Just because the NHL decided to grant the Los Angeles Kings salary-cap relief for suspended defenseman Slava Voynov doesn’t mean the Kings are going to use that financial flexibility right away.
“I think we’re OK right now in terms of numbers,” GM Dean Lombardi told the L.A. Times. “The other thing, it’s not just we’re going to go out and blow the cap space to blow it. It still has to be the right guy. … Let’s get real. Finding top-four defensemen, they’re not available. Because a lot of times to be able to do that you’d better have a guy to replace him because top-four guys are so important to each other’s teams.”
The Kings’ active roster, as of today, includes seven d-men: Drew Doughty (who’s been playing a ton), Alec Martinez (out with a finger injury), Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, and Jamie McBain.
When Voynov was suspended, he was averaging 23:11 of ice time.
Related: Need a d-man? Here are five potential trade targets
Pinky fingers are serious business. Just ask Darryl Sutter.
The Kings head coach explained as much on Thursday, saying injured defenseman Alec Martinez — who underwent surgery for a busted pinky last week — isn’t close to returning to the lineup.
“We’ve just got to wait for the wound to heal and that’s going to take some time. It’s got to heal,” Sutter said, per the L.A. Times. “They nearly cut his finger off. So I don’t think he can play in a week …. Your fingers do have a pulse in them and it does hurt. And Marty’s tough. We’ve seen him play lots, not with little-finger injuries but with big injuries. It’s painful.
“Put the glove in there and sweat in there and you’ve got to be careful. You could start losing ground to an infection. We miss him a lot but he can’t play at 20 percent.”
Sutter’s diagnosis flies in the face of the one-week recovery period originally floated by GM Dean Lombardi. Martinez has already missed a full week (three games) and doesn’t sound as though he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game in Dallas.
This injury, combined with Slava Voynov’s indefinite suspension, means L.A. will continue to roll with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Matt Greene, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb.
For most people, $160 is a big deal. It’s generally not something that NHL teams sweat, however, but Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston indicates that was gap between the Los Angeles Kings dressing five versus six defensemen tonight:
All signs point to the Kings only dressing five blueliners in part because of an injury to Robyn Regehr, as indicated yesterday.
The Kings did their best to put on a brave face to LA Kings Insider, even if head coach Darryl Sutter said, “Is it ideal? No.”
“I think the last time we had big minutes like this was Game 1 against Anaheim in the playoffs,” Matt Greene said, noting what ended up being a 3-2 overtime win. “I think Reg got banged up pretty quick and then a lot of guys played a lot of minutes. But it happens. You just have to go through what we can play here and that’s it.”
Expect a busy night for Drew Doughty in particular, as LA Kings Insider notes:
Still, Doughty has cracked the 30 minute plateau three times in the last five games and ranks second in the league with a 28:10 time on ice average. He was excellent in logging a season-high 31:46 during Tuesday’s win in Dallas and followed that up with nearly 30 and a half minutes in a shootout loss against the New York Islanders on Thursday.
That isn’t the only injury situation for the Kings, either, as Justin Williams appears to be a game-time decision against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets visit to L.A. wasn’t even two minutes old before things began to get out of hand at the Staples Center.
It started with Columbus forward Corey Tropp hitting Kings’ Justin Williams from behind with an elbow.
Tropp did not receive a penalty for the hit. Matt Greene meanwhile got five minutes for fighting, two minutes for instigating and a 10 minute misconduct.
Moments later, as the teams were lining up for a face-off, Jordan Nolan decided to poke Scott Hartnell from the bench.
Hartnell recieved a two minute penalty for his swing and miss.
Tough start to the season for the defending Stanley Cup champs.
The Kings, who lost 4-0 in their season-opener against San Jose, will be without defenseman Jake Muzzin and forward Trevor Lewis for Saturday’s game against the Coyotes, L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter announced.
“They’re both frustrating injuries,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “There’s nothing you can do about it. When they’re ready, they’re ready. I mean, Muzz is doing everything. It’s frustrating.”
Muzzin, who missed the San Jose game with an undisclosed injury, took part in some of Friday’s practice but was held out of 5-on-5 work. Lewis, who recorded six shots and a minus-1 rating in 10:29 TOI on Wednesday, is reportedly day-to-day with a “mid- to upper-body injury,” per the L.A. Times.
With Muzzin out, the Kings will probably once again go with a top-six defense of Drew Doughty, Robyn Regehr, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov, Matt Greene and Brayden McNabb. McNabb, who made his L.A. debut against the Sharks, played quite a bit (23:27) while Greene saw less than 14 minutes of ice time.
As for Lewis, it sounds like Jordan Nolan will likely to replace him in the lineup.