The up-and-down nature of the season continues for the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate. After a slow start, the Monarchs moved into first place in their division in late December, and had goalie Jeff Zatkoff and defenseman Thomas Hickey named to the AHL All-Star Game. Then the Monarchs fell off the table, with a franchise-worst seven-game losing streak. That ended last week, and now the Monarchs have won three consecutive games. Manchester hosts St. John’s on Friday and Worcester on Saturday before a five-day All-Star break. The All-Star Game will be played Monday.
The Monarchs have had a series of injuries that have kept players out of the lineup at different times. Robbie Czarnik has not returned to the lineup since suffering a major hit to the head on Jan. 15 against Portland. Don’t look to the Monarchs for much offensive help. Chances are, if Manchester had forwards ready to step into top-six roles in the NHL, they would already be here. Marc-Andre Cliche leads the Monarchs with 13 goals and 29 assists and is considered NHL-ready if the Kings needed a bottom-six forward. Brandon Kozun has 12 goals in an up-and-down season. Dwight King has impressed, with eight goals and 26 points, but the Kings would like to see more offensive development. Jordan Nolan (nine goals, 11 assists) is making positive steps. In goal, the Monarchs are splitting games between Zatkoff (2.27 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in 24 games) and Martin Jones (2.76, .915 in 26 games).
Finally, as first reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN, Monarchs forward Cam Paddock cleared waivers and is likely to have his contract terminated. No huge surprise here. Paddock turns 29 in a couple months and had five points in 39 games with the Monarchs. The Kings signed him to a one-year contract in September after he was a non-roster invitee to training camp. Paddock previously played in Germany, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return overseas. [UPDATE: Paddock will indeed move to a pro team in Germany.]