While the Drew Doughty contract saga makes for some interesting off-ice drama — and, as of this morning, there is apparently zero fresh movement in the contract talks — it also has the potential to cause headaches for Terry Murray, as time is drawing quite short in terms of selecting a roster. The Kings have exactly one day of training-camp practice remaining, tomorrow in El Segundo. Then it’s games in Anaheim on Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday, and then off to Europe.
Because the official roster does not need to be set for another week, the Kings can take as many players as they want to Europe, and continue practicing with them for the first few days. That alleviates a bit of the stress, but every day that Doughty doesn’t walk through the door, it’s one day closer to Murray having to determine what to do with his defensive pairs. For the most part — and again tonight — Doughty’s spot, next to Willie Mitchell, has gone to Slava Voynov. Thomas Hickey has also been in the mix, and it’s possible that Alec Martinez or Davis Drewiske could step into a bigger role. Today, I asked Murray at what point he needs to seriously consider the idea of regular-season life without Doughty…
MURRAY: “Well, quite frankly, I’ve been doing that from the beginning of the training camp, without looking at a final roster or anything. Throughout the whole training camp, I have Doughty (written) up in the right corner for training-camp practices and exhibition games. I’m just going through that process. We have to get our team ready, and right now Drew is not here, unfortunately. So you do have to push on. Guys have to be put in situations here, through the remaining exhibition games, and take a real good look and see how it comes out on the other side of it, and make a decision.’’
Question: You have a regular pair there with Scuderi and Johnson, so is it a matter of finding the right fit there with Willie Mitchell?
MURRAY: “I have been looking on that. When you miss a player, you’re looking at, `OK, who is the player you’re missing? What does that player bring? What kind of a game does he bring?’ Then you try to slot that guy, fill that slot with a player who plays that same kind of a game, who has the ability to handle the puck, make second- and third-option plays, get on the power play and try to fill in that gap. Same thing if it was a defensive defenseman. Then you look at it from that side of it. So the players we have in place here, we’re looking at Voynov very closely. We’ve got Hickey in the lineup here tonight. You’re looking at that kind of a description of a player, to see if they’re going to grab the ball and take a hold of it.’’
Question: Is it possible that Martinez got step in and play a bigger role also?
MURRAY: “Sure, sure. Martinez, I thought he fit in real well last year. He had a good read on a play last night, where he jumps in the back door, and that’s the kind of play that you need from a player that is going to fit into that area, that slot. So we’ll take a look at all of that. Drewiske has been a player who, he has some reads on the offensive part. He jumped up in the play last night a couple times to put a stressed attack on the defending team. That’s a good thing. That’s what we like. So we’ll just keep moving on, through these next games, and see how it all works.’’