One of the primary stories through training camp has been the competition on the Kings’ blue line. Darryl Sutter previously offered a hint that the team could open the season with eight defensemen while stating that other than the spots belonging to Drew Doughty, Robyn Regehr, Slava Voynov and Matt Greene, there were positional battles to be waged to round out the team’s defense.

Sutter, from September 14:

Well, if we’re healthy, nobody’s taking Drew’s place. Nobody’s taking Slava’s place. Nobody’s taking Greener’s place. Nobody’s taking Robyn’s place. After that, there’s holes there. There’s boxes that don’t have a name in there yet. So, who’s going to be Drew’s partner? Who’s going to be Slava’s partner? Who’s going to be Greener’s partner, and who’s going to be our seventh guy, and who’s going to be our eighth guy? Because you can’t have nine. [Reporter: So is the thought to start the year with eight defensemen?] I really don’t know that yet. I mean, if you start with eight, then you’re going 13 forwards, so I really don’t know. We’re not to that point yet.

The team practiced on Monday color coded by line pairings. Dustin Brown and Jake Muzzin did not participate. There are still three exhibition games to be played – and observers shouldn’t put an enormous amount of emphasis into alignments midway through the preseason – but judging from some of the line rushes, there were some indications towards where players were at, and where they could be used in upcoming games against Anaheim, the New York Rangers and Colorado.

White: King – Kopitar – Williams – Regehr – Doughty
Maroon: Frattin – Richards – Carter – Mitchell – Voynov
Powder Blue: Clifford – Stoll – Lewis – Martinez – Greene
Yellow: Carcillo – Fraser – Nolan – Forbort – Ellerby
Black: Pearson – Vey – Shore – Toffoli – Schultz – Bodnarchuk

On Sunday, Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty and I chatted with Keaton Ellerby, one of the players in heavy competition for a spot on the blue line. Ellerby’s comments are below; follow the link for Matsuda’s feature, LA Kings Defenseman Keaton Ellerby: “You’re Always Battling For A Spot”

Keaton Ellerby, on training camp:
I think it’s gone pretty good. Just trying to go out there and work hard and do what the coaches ask me to do, and just play my game. I think it’s gone good so far.

Ellerby, on what the coaches have asked him to do:
Just be a big, physical, good defensive penalty killing D, I guess. Get back, move pucks up quickly. Don’t slow it down. Just get the puck in the hands of the forwards as fast as possible, and keep the puck out of our net. I’m thinking the two games I’ve played, I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far, and I just try to keep building on it, keep working with the coaches, and just keep working hard.

Ellerby, on the surplus defensemen:
It’s part of the game, you know? You’ve got to be mentally strong, and just persevere through whatever ups and downs are thrown your way. I’m 24-years-old, so I hope I’ve got a long career ahead of me. You’re always battling for a spot, you know, so I think it’s a lot of perseverance and just working hard and doing what the coaches expect of you. I think if you do that, and do that day in and day out, you’ll get your opportunities, and then when you get those opportunities, just take advantage of them and do your best.

Ellerby, on whether he thinks about the competition:
You see it, you think about it, but you can’t let it affect you. You play your game and do what you’ve got to do to win a spot in the lineup. Nothing’s ever given to you, so you’ve got to just work through it and do the best you can day in and day out.

Ellerby, on whether he thinks about what he needs to do to stand out:
I mean, sometimes. I’ve talked with the coaches a lot already this year, and last year worked a lot with the coaching staff. I mean, my game is being a defensive guy and killing penalties – just not letting the opposition score on us. Just excelling at those things. I mean, me and John Stevens have talked a lot about penalty killing being a huge part of my game going forward, so you’ve just got to work on that, do a lot of video with him, and just make that a staple of my game and five-on-five play, just be a hard-nosed, physical defenseman who doesn’t get scored on and contributes offensively when possible. If I do those things, and just keep working at ‘em, and then keep getting better, I think I’ll be already.

Darryl Sutter, on Ellerby’s training camp:
Keaton’s played really well for us. He did a good job training this summer. He’s played really well. He’s got some jump in his game. We’ve liked the way he’s played.

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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