The LA Kings have assigned Aidan Dudas (OHL-Owen Sound), Nathan Dunkley (OHL-London), Jacob Ingham (OHL-Mississauga), Michal Ivan (QMJHL-Acadie-Bathurst), Markus Phillips (OHL-Owen Sound), Akil Thomas (OHL-Niagara) and Matthew Villalta (OHL-Sault Ste. Marie) to their major junior teams and have released Mark Rassell from his ATO. It had been reported prior to training camp that Rassell would attend the University of New Brunswick and play for the powerhouse Varsity Reds CIS program were he not to earn a pro contract out of camp.
The moves leave the Kings with 52 players in camp and Emerson Etem as the only player in camp on a tryout. In Tuesday’s 4-2 preseason loss at Arizona, Etem issued one hit and blocked one shot in 11:21 of game action.
There’s nothing here that surprising, though Dunkley and Ivan were expected to get long looks for an entry-level contract, and Rassell inserted himself into the conversation by showing well alongside Mikey Eyssimont and Jaret Anderson-Dolan in the Vegas Rookie Showcase opener, notching a goal and an assist against Anaheim.
Not included on the list of assignments: Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Given what he’s shown in development and training camp, there wasn’t any realistic chance he’d be among the first roster cuts. It’s still unlikely that he’ll make this Kings team, but he’ll get plenty of opportunity to show his growth with additional split-squad games Thursday night. One L.A. group has already departed for Vancouver to face the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday, while another group will remain home to face the Vegas Golden Knights at Staples Center.
Both Anderson-Dolan and Gabe Vilardi, who is not taking part in on-ice training camp sessions because of a back injury, are 19 years old and therefore would ultimately have to be assigned to their major junior clubs if they do not make the Kings. Players drafted out of the Canadian Hockey Leagues must be 20 to play in professional North American leagues if they do not make the NHL. Three remaining players in camp, defensemen Jacob Moverare and Kale Clague and forward Drake Rymsha, are eligible to play in either the AHL or be assigned to their junior team as an over-age player, though Clague, and probably Rymsha too, are expected to play in Ontario this season. Really, there’s a pretty good chance all three will end up in Ontario instead of being assigned back to juniors, though Moverare faces a tremendous amount of competition on the Reign’s blue line amidst the murkiness of a waiver wire that may or may not ensnare a Kings defenseman, or, hypothetically, be bolstered by an assignment of the waiver-exempt Daniel Brickley.
The Ontario Hockey League begins play tonight, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League begins Thursday, and the Western Hockey League begins Friday. Hockey season is nigh!