Jamie McBain

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Struggling Coyotes waive veteran d-man McBain

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Off to a disappointing 1-4-0 start in which they’ve allowed 21 goals, the Coyotes made a roster move on Monday, placing blueliner Jamie McBain on waivers.

McBain, 28, signed with the Coyotes on the second day of free agency, after scoring nine points in 44 games for the Kings last season. The former Hurricane and Sabre also played in four postseason games for the Kings, averaging just under 11 minutes per night.

McBain was a prominent fixture on the Arizona defense to start the year, dressing for the club’s lone win — over Philadelphia in the opener — and subsequent losses to Ottawa and Montreal.

He actually played a season-high 18:49 against the Habs.

With McBain out, head coach Dave Tippett has gone with a six-man defensive unit of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn, Michael Stone and Jakob Chychrun.

Stone returned from a knee injury two games ago, which pushed both McBain and Kevin Connauton to the sidelines.

With nearly 350 games on his resume and a reasonably cheap pricetag ($650,000 cap hit), McBain could be a candidate to get plucked off waivers, tho it seems highly unlikely.

Teams have been loathe to add blueline help via waivers thus far, with the likes of Mark Barbeiro and Cody Goloubef passing through unclaimed.

Coyotes assign Michalek to AHL

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The Arizona Coyotes announced today that veteran defenseman Zbynek Michalek has been assigned to AHL Tucson.

Michalek, 33, cleared waivers prior to the start of the season. He was scratched for the Coyotes’ season opener on Saturday, a 4-3 OT win over Philadelphia.

Michalek played 70 games for Arizona last season, but new additions Alex GoligoskiLuke Schenn, Jamie McBain and Jakob Chychrun all played Saturday, as did Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Connor Murphy.

Michalek is in the final year of his contract, which has a cap hit of $3.2 million.

The Coyotes’ next game is Tuesday in Ottawa, the first of a six-game trip. Injured defensemen Michael Stone and Kevin Connauton will reportedly accompany the team. With today’s assignment of Michalek, it’s likely that at least one of them is ready to go.

Kings lock up Brayden McNabb for two more years

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The Los Angeles Kings have an interesting summer ahead of them, but before tackling the bigger questions they got one significant task off their plate by signing defenseman Brayden McNabb to a two-year extension, per the Kings’ PR Twitter feed.

McNabb was eligible to become a restricted free agent after completing his two-year, $1.3 million contract. His new contract will come with an annual cap hit in the $1.7-1.75 million range, according to LA Kings Insiders’ Jon Rosen.

The 25-year-old blueliner primarily played with Drew Doughty at even strength over the course of the 2015-16 campaign, but to call him a first-pairing defenseman would be a bit misleading. McNabb certainly saw his role increase substantially in 2015-16 when compared to the previous season, but he ranked fourth among Kings defensemen in terms of minutes per game with 18:48. It’s worth adding that McNabb was used considerably more in the first half of 2015-16, but he saw his role decline significantly as the season progressed, in part due to the acquisitions of Luke Schenn and Rob Scuderi.

McNabb was also limited to 14 points, down from 24 in 2014-15, but the 6-foot-4, 216-pound defender utilized his size by being a physical presence. Although sometimes he was aggressive to a fault as his 92 penalty minutes demonstrates.

This can ultimately be seen as a bridge contract and if he continues to develop he might be in line for a much bigger payday once this deal is done.

The Kings now have five defensemen signed to one-way contracts and two more blueliners — Schenn and Jamie McBain — that are eligible to become unrestricted free agents. Los Angeles is also facing the possibility that it might lose Milan Lucic if he tests the open market.

With Martinez out, Kings need more out of McBain

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Even for Drew Doughty, the amount of work he’s getting is troubling.

Doughty was already asked to log 28:01 minutes per contest during the regular season without a single game off and now he’s averaging 31:11 minutes in the playoffs. To be clear, that puts Doughty on track to record a higher minutes per game average than he has in any of the Kings’ prior playoff runs.

The absence of Alec Martinez (undisclosed) is a factor, but regardless of the rationale, one has to wonder if fatigue will become an issue for Doughty if this continues. That puts pressure on Jamie McBain to step up so that Kings coach Darryl Sutter can use him more.

After McBain logged just 5:42 minutes on Monday, Sutter seemed to acknolwedge that he needed more out of the 28-year-old defenseman.

“I don’t think you’ll go very long in a series, whether it’s whoever you’re talking about, with guys that are only playing five-to-10 minutes,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “You might be able to stretch a series out, but you won’t win it.”

Game 4 against the San Jose Sharks is set to start at 10:30 p.m. ET tonight. The Sharks will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead on their home ice. Meanwhile, Martinez is back in Los Angeles.

Kings can play Marian Gaborik in Game 2 (if they choose to)

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Marian Gaborik has been medically cleared to play for the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2, but that doesn’t guarantee that he will.

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter explained what will go into the decision to play (or not play) Gaborik against the San Jose Sharks with L.A. down 1-0, as LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen reports.

“He’ll go through warm-up, and he’ll declare himself,” Sutter said. “He’s been medically cleared, so it becomes a coach’s decision [and] a player’s declaration of whether he’s ready or not.”

The Kings might see some other lineup tweaks, as it sounds like Jamie McBain might be called upon to replace Alec Martinez (who didn’t skate this morning, according to Rosen.

Gaborik has been sidelined with a knee injury since Feb. 12. He clearly boosts the Kings’ skill level, but will the rust show in a challenging situation for Los Angeles? At 34, it’s reasonable to ask if Gaborik can jump right into the fire of postseason hockey.