Wagner, Amadio, Walker assigned; Kovalchuk returning; Campbell assignment; injury notes; Vilardi to OHL - LA Kings Insider

A good afternoon to you, Insiders. First, the alignment from today’s full-team practice at Toyota Sports Center:

Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown
Kempe-Carter-Toffoli
Leipsic-Thompson-Kovalchuk
Clifford-Scherbak-Luff

Forbort-Doughty
Muzzin-LaDue
Brickley-Fantenberg

Notes!

–Roster moves, ahoy! Forwards Austin Wagner and Michael Amadio and defenseman Sean Walker were assigned to AHL-Ontario in advance of the process of activating players. Wagner, Amadio and Walker skated with the Reign before the Kings’ practice this morning. Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘why did Wagner get the ol’ Inland Empire heave-ho after scoring twice Tuesday night?’ The reason, as it often is, is because of the CBA. In this case, his waiver-exempt status and the need to set a roster in advance of tonight’s freeze amidst several players nearing full health were factors. Important: Wagner, like Walker and Amadio, can be recalled at any point during the roster freeze, as long as the Kings remain cap compliant:

“I think it’s always tough,” Willie Desjardins said about the assignments, particularly that of Wagner, who was named the second star in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Winnipeg. “There’s movements always at the … deadline that you just have to make because your roster gets frozen. We’ve got guys coming back. … It doesn’t mean that we don’t think he can come back and play. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. You have to make certain room on your roster this time of the year. They can go down, but we can call them back if we wanted.”

Again, if you’re hoping for Wagner in the lineup for the back-to-back weekend slate at San Jose and Vegas, or the December 27 home game against Arizona, he can still be recalled as long as the team is cap compliant.

Don’t expect a release today, but Ilya Kovalchuk’s (bursectomy) return is imminent; he’s the primary player whose roster spot is being accommodated by today’s assignments. It was shared on Sunday, December 2 that Kovalchuk was expected to miss “about” four weeks, but, surprise! It’s now looking like he’ll return to the lineup this Saturday against San Jose, one of his summertime suitors.

“He’s good to go,” Desjardins said. “I think you would see him in the next game.”

Kyle Clifford, meanwhile, is approaching game-readiness, but given his history with head injuries, the team is exercising caution. “Cliffy’s good, he wants to go,” Desjardins said. “I’m being a little bit cautious with him. We’ll have to just talk that out, but he wants to play, for sure.”

–More injury bits: Jack Campbell (meniscus surgery), who is 5-7-0 with a 2.33 goals-against-average, a .923 save percentage and one shutout, is about to embark on a conditioning assignment to the AHL. Ontario plays a home-and-home with San Diego that begins Friday night on the road and concludes at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at CBBA. Carl Hagelin (MCL sprain) and Jonny Brodzinski (shoulder surgery) skated lightly between the Ontario and Los Angeles practices today. They were not in full gear, but this still represents the slow train of progress. “At least if you’re getting on the ice, there’s movement, it’s getting closer,” Desjardins said of Hagelin, who suffered a knee injury on November 24 and was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, per hockey operations. “But he still would be a ways out. That would just be a tentative skate, I would think. He’s still a ways away, but it’s good that he’s progressed to that stage.”

–And, the big prospect news: per Curtis Zupke, Gabe Vilardi’s process of rehabilitating his back will take place in the Ontario Hockey League:

Because Vilardi was unable to play in the final game of his conditioning assignment in Ontario and despite some improvement before Canada’s world juniors camp did not participate on-ice Monday or Tuesday, this “time to heal up” isn’t a surprise. Given the trajectory of the Kings season and the preference to not burn a year off his entry-level contract – plus the need for the team to ensure that its top prospect rests, recuperates and puts himself in the best position to return to full health, it was becoming more and more likely over the past month that he’d be juniors-bound at some point this season. There was the potential that he’d get up to a nine-game look in the NHL, but with recovery superseding all other Vilardi-related needs, the likelihood of that path was reduced. Expect him to get traded from Kingston to a contending OHL team, should he return to health at or near the OHL’s trade deadline in early January.

Some better news for Kings prospects: Jaret Anderson-Dolan will play for Canada, beginning with tonight’s pre-tournament game against Switzerland:

–Lead photo via Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire

Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left

Bio

Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
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Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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