The Kings have placed four players on waivers, including goaltender Peter Budaj, as they have begun the process of separating their NHL and AHL rosters following last night’s split-squad games and in advance of the Ontario Reign’s training camp, which begins Tuesday.
Full cuts will be announced later, but according to reports, goalies Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell, center Andrew Crescenzi and defenseman Vincent LoVerde have been placed on waivers in advance of the team’s intended roster moves. Budaj is the player to watch here; as a 2015-16 first team all-star and the winner of both the award for the AHL’s top goalie and the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, there is a threat that he, more than the others, could be claimed off waivers by a team in search of a back-up goaltender. San Jose, which has only 119 minutes of goaltending experience beyond that of Martin Jones on its roster – minutes that belong to Troy Grosenick, who was also placed on waivers today – could be a team to watch as teams continue to pare down their rosters.
These waiver notifications unofficially confirm that Jeff Zatkoff, barring anything crazy or unexpected, will back up Jonathan Quick this season. That was always expected, as Los Angeles will need to expose at least one goaltender in next year’s expansion draft, and Zatkoff was signed for two seasons. Thomas McCollum, who has performed well in the preseason, was brought into camp on a PTO as insurance in the event that a team would make a claim on Budaj, who stopped 24 of 28 shots over two preseason appearances.
Reports on whether players clear arise in the 9:00 hour PT the day after the player is placed on waivers.
As the Kings understood they would likely have to expose Budaj to waivers, the timing in which they did so took on significance. They lost J-F Berube last fall when the Islanders made a claim after Jaroslav Halak was hurt in training camp; that claim was made official on October 6. This year, Los Angeles subjected its goaltenders to waivers nine days before the season instead of two.
According to a team source, the team is still in the process of evaluating Lucas Lessio and Devin Setoguchi, its two skaters on PTO contracts. While the team is not scheduled to practice today, hockey operations is expected to spend the day in meetings. Again, the full list of cuts is expected to be announced later.
The 27-year-old LoVerde, Ontario’s captain, totaled 11 goals and 32 points in 56 games with the Reign last season, while the 24-year-old Crescenzi, a checking forward and valuable penalty killer, totaled five goals and 21 points in 67 games. Campbell, acquired from Dallas at the draft in exchange for Nick Ebert as the team looked to rebuild its goaltending pipeline, is 24 years old and split last season between AHL-Texas, where he posted a 3.65 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in 19 games, and ECHL-Idaho, where he had 1.68 / .944 splits in 20 games.