Catching up on the last of the news from Monday:
Michael Mersch has been assigned to AHL-Ontario. This isn’t a surprise; though he continued the trajectory that saw him emerge as a second-half force for AHL-Manchester a season ago and potted a pair of preseason goals for Los Angeles, the plan, as was learned over the summer, was to get him another half-year or so of seasoning at the AHL level and recall him to the big club when needed. The Kings, in several recent years, have benefited well from mid-season prospect call-ups who stepped right into the lineup (see: King and Nolan in 2012, and Pearson and Toffoli in 2014), and Mersch will be primed to join the Kings at some point this season, barring unforeseen events.
Appearing in all six preseason games, Mersch’s 20 shots on goal tied for third in the league.
Ontario will open the season on Saturday in Bakersfield. As of now, the Reign’s two goaltenders are Peter Budaj and Michael Houser, because there is no word yet on whether J-F Berube has cleared waivers (more on that soon), and Patrik Bartosak is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his thumb. The team is also waiting to see whether Brian O’Neill (who would have to clear waivers) will be made available to the club; as of yesterday, the Kings were still deciding on O’Neill’s plans to start the season. In the final preseason tuneup last night, the Reign fell 5-3 to the San Diego Gulls at the Honda Center. Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel and Jonny Brodzinski scored for Ontario, while Houser stopped 25 of 29 shots.
The Reign also assigned forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn and defensive prospect Alex Roach to ECHL-Manchester, while forwards Matt White, Derek Arnold and Riley Armstrong, and defenseman Garrett Haar were released from their tryouts.
Your first opportunity to see Mersch and the Reign at home will take place over October 23-24, when Bakersfield and San Jose visit the Inland Empire.