As training camp comes to its final week, the last roster spots up for grabs are in plain view. With the Ontario Reign’s camp starting Monday, the Kings’ roster was cut down significantly. Many players were sent down through waivers or released from their Professional Tryouts. With many players being sent through waivers at this time of year from organization to organization, the organization was unlikely to see significant numerical losses from those sniped off the waiver wire. Samuel Fagemo, a proven scorer at the minor and AHL levels, was claimed by Nashville on Tuesday.
The loss of Fagemo, a talented player with tenacity for goalscoring, reflects that the next generation of prospects has made their mark on the organization’s future plans. One of the players from the next pool of prospects remains with the Kings and represents one of the last couple of battles.
At Foward, with some Ivy too
Alex Laferriere stood out at Harvard in the NCAA and has turned heads at camp. He remains on the roster after significant cuts—players he was drafted with combined with players who have seen NHL time, like TJ Tynan. He’s been impressive at each preseason contest, factoring in offensively and defensively through each game.
Believe it or not, he’s more mature on the ice. Everything was new and that’s what’s so great about those college kids, they have a chance to experience 10 games or so. Now they come in and they already know what’s going on and they know us, so that’s really important. I think this year you can tell he already feels very, very comfortable.Marco Sturm, postgame September 30th
Laferriere has to compete with Carl Grundstrom, Trevor Lewis, Jared Anderson-Dolan, Tyler Madden, and Alex Turcotte for a fourth-line role. While Carl Grundstrom and Trevor Lewis are favorable locks for the roster, Anderson-Dolan, Laferriere, Madden, and Turcotte are all vying for a potential extra forward role. Anderson-Dolan has spent the most time in the NHL and has put up limited points in a limited role, playing on the fourth line. He has been extraordinarily versatile with the club but has come to a crossroads with the Kings with the plethora of talent coming up.
Tyler Madden, Laferriere, and Turcotte are all higher-end talents at the precipice of their NHL career starting. Madden and Laferriere were long shots to make it this far into the camp cycle and would be considered even longer shots to make the team entirely out of camp.
Turcotte, under much scrutiny of the Hockey World since his drafting at fifth overall in 2019, is as close as he’s ever been to making the team out of camp. Taking notes from Byfield, Kupari, and Vilardi, the move should bump Turcotte to wing. It will open him up to NHL development, get him a spot in the lineup, add a versatile option like Anderson-Dolan as a natural centerman who can switch for matchups, and finally get him away from the AHL. Turcotte has suffered in the AHL health wise over time. He looks ready, and it would be a significant mistake not to finally utilize him on an NHL roster after so many derailed seasons due to injury.
The Jordan Spence and Brandt Clarke battle wages on. Both players have shown an impressive effort throughout the preseason. Spence has the experience and has demonstrated that he’s NHL-ready. Clarke offers an alternative option: though he has yet to get the number of NHL games Spence has, his ceiling is truly elite caliber, and the dividends of exposure to the NHL game could prove vastly more fruitful than Spence.
Spence offers the safer option for management, for now. Clarke’s talent is brimming, but it is also wise to have him spend time being the number one option in the AHL, playing 25-27 mins a night against a faster pace than the OHL. Regardless, neither play seems poised to act as a seventh defenseman.
With Jacob Moverare passing through waivers, the 3LHD spot has come down to Andreas Englund and Tobias Bjornfot. The spot should differ from the more competitive spot in which the Clarke v Spence position acts. In other words, their jockeying for position essentially leaves the loser to win the 7th defenseman spot.
Like many Kings ‘ prospects, Bjornfot has yet to play up to his draft pedigree. His skillset still keeps management kicking the tires with him in the NHL, though failing at this point to break through with a consistent game.
Englund is without the same skill level as a Bjornfot but acts as a lengthier and more physical presence. The age of the enforcer is ending in the NHL, but there is still going to be a need to have someone on the roster who can hold their own defensively but also act as a backstop for any individual running around. Englund acts as the best option for a 7th defenseman who can be plugged in and out for games if Bjornfot starts to fail or if a team like Vegas down the road may be inclined to run around.
The goal crease is going to be the telling story of the success or failure of the LA Kings 2023-24. With this being said, three goalies remain on the roster: David Rittich, Pheonix Copley, and Cam Talbot. Regarding McLellan’s system and Cam Talbot’s background, he acts as a shoo-in for one of the goalie positions. It will come down to Copley and Rittich.
Copley was consistent for the Kings season last year and acted as a catalyst of average and safe goaltending that the team desperately needed to propel them toward the playoffs. Rittich has more NHL experience than Copley and might be just as hungry to lock down a roster spot over Copley, though highly unlikely. Talbot and Copley seem destined to be the 1A/1B tandem to split the season for the Kings.
The final roster is coming soon.