If the Los Angeles Kings didn’t quite seem themselves for parts of this season and into the playoffs, there may be a good reason for that.
Defenseman Matt Greene missed most of the regular season and playoffs with a back injury, but now that he’s made his return to action the team couldn’t be more pleased as Mike Richards tells Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times.
“The things that you guys don’t see — the leadership in the dressing room, that powerful voice — I think all year we missed him,” Richards said.
“On the ice, too, just how physical he plays and how hard he is to play against. Even before we got Regehr, too, I think that’s kind of what we were lacking on the back end. We have some skilled guys, guys that move the puck well, but I don’t think you can replace someone who plays that physical and how hard both of those guys are to play against, and Matt coming back is a big boost for us.”
With Greene and Robyn Regehr the physical part of the game is more than set on the back line and guys like Slava Voynov and Jacob Muzzin are thriving thanks to that. It also helps the Kings look like they’ve got some of that championship swagger back as well. That can only spell trouble for everyone else left in the playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.