The waiver period opened on September 22, and on Tuesday morning two familiar names were found on the wire. Via Renaud Lavoie, both Jordan Nolan and Jeff Zatkoff have been placed on waivers:
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) September 26, 2017
As I noted in a podcast that will be released later this morning, there are a number of spots up for competition at all positions for the Kings, a notion underscored by this morning’s news. Nolan has appeared in 292 games over six seasons with L.A., totaling 20 goals, 42 points, a minus-13 rating and 264 penalty minutes. He had four goals and eight points in 46 games last season while battling injuries in the second half, an episode that came to a head when he was unavailable to practice in early April, drawing an observation from Darryl Sutter that “you want guys really interested in practicing and playing tonight.” With such heavy competition for depth forward spots, it was a lurking possibility that Nolan would be exposed.
Zatkoff’s situation is fluid at the moment. Unless a goaltender suffers an injury over the final week of the preseason or is claimed off waivers – the latter of which is certainly a foreseeable possibility – there’s simply not a clear opening for him within the organization, even at the AHL level. Darcy Kuemper and Jack Campbell are also battling to back up Jonathan Quick, and whichever goaltender falls short of doing so will have to pass through waivers in the highly likely event that the team would attempt to assign them to Ontario. Should that goalie go unclaimed, they would split starts with Cal Petersen, who will be assigned to the Reign in advance of the season.
At this point it is unclear whether Campbell or Kuemper would be claimed. Such a question had also been asked about Peter Budaj, who may have raised an eyebrow or two when he cleared waivers as the team attempted to assign him to Ontario one year ago. But in the event that the goalie who does not win the back-up position is unclaimed, that would mean that the team’s most likely options for Zatkoff would be either to assign him to Ontario as a third goalie, which the team does not see as an ideal situation, or to attempt to trade him or loan him to another organization. At this point, those propositions are still a bit murky.
In 48 career NHL games, Zatkoff has a 2.72 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. In 13 games with the Kings last season, he went 2-7-1 with a 2.95 GAA and a .879 Sv%.
In the here-and-now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both players on the ice at today’s 11:30 a.m. training camp session. Neither player is expected to travel to Las Vegas for tonight’s game against the Golden Knights.
Should Zatkoff or Nolan go unclaimed, and the Kings ultimately decide to assign either (or both) to AHL-Ontario, they would not be dinged with a cap hit for either player. When a team assigns a player on a one-way contract to the American Hockey League, the player’s cap hit, minus the sum of the minimum NHL salary, minus $375,000 still counts towards the team’s cap total. Because that total is now $1,025,000, Los Angeles would not have any cap hits tied to Nolan ($950K) or Zatkoff ($900K).
Other players on the roster bubble who would have to clear waivers to be assigned to Ontario include Andy Andreoff, Christian Folin, Kurtis MacDermid, Justin Auger, Nick Shore, Nic Dowd and Michael Mersch. Those on the roster bubble who remain waiver exempt are Kevin Gravel, Paul LaDue, Oscar Fantenberg, Adrian Kempe and Jonny Brodzinski.
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI