The LA Kings set their 2018-19 opening night roster, and if you read LA Kings Insider, you’re not surprised by any of this:
Anze Kopitar (C), Jeff Carter (A), Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Iafallo, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Adrian Kempe, Michael Amadio, Nate Thompson, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Austin Wagner, Jaret Anderson-Dolan
Drew Doughty (A), Derek Forbort, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Dion Phaneuf, Oscar Fantenberg, Paul LaDue
Jonathan Quick, Jack Campbell
Injured Reserve (2)
Dustin Brown, Jonny Brodzinski
Injured Non-Roster (1)
–Emerson Etem was released from his Los Angeles PTO and has signed an AHL PTO that expires after Ontario plays 25 games. The Reign’s 25th game takes place on December 21, for what it’s worth. “Speed and NHL experience,” Ontario Head Coach Mike Stothers said about Etem. “He’s very fast. He had some finish, he scored some goals for the Kings in the exhibition and now he’s got to apply that and see where it leads. We can certainly use the experience that he brings and he helps the young guys, and you know what, you can see the way the preseason started for the Kings, they had a couple of injuries, he’s a depth guy that knows his way around the NHL so we’ll see how he fits in.”
–As shared last week, the final forward spot was coming down to a choice between Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Austin Wagner — before Dustin Brown suffered a broken finger in the final exhibition game. So, they’re both in! “Nothing’s been accomplished yet,” Wagner said. “We’re still a few days away from the regular season, so I’ve just got to keep working hard this week and see what happens. Like I said, it’s been a lot of hard work this last summer and last year. Coming off rehab, I worked really hard to get back to where I wanted to be, and I’ve still got a long ways to be where I want to be. This is just a stepping stone and a good journey along the way.”
Should Anderson-Dolan get into a game in the first month of the season, he’d become somewhere between the 10th-to-13th youngest player to ever play for the Kings.
The list of youngest players to debut for the Kings:
1) Aki Berg: 18 years, 71 days (debut: 10/7/95)
2) Jimmy Carson: 18 years, 81 days (debut: 10/9/86)
3) Brayden Schenn: 18 years, 97 days (debut: 11/26/09)
4) Doug Smith: 18 years, 143 days (debut: 10/7/81)
5) Olli Jokinen: 18 years, 300 days (debut: 10/1/97)
6) Drew Doughty: 18 years, 308 days (debut: 10/11/08)
7) Dustin Brown: 18 years, 339 days (debut: 10/9/03)
8) Craig Duncanson: 19 years, 16 days (debut: 4/2/86)
9) Craig Redmond: 19 years, 19 days (debut: 10/11/84)
10) Jamie Storr: 19 years, 25 days (debut: 1/22/95)
11) Brian Wilks: 19 years, 30 days (debut: 3/29/85)
12) Anze Kopitar: 19 years, 43 days (debut: 10/6/06)
13) Jonathan Bernier: 19 years, 53 days (debut: 9/29/07)
14) Matt Johnson: 19 years, 60 days (debut: 1/22/95)
15) Darryl Sydor: 19 years, 146 days (debut: 10/6/91)
Were he do debut Friday – which is not a given – he’d be 19 years and 23 days old. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Anderson-Dolan said. “I haven’t had a lot of time to really think about it, and honestly, I’m trying not to too much. I’m just trying to stay in the moment and control what I can control right now.”
On Tuesday, Wagner skated opposite Trevor Lewis on Adrian Kempe’s line, while Anderson-Dolan skated as part of a four-player consortium that also included Kyle Clifford, Michael Amadio and Nate Thompson.
Both Anderson-Dolan and Wagner are Calgary natives who played in the Western Hockey League, but they weren’t overly familiar with each other growing up. (Wagner is two years Anderson-Dolan’s senior.) Wagner played for the Calgary Northstars minor hockey program, while Anderson-Dolan played for Trails West before joining the Edge Academy. They overlapped by two years in the WHL, but Spokane and Regina play each other only once a year, limiting their exposure to each other.
Meanwhile, Anderson-Dolan, switched to #28. As it turns out, his #11 from Spokane is taken in Los Angeles. Wagner kept #51. Other switches in advance of 2018-19 are Jack Campbell (1-to-36), Paul LaDue (38-to-2) and Michael Amadio (52-to-10).
–Anderson-Dolan, on indications that he was coming into a more senior camp and playing his own game: “How comfortable I was from being around here in the summer and being around the guys. I think last year, you come in and you’re on the ice with the NHL guys and it’s a little bit eye-opening and you’re a little bit nervous. But this year, from the first ice time, I felt a lot more confident with the puck and being around the guys. They’ve all done a great job bringing all the young guys in, including me.”
–Wagner, on when he began to get comfortable in the AHL after his professional debut was delayed due to shoulder surgery last year: “Probably about a month in. I scored a goal early when I came off surgery last year. I didn’t get a lot of points after that, but I thought I did a lot of things right at that time where I was just playing the game right. Points aren’t always going to come. It doesn’t dictate how you play all the time, but if you can be consistent in your efforts and be good in your D-zone, that’s a big thing. That’s a huge thing I learned playing pro with Mike Stothers and Brett Sutter and guys like that. They helped me a lot along the way. I’m very fortunate to have had that opportunity last year. Coming off surgery and being able to stay, it’s a big step right now, but I’m trying to … learn from these guys on what I can do every day to get better.”
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI