Jamie McBain's last NHL game wasn't that long ago — April 13 — but there is a significant difference between playing with the Buffalo Sabres back then and his newest employer, the Kings.
Let's put it this way: The Kings have been giving defenseman McBain a rushed, intensive course in Western Conference hockey. The Kings made it official Tuesday and signed McBain to a one-year, two-way contract. At the NHL level, he is making the league minimum, a salary-cap-friendly, $550,000.
"There's a lot to go over with him," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Tuesday after practice. "It's way different coming to this conference. Pace of play is way different."
He will wear No. 5, a number most recently worn by defenseman Keaton Ellerby, who was lost on waivers last season. McBain, who had been with the Kings' minor league team in Manchester, N.H., on a pro tryout, has 275 games of NHL experience, most of it with the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season, McBain was with the woeful Sabres, who lost their final seven games on their way to the league's worst record.
"He hasn't played on a good team, a big difference," Sutter said. "Good kid. Good skill set. The next part is, the game."
Oh, the game.
That would be Wednesday against the host Ducks, not exactly the easiest initiation. In a perfect world, the Kings would have recalled defenseman Jeff Schultz from Manchester, but he makes too much money to fit under the salary cap. They were forced to play with only five defensemen Saturday against Vancouver because of the salary-cap woes and the injury to defenseman Robyn Regehr.
To get McBain on the active roster, the Kings had to designate defenseman Slava Voynov as a non-roster player. Voynov's $4.1-million salary still counts against the cap as he continues to be paid during his suspension.
Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the NHL after he was arrested Oct. 20 on suspicion of domestic violence. Redondo Beach police detectives met with officials from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office Monday to review the case. Voynov has been skating at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, most recently working under the direction of Kings assistant coach John Stevens.