Kings recall defenseman Jacob Moverare from AHL-Ontario + Hiller on Replacing Anderson

Jim Hiller put it well after last night’s win over Anaheim.

You don’t travel to Western Canada with six defensemen.

The LA Kings have recalled defenseman Jacob Moverare this afternoon from the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Moverare is accompanying the team on its flight to Edmonton and will be an option beginning with tomorrow evening’s game versus the Oilers, continuing into Calgary and Vancouver. Three big games within the Pacific Division and the Kings will not only need another option on the backend, but protection against potential injuries or illnesses on the trip.

The opening was created by the absence of defenseman Mikey Anderson, who will not travel with the team here today. Anderson is out “week-to-week” with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against Nashville. Naturally, he did not play last night versus the Ducks and has already been ruled out for all three games in Canada on this trip. Unlike his teammate Viktor Arvidsson, who is also week-to-week, Anderson was not placed on long-term injured reserve yesterday. He remains on the active roster for the time being, though he could always be placed on LTIR retroactively should that situation make more sense down the road. Were Anderson to be a candidate for LTIR, it means his injury would rule him out at least through the team’s Midwest trip in mid-March, with his earliest possible return date being March 19. Not the case right now, so we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

“He brings so much, the leadership, the character, those are the things that we really value within the team and in the dressing room, that you might not see as much,” Hiller said of Anderson. “On the ice, that carries over. Honest player, shot blocker, does all the little things, the dirty work, that sometimes goes unnoticed. On the penalty kill, he’s done a tremendous job there this year, so we’ll miss him in so many areas. On the ice for sure, but definitely in the dressing room.”

On night one without Anderson, it was Vladislav Gavrikov who slid up with Drew Doughty, while Brandt Clarke also saw his minutes increased. Hiller previewed that before the game, while also noting that Matt Roy would likely see an increased role as well against Anaheim, while Andreas Englund also played a little bit more on the penalty kill in Anderson’s absence. Gavrikov logged right around three minutes more than his season average, while Roy exceed his by nearly three and a half and Englund was nearly two minutes higher. Clarke’s 18:12 was the second most of his young career. Now, there was overtime, so 84 and 3 each got an extra shift, but it was replacement by committee yesterday.

In Moverare, the Kings are recalling a known commodity to round out their core of defensemen.

Moverare was the player chosen to fill Vladislav Gavrikov’s place in the lineup when he missed five games earlier this season. Not only did he fill in, but he filled in admirably.

In his short stint with the Kings this season, Moverare was on the right side of just about every possession metric at 5-on-5 play, with the Kings most notably controlling a whopping 85 percent of high-danger chances with Moverare on the ice. Now, there’s not a defenseman in the NHL who would maintain that number over 82 games, but in his five games, Moverare was solid. He was on the right side of scoring chances, at just under 65 percent, and just below 63 percent in terms of shots on goal. While I don’t think he’ll ever be mistaken for an offensive defenseman, Moverare also doesn’t try to be anything that he isn’t. He embraces the role of shutdown blueliner, who takes care of his own end of the ice first and plays to his strengths. Still, he was over a half-point-per-game in the AHL, with 18 from 34 games, and scored the overtime game-winning goal for the Reign the other night. Good sign of confidence at that level.

With the Kings, though, that’s not what Moverare would be called upon for. He has the lowest on-ice shots against per/60 and the lowest high-danger chancers per/60 against of any King. Again, five-game sample size, so take it for what its worth. What it shows, though, is that Moverare is a player who is more than capable of playing at this level and should the Kings opt to deploy in him in a divisional game, on the road, in what is sure to consistently be hostile environments, there likely won’t be much hesitation.

Moverare brings the Kings to a traveling party of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders. The Kings traveled to Edmonton earlier this afternoon, in advance of a 3-in-4 in Western Canada, which begins tomorrow. Kings @ Oilers tomorrow night, followed by a visit to Calgary on Tuesday and the first matchups of the season against the Pacific Division leaders, the Vancouver Canucks, on Thursday.

We’ll get word on whether or not he’ll check in come tomorrow morning. For now, it’s off to Edmonton

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