Kings’ prospects dwindle down due to injuries, but the ones left continue to impress
The bottom-six forward unit for the Kings was bursting with possibility going into training camp. Prospect Gabriel Vilardi headed a handful of young forward candidates to fill roles there.
It’s still interesting, but for unfortunate reasons.
Vilardi is out with a chronic back injury and Jonny Brodzinski suffered a shoulder injury Thursday that is believed to be long term.
“I think Jonny’s going to be a while,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “I’m not optimistic.
“It creates an opportunity on right wing and it might require us to shuffle some people around, but we’re going to take a look at a lot of things.”
The bottom-six picture became clearer Saturday when the roster was trimmed to 33 players. Among those who made the cut were forwards Michael Amadio, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Emerson Etem.
Amadio impressed coaches with his offseason training program following a 37-game rookie season. Anderson-Dolan, the Kings’ second-round pick after Vilardi last year, continues to be a relentless two-way forward who is trying to make the opening night roster or return to his junior team.
Etem scored a goal Thursday and is the lone player remaining on a tryout contract. It helps his case to be reunited with former Ducks teammate Nate Thompson in what could be two-thirds of the Kings’ fourth line.
“It’s a nice feeling when you played with a guy and you don’t have to introduce yourself and get to know him,” Etem said.
Stevens showed several looks Saturday and put Alex Iafallo back on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Ilya Kovalchuk was on a line with Jeff Carter and Adrian Kempe, while Amadio centered Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.
Stevens said it was in the name of experimentation.
“Better take a look at it now before the bullets start flying, right?” Stevens said.
Kopitar and Kovalchuk have played two games together and both said there is still a feeling-out process to go through.
“We all know it’s not going to happen overnight, so it’s a work in progress, but we’ve got to get on it now, before the start of the season,” Kopitar said.
Kovalchuk scored a highlight goal Thursday but acknowledged it will take time to know his new linemates. He has consistently said the first regular season game will be a true measure of where his legs are after five years away from the NHL. Asked if the game seems faster, Kovalchuk said, “I’ll tell you after the San Jose game (on Oct. 5).”
Derek Forbort (back) practiced and said he could get into a game later in preseason if he progresses. … Forwards Mike Eyssimont, Sheldon Rempal, Brad Morrison and Drake Rymsha were among those assigned to Ontario. … Zack Mitchell and Alex Lintuniemi were placed on waivers.
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