- There has been a belief that the Senators are shopping for help on the back end and NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis notes (Twitter link) that Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion is watching the Kings for the second time in four days. Los Angeles has four right-shot defenders on their roster plus promising prospect Jordan Spence in the minors so their surplus could certainly be of interest to the Sens. Notably, none of those blueliners are on expiring contracts so Dorion would be taking on a two-year commitment if he finds a trade he likes to improve their defense corps.
The Los Angeles Kings have completed a handful of moves, starting with the placement of Carl Grundstrom on injured reserve. He is expected to be out through the All-Star break, according to team reporter Zach Dooley. With Gabriel Vilardi also dealing with a minor injury, the team has recalled both Samuel Fagemo and Alex Turcotte from the minor leagues. Tobias Bjornfot is coming with them, giving the Kings another body on defense.
Grundstrom, 25, is having a season just like his first two, chipping in some offense while generally being a pain on the forecheck. Through 37 games he has six goals and ten points while racking up 93 hits. The Kings signed him to a two-year deal worth $1.3MM per season to be exactly that, and his absence will certainly be noticed.
Still, it’s not a huge loss for a club that has so many young prospects to fill the void. Fagemo, 22, has 12 goals through 27 games with the Ontario Reign this year and has been excellent when given a chance in the NHL. Turcotte, meanwhile, is still trying to find his way after being the fifth-overall pick in 2019. The 21-year-old has 12 points in 19 games for the Reign but is still looking for his first at the NHL level.
Spence, 21, has suited up three times this season for the Kings averaging just over 14 minutes whenever he does get into the lineup. The young defenseman is one of several that the club shuffles between on game days and during road trips to make sure there are enough bodies in case of a late scratch.
Of course, after his encouraging performance last season, recording eight points in 24 games as a rookie, there are some that wish Spence was a mainstay on the NHL roster. The fourth-round pick offers a little more offensive upside than some of the other veteran names on the back end, and continues to tear up the minor leagues whenever assigned to the Ontario Reign.
In 72 career AHL games, Spence has 64 points, including 22 in 26 this season. At some point, the Kings will likely have to give him another long run in the NHL to see if he can translate that production. It might not come just yet though, as the Kings are playing well and sit second in the Pacific Division after going 7-2-1 in their last ten.
January 8: Just a few days after recalling him, the Kings have announced Moverare has been loaned to Ontario. The defenseman, who has played in just two games this season, did not play on this most recent recall.
January 5: The Los Angeles Kings have recalled Jacob Moverare, adding an extra body to the mix before their game tonight against the Boston Bruins. The Kings already had an open roster spot as they were previously carrying only six defensemen.
Moverare, 24, played two games earlier this season when the team was dealing with injuries but has spent most of the year in the minor leagues. A fourth-round pick in 2016, he has just 21 games of NHL experience to this point and doesn’t offer much offensive upside. Still, he does bring size and reach to the back end, helping on the penalty kill when needed.
Signed to a new two-year contract last June, Moverare will be on a one-way deal in 2023-24, showing how much confidence the Kings have in his ability to contribute moving forward. He’s one of a number of young defensemen in the system that could see playing time in the future, as names like Alexander Edler, Matt Roy, or Sean Walker start hitting free agency. For now, it remains to be seen whether he gets into the lineup tonight or is just up as insurance for the road game on Saturday night in Vegas.
4:01 pm: The Kings have made the move official, announcing Clarke’s loan to the OHL Friday afternoon. In a corresponding transaction, the team also placed forward Trevor Moore on injured reserve after he’d missed the past four games with an upper-body injury. He is still listed as day-to-day and could return at any time.
3:35 pm: Per reports this afternoon from John Hoven at Mayor’s Manor and Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek, the Los Angeles Kings are expected to loan top defense prospect Brandt Clarke back to the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
Clarke is coming off a gold-medal-winning performance at the 2023 World Junior Championships with Team Canada. The eighth overall pick in the 2021 draft led Canadian defensemen with two goals and eight points in seven games.
His professional action this season had been somewhat limited, although a strong training camp permitted him to crack the Kings’ opening night roster. He’d played just 14 games this season aside from the World Juniors, including nine in Los Angeles and five in the AHL with the Ontario Reign on a conditioning stint.
Los Angeles keeping Clarke to under 10 games played in the NHL this season allows them to slide the beginning of his entry-level contract until 2023-24. This is the second and final season Los Angeles can slide Clarke’s contract, which they signed in August of 2021.
Clarke is an absolutely huge get for Barrie, as their former captain notched 59 points in 55 games in 2021-22. With Clarke’s return, an already strong team will get even stronger, and they may not even be done yet. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler named the Colts as a potential destination for Shane Wright, who was also returned to the OHL today and will inevitably be traded by the Kingston Frontenacs before Tuesday’s OHL trade deadline to a more competitive team.
2023 will be an important step for Clarke’s development, as the Kings hope their top defense prospect develops into a natural successor on the right side behind Drew Doughty as he ages out of the league.
The Kings have been shuffling players back and forth all season long so it should come as no surprise that they announced several roster moves today. The weekend assignments of center Rasmus Kupari and defenseman Jordan Spence have been reversed while center Quinton Byfield has also been brought back up from AHL Ontario. To make room on the roster, winger Arthur Kaliyev has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to December 20th.
Byfield started the season with Los Angeles, getting into eight games where he picked up three assists while averaging a little less than 12 minutes per game. He was sent down a little more than two months ago and has done well with the Reign, collecting nine goals and six assists in 16 contests which has earned him another look with the big club.
This is the seventh time already that Kupari has been recalled this season with many of those assignments being short-term paper transactions. The 22-year-old has played in 21 games with Los Angeles this season, notching two goals and three assists while also getting into 11 games with Ontario, tallying five goals with four helpers.
Spence is up for the fifth time this season but only has three NHL games under his belt so far to show for it. He has been quite productive in the minors with 21 points in 22 games (good for sixth among AHL rearguards) but with Brandt Clarke off at the World Juniors, he is starting to at least spend more time on the roster for Los Angeles.
Kaliyev was injured late in a game against Anaheim last Tuesday while blocking a shot and there’s no word on how long he’ll be out for. With them back-dating the placement, he’ll be eligible to be activated as soon as he’s ready as he has technically already served the required seven days. Kaliyev has nine goals and ten assists in 34 games so far this season.
Lemieux has missed the Kings’ last 23 games with a lower-body injury. Lemieux has played in 15 games this season and scored three points to go along with 28 minutes spent in the box.
Adding Lemieux back to their active roster gives the Kings a player from what now seems to be a dying breed across the NHL. While Lemieux has flashed some offensive touch in the past (he scored 43 points in 51 AHL games in 2017-18) his time playing in the NHL has established him as one of the league’s few pure agitators.
Lemieux’s calling card is getting under his opponent’s skin, disrupting their control over a game, and playing with the sort of energy and physicality that would make any opponent fear facing his line on a shift. As more and more NHL clubs decide they don’t need to devote a roster spot to a player with such a relatively limited package of tools, players like Lemieux are becoming rarer and rarer across the NHL.
But Kings coach Todd McLellan has deemed Lemieux an important piece in the team’s bottom six, and with this activation, Lemieux will have a chance to return to his spot there.
And even while players like Lemieux seem to be becoming more of a rare sight in this modern NHL, the Kings do happen to stand second in the Pacific Division, making it somewhat difficult to criticize McLellan’s decisions regarding his lineup.
The Los Angeles Kings have joined in on the flurry of transactions ahead of tomorrow night’s roster freeze. The team announced that forward Rasmus Kupari and defenseman Jordan Spence have both been loaned to the Ontario Reign, their AHL affiliate. No corresponding moves were announced.
One of many talented young Kings players, Kupari has split his time between Los Angeles and Ontario this season as he continues to tear up the AHL, but struggles to become an impactful NHLer. Through 11 AHL games in 2021-22, Kupari has nine points, however in 18 NHL games, he has just five points while averaging 10:38 per night. Certainly with more ice time comes more points, but as it goes, more ice time likely won’t come without more points.
As for Spence, the 21-year-old defenseman has struggled to consistently crack the Kings lineup through no fault of his own, falling victim to the organization’s incredible defensive depth. Last season, Spence played 24 games with Los Angeles, recording eight points, but had a phenomenal 42 points in 46 games on Ontario’s blueline. This season has been much of the same, Spence registering 21 points through 22 games for Ontario. The Australian-born Spence was only able to make his 2022-23 NHL debut last night, playing in the Kings game against the San Jose Sharks before being sent back down.