The LA Kings made preparations to trim down their roster in advance of the October 1 deadline, placing defenseman Paul LaDue and forward Mario Kempe on waivers, according to multiple reports.
Waivers 29/09/2019 pic.twitter.com/sFLJQxAFHj
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) September 29, 2019
Though the team was happy with Kempe’s play and Todd McLellan spoke highly of him, his likeliest destination at the time of his signing was Ontario, a bind that became stronger with Blake Lizotte’s emergence in training camp. He’s more interested in the opportunity presented in Los Angeles but would provide important veteran minutes for a Reign team that will be firmer and more seasoned up front than a season ago.
LaDue had to rehabilitate a knee over the off-season and fell behind when camp started. It’s tough luck – similar to that experienced by Jonny Brodzinski, who blew out a shoulder in a preseason game last season – for a player with five goals and 17 points in 67 career games. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best Paul LaDue. I’m sure there’s more there,” Todd McLellan said Thursday.
He expanded on LaDue’s situation Sunday morning, saying, “he’s had a catch-up camp.”
“He’s a great player, he’s an NHL player. We expect him to be back, but it’s almost unfair to be out as long as you were, come to training camp, play two games, maybe have one good practice, and then the team has to make decisions based on waivers and spots and all of that type of stuff. It’s unfair to him, and really, it’s unfair to the group making the decision. It’s a crappy situation to be in. We hope he gets down there if he clears waivers and finds his game quickly and becomes an option for us.”
Cap-compliant rosters of at most 23 players are due October 1. The Kings will be down to 23 healthy bodies when LaDue and Kempe are either claimed or clear, as Derek Forbort (back) will not start the season on the active roster. They would not have to cut another player if they so choose.
The 23 healthy bodies, minus those on waivers:
Forwards (13): Michael Amadio, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Carl Grundstrom, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Ilya Kovalchuk, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Blake Lizotte, Tyler Toffoli, Austin Wagner
Defensemen (8): Tobias Bjornfot, Drew Doughty, Ben Hutton, Kurtis MacDermid, Alec Martinez, Matt Roy, Joakim Ryan, Sean Walker
Goalies (2): Jack Campbell, Jonathan Quick
Italics denote waiver-exempt status
As I’ve shared since Wednesday, Tobias Bjornfot is expected to start the season with Los Angeles. This is based more on general understanding than anything specific, but I’m expecting him to get up-to-nine games with the NHL club, at which point they’ll make a decision whether to activate the full first year of his entry-level contract. I doubt that will happen – again, that’s largely speculative – and he will be either assigned to Ontario or loaned to Djurgardens. I’m also expecting Kurtis MacDermid to make the team, so if they do choose to open the year with 22 players (McLellan said that in a perfect world he’d prefer one extra forward and one extra defenseman, though that’s not always feasible given waiver status and available minutes), he shouldn’t be expected to be placed on waivers.
Lance Bouma, who attended Los Angeles’ training camp on a PTO, is now on an AHL PTO, which may last up to 25 games. There’s no timetable on this arrangement, though the Reign must either offer him an AHL contract or release him from the PTO upon the conclusion of the 25th game, December 11 versus Stockton.
Bouma, for those who recall his standout play while Flames usurped a playoff spot from the Kings in 2015, is a competitive, character-driven leader capable of providing both hard, grinding minutes as well as a top-six complement to more skilled players. He’s coming off a major knee injury that limited him to three games in Switzerland’s NLA last season, so he’ll obviously be monitored as he looks to continue a career that reached an early zenith as a member of the Vancouver Giants’ 2007 Memorial Cup team that also included Milan Lucic, Craig Cunningham, Cody Franson and Jon Blum.
Bouma skated on a line with Nikolai Prokhorkin and Sheldon Rempal during practice Sunday morning at Toyota Sports Center. The Reign’s final preseason tune-up is against San Diego at Honda Center Monday night at 7:00 p.m. Parking and tickets are free.