As the LA Kings trim their training camp roster down to 34, here’s a look ahead into the Ontario Reign AHL camp, which opened on Sunday.
With the Ontario Reign beginning their camp on Sunday, October 3rd, here’s a look at the players we can expect to see:
Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, Samuel Fagemo, Tyler Madden, Arthur Kaliyev, TJ Tynan*, Brayden Burke* Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Martin Frk*, Brett Kemp, Brett Sutter, Johan Sodergran, Jacob Doty, Nikita Pavlychev, Adam Johnson, Aidan Dudas
Markus Phillips, Sean Durzi, Jacob Moverare*, Kale Clague*, Jordan Spence, Helge Grance, Cameron Gaunce
Matt Villalta, Garrett Sparks*, Jacob Ingham, Lukas Parik
*Cleared waivers before being assigned to Ontario
One name you did not see there is Quinton Byfield, who will stick with the NHL team for the time being.
It should be pointed out, just because a player has been assigned to AHL camp does not mean they could not be back in the NHL camp or make the NHL roster for opening night. It’s important not to get too hung up on the names at camp initially, but it certainly makes for fun conversation.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was that of Clague being among the players put on waivers. Given the logjam of defensemen in Los Angeles, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. With many NHL teams going through similar roster crunches, the risk may have been small that Clague would end up being claimed, but there was at least one person surprised:
Everyone else cleared. Somewhat surprised Clague got through
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 3, 2021
The 23-year-old Regina native could be slotted in on the second pair with another defenseman who cleared waivers in Moverare.
In an attempt to not speculate too much with still a lot of action to take place between now and opening night, I’ll go ahead and take a crack at a potential lineup given only the players listed above:
Kaliyev – Turcotte – Fagemo
Madden – Tynan – Kupari
Burke – Anderson-Dolan – Dudas
Kemp – Sutter – Frk
Sodergan, Doty, Johnson, Pavlychev
Phillips – Durzi
Moverare – Clague
Spence – Grans
It’s all a guessing game as by the time the Reign faceoff in their first preseason game on Thursday night, the Kings would have played two more games, so we’re likely to see more roster shake-ups.
All that said, here are some of the things I’ll be watching for during Reign camp:
How do all of these center prospects shake out? Currently, it would seem either Turcotte or Kupari would slot in as first-line center in Ontario opening night, but if either – or both – of their futures with the organization is on the wing, how will that play out in the AHL? A now healthy Madden is another one that hopefully will start to see some positional clarity on this season.
After playing 34 games in the NHL last season, he seems to have a leg up to crack the Kings opening night roster. If he starts in Ontario, however, where will he fit? Will he play in a top-six role in the AHL to get him minutes, or will it be slotted on the third line more in line with where his NHL role could be? Whichever line it’ll be on, I suspect we’ll start to see JAD play more on the wing.
While Phillips-Durzi isn’t exactly set in stone, it’s probably the most likely and, at the very least, is 50% of what the top pair will be, as Durzi is sure to be RD1. But how the rest of the group shakes out remains to be seen. We got a look at a Spence-Grans pairing at the Rookie Faceoff with Spence playing his off-wing; that is a pair I think Reign fans could get excited about. I’ve often talked about my intrigue for Moverare. Assuming the young Swede clears waivers, you could have a potentially dominant second pair with him and Clague.
He could be the player I’m most interested in seeing not just at camp but throughout the season for Ontario. A very raw talent, how he develops in his first full season in North America will be worth watching. He’s among a number of what has become a strong right-shot defense pool of prospects for the Kings. It’ll be an opportunity for him to show what he’s capable of at the professional level.
The Reign will play two preseason games during camp – both against the San Diego Gulls. The first of which will be Thursday, October 7th at 7 pm from Toyota Arena. The second will be at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Monday, October 11th at 7 pm.
Not to sound like a broken record, but a lot can – and will – change between day one of Reign camp and Opening Night regarding the roster. But this is the first look that we’ll have at the potential roster for the 2021-22 AHL season.