kings also will be without injured winger Marian Gaborik, who suffered a broken right foot during the World Cup on Sept. 25 in Toronto that will sideline him for two months. Gaborik is scheduled to be re-examined by a team doctor the week of Oct. 16, according to coach Darryl Sutter.
Sutter hoped to determined who might best replace Gaborik during exhibition games in Las Vegas on Friday against the Dallas Stars and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. Now, Sutter has two vacancies to fill for the regular-season’s first two games.
Pearson was banned Wednesday for an illegal hit to the head of the Edmonton Oilers’ Brandon Davidson during the the Kings’ exhibition loss Sunday. Pearson was ejected from the game and now will serve the first suspension of his 146-game NHL career.
“I didn’t mean to have contact with the head, but that’s the way the game is now, and it’s one of those things that happened and it’s over with and now I’ve got to pay the consequences,” said Pearson, who is eligible to return to the lineup for an Oct. 18 game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn.
“I’m just going to deal with it.”
Pearson said he was trying to hit Davidson, an Oilers defenseman, in the shoulder on a play at center ice. Pearson drove his shoulder into Davidson’s head instead, injuring him and drawing a match penalty and a game misconduct at the 11-minute mark of the second period.
“I don’t want to do it again,” said Pearson, who was the Kings’ seventh-leading scorer last season with 36 points, including 15 goals, in 79 games. “I don’t like missing hockey games. It’s unfortunate what happened and I’ve got to sit out now.”
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.
Nic Dowd scored twice and Devin Setoguchi had a goal and an assist as the Kings routed the Ducks, 6-1, in an exhibition game Wednesday at Staples Center. Justin Auger, Dustin Brown and Andy Andreoff also scored for the Kings, who are 2-1 in exhibition play. Peter Budaj made 14 saves and Thomas McCollum made 12 as the Kings split the goaltending duties evenly. The Kings outshot the Ducks, 48-27.
Here’s the link to the box score: https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/ana-vs-lak/2016/09/28/2016010030#game=2016010030,game_state=final,game_tab=boxscore