As long as Drew Doughty remains unsigned — and there’s no telling when the restricted free-agent defenseman’s dispute with the Kings will be resolved — Thomas Hickey and Viatcheslav Voynov will continue to dream their NHL dreams.
Each made a solid impression in the Kings’ first Staples Center exhibition Wednesday and stayed in firm contention for a roster spot.
Voynov, who was given Doughty’s locker at the Kings’ practice rink Wednesday morning, came to the net to poke in a loose puck during a power play and Hickey had a goal disallowed on a dubious goaltender interference call on teammate Kyle Clifford. More important than the Kings’ 2-1 shootout loss in a split-squad game against the Phoenix Coyotes was that Hickey, 22, and Voynov, 21, looked poised and determined to seize their opportunity.
Voynov’s goal was made possible when off-season acquisition Mike Richards, making his debut in a Kings uniform, threw the puck toward the net to Dustin Brown. The puck was at Brown’s feet until Voynov swooped in to jab it past the acrobatic Justin Pogge at 5:53 of the second period.
The Coyotes had scored first, at 8:21 of the opening period, when Ethan Werek took a fine setup from Darian Dziurzynski and flicked a shot past Jonathan Quick, who was replaced by Martin Jones before the third period.
Brown and the Coyotes’ Andy Miele each scored in the second round of the shootout and Oliver Ekman-Larsson won it in the fourth round.
In the other split-squad game between the Kings and Coyotes, Ethan Moreau, Tyler Toffoli and Dustin Penner scored in the Kings’ 3-2 victory at Glendale, Ariz.
Roster is trimmed
Before the games, the Kings cut their training camp roster to 54.
Left wing Michael Schumacher, centers Jordan Weal and Taylor Carnevale, defenseman Pierre Durepos, goaltenders Christopher Gibson and Michael Morris, and right wing Michael Kantor were reassigned to their respective junior teams. Right wing J.D. Watt, defenseman Ray Macias and center C.J. Stretch were released from their professional tryout agreements and defenseman Teigan Zahn was released from camp.
Doughty has been skating daily with the junior-level London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, according to the Knights’ general manager, Mark Hunter. He said Wednesday that Doughty has been working out diligently. “He looks in great shape. Ready to go,” Hunter said via email. “Working hard.”