Competition well underway for depth defensive spot - LA Kings Insider

Though Darryl Sutter confirmed that defensemen Jake Muzzin and Matt Greene are day-to-day with upper-body injuries, not enough time has elapsed from Sunday evening’s game to see how the injuries – which occurred to one left and one right-handed defenseman – will impact the construction of the Kings’ roster.

Like the competition for the forward spots on the roster, there is also competition on the back end, some of which is influenced by the waiver process. Because Muzzin, Greene, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff and Brayden McNabb will be on the roster, the Kings will have one roster spot open for a defenseman should Muzzin and Greene not have to be placed on injured reserve prior to the season, assuming that the team will open the season with seven defensemen and 14 forwards, which is what I’m led to believe will be the most likely balance.

Defensemen not listed above but currently on the Kings’ roster:
Jeff Schultz
Jamie McBain
Vincent LoVerde
Derek Forbort
Damir Sharipzyanov

Sharipzyanov is still in camp because he’s continuing to rehab a wrist injury suffered at Russia’s World Juniors summer development camp and will be assigned to OHL-Owen Sound once he recovers. The other three defensemen would have to clear waivers were the Kings to assign them to AHL-Ontario. For LoVerde, Manchester’s captain last season, there’s no real concern that he’d be claimed off waivers by an NHL team, as he’s yet to make his NHL debut. His most realistic shot at making the team would be if both Greene and Muzzin would have to be placed on injured reserve, which, given the “day-to-day” designation by Sutter earlier, doesn’t seem to be a probable outcome give the current information available.

Forbort, whose development is on an upward trend after his first two professional seasons, would not have to clear waivers to be assigned to AHL-Ontario, so there’s a fairly good chance that he’d open the season there before serving as a mid-season call-up should things stay as they are. Forbort was recalled by the Kings midway through the 2014-15 season but did not enter into a game.

So, should Muzzin and Greene be available when rosters are sent to the NHL on October 6 – that’s still eight days and two preseason games away – the competition for the seventh defensive spot is coming down to McBain or Schultz, with Forbort also entering into the equation.

“I think we’re all aware of the competition,” McBain said. “Competition, it’s a good thing, it pushes us all to be better, but I think at the same time you have to understand your role, you have to understand where you are on the team, and make sure you’re doing that role to the best of your ability. That’s what great teams do; once everyone understands their role it’s a good thing.”

Of course, the ultimate decision on the blue line personnel may come down to the club’s ultimate need. Are they looking for another righthanded shot? Might they prefer a defensive-minded defenseman over someone with more of an offensive bent?

“I think you just have to embrace every opportunity you’re given, and use every practice and game to get better each day, and have it translate into the games,” Schultz said.

Jeff Schultz, on playing heavy minutes in Colorado on Sunday:
I think as the game went on, and a little more added ice time, I was more into the game, and thought I provided what they need from me out there, and it felt good at the end of the game.

Schultz, on dealing with Colorado’s altitude:
It had been a few years since I had played there, and to go down a D or two D there, it was just a matter of managing our shift time, shift length, and not overexerting ourselves.

Schultz, on his comfort level with the Kings:
We’ve been with everybody in practice, so you kind of learn everyone’s tendencies and get to know them there, but I think it’s just a matter of communication that’s probably the biggest thing with helping a new partner out.

Jamie McBain, on whether he was happy with his performance last season:
Yeah, I felt good about my game, I’ve been around the game long enough, I guess, to know that whenever my name’s called, I’m going to be ready to go, and again, that just comes down to preparation and making sure that whenever I see my name on the board that I’m ready to go, and that’s a testament to the coaching staff here and the trainers just to make sure that we’re all – whoever’s in, is ready to go.

McBain, on how the defense reacts to injuries:
It’s one of those things where we’re all ready to go, we’re all capable of playing any minutes that are thrown at us, so none of us know what happened with those guys yet; we know just as much as you guys do, but at the end of the day it’s still preseason right now, we’re all just trying to make sure we get ourselves ready to go, so that whoever’s in the lineup on opening night is ready to go.

McBain, on the Kings’ influence on his puck-moving tendencies:
As far as I know, they were pretty happy with the way I came in, especially you know, coming in here and there, you know, not having a full season I guess, kind of in and out, but as far as I know, they were happy with me, but obviously, every day you can get better, and I know that, and that’s what I try to do. My offensive side is always going to be there, I have a lot of confidence in that, but just making sure that on the defensive side of the puck I’m rock solid, and I think last year, for the first time in probably a while, I felt really good about that, so I’m just trying to continue that this year.

McBain, on starting training camp in Los Angeles instead of joining the team mid-season:
It’s a lot more comforting to be here now, and to be here through the whole preseason, rather than jump right into it from skating by myself to right in against Anaheim, so it’s a lot more comforting now to be able to get a few games in under my belt, be around the guys and the group that I’m familiar with from last year is a lot better than where I was last year at this time.

McBain, on the timing of signing a new contract over the summer:
I knew they had some pieces that they had to get into place before anything with me was going to take effect, but once they did get those pieces and we were able to talk, I mean, I enjoyed my time here last year, I really enjoy this group, I enjoy the coaching staff and everything about this organization, and if I had the opportunity to come back, I definitely wanted to, and we were able to make it work.

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