When the Kings assigned Slava Voynov to Manchester, two days before the start of the regular season, they did so with praise for the rookie defenseman, noting how well he had performed in the preseason. For logistical reasons, Voynov stayed with the team until it got back to North America, and as it turns out, he wasn’t gone long. Drew Doughty’s injury led the Kings to call up Voynov from the AHL on Sunday, and Voynov is expected to make his NHL debut tomorrow night against St. Louis.
It’s been a slow, steady rise for Voynov, who was a second-round pick in 2008. He played three seasons in Manchester, had to overcome a shoulder injury at one point and became an AHL All-Star last season. Given the depth on defense, at both the NHL and AHL levels, Voynov has had to wait for an opportunity, but now one has arrived, Terry Murray said.
MURRAY: “I really liked what Voynov did in the training camp. I thought all of his games were very impressive, to me. I had not seen him play for a couple years. Last year, he missed the training camp with his shoulder. I went down and watched them play in the playoffs two years ago and he missed time because of that shoulder. So I really haven’t seen his game for a considerable length of time. But very impressive, though, through the training camp. He’s intelligent. He’s got an aggressive attitude. He’s got a very nice skill level. He’s a second-, third-option player. He does a nice job on the power play. So we’re looking for good things. I look at him as a veteran player getting an opportunity to play, not just as a player who’s coming up to fill in for an injured player.
“I just want him to play. He’s going to get into the lineup. He’s going to play with Willie Mitchell, as you saw in the practice today. And he’s not a kid. This is a man. He has played in the elite levels in Russia, before he even joined the Kings organization. He’s played some very good hockey since he’s been over in North America. He’s just trying to tie it all together, with the confidence he showed us and the game he showed us in training camp. it was right where we needed it to be. There’s no problem with him handling the high expectations. i think he’s a very confident young man.
“When we had the conversation in Europe, for him to go back to Manchester, with the coaching staff and Dean and Hexy, we all reassured him, `Feel good about your game. You’re on the threshold. You’re ready to make that step across and become a player on a regular basis in the NHL.’ It’s here a little bit sooner than what we anticipated, and it’s unfortunate that it is, but it’s his opportunity to show that he can play. He’s not called up to fill in for an injured player in my mind. This is a time for him to show us what he can do.’’