It was a busy Friday morning for Los Angeles and their AHL affiliate, Manchester Monarchs. Mayor John Hoven broke the news early this morning via Twitter that prospects Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli were on the way up to LA. On the heels of this, Los Angeles Time reporter Lisa Dillman noted that Keaton Ellerby had been placed on waivers and then dropped the bomb that Jeff Carter was expected to go on IR. It created much buzz among fans and the media as the news was a bit shocking. Carter logged 23:03 of total ice time in the Kings’ 4-3 OT victory over the Sharks and did not show outward signs that he was suffering from any kind of injury/ailment.
The news was as much of a shock to Carter’s teammates as it was to the public. Both Anze Kopitar and Kyle Clifford admitted to reporters that they’d had no idea that Carter was even injured and only found out when they saw him entering the El Segundo practice facility wearing a boot. Coach Sutter refused to comment on the matter. Jon Rosen has all the details and comments at LAKingsInsider.com.
In an interesting twist, with two free roster spots, the Kings have chosen to call up two of their most promising prospects, center Linden Vey and right wing Tyler Toffoli, two thirds of Manchester’s top line. Last season, Vey, Toffoli and left wing Tanner Pearson were one of the top scoring lines in the AHL, routinely going up against other team’s top lines and successfully winning puck battles against them. Before his call up in March, rookie Tyler Toffoli was well on his way to being one of the top goal scorers in the AHL. Despite missing nearly a month of the regular season, Toffoli was given the title AHL Rookie of the Year while Vey capped off a stellar sophomore season with a team-leading 67 points, good enough for fifth in the league. While Manchester’s top line had a bit of a slow start, they have found recent success together, leading the team with a combined 30 points (Vey 3-8-11; Toffoli 7-5-12; Pearson 5-2-7 [Note: These numbers are prior to Monarchs’ Nov. 1st game]).
The decision to call up Vey is an intriguing one given how deep the Kings are at center with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser all currently holding roster spots and Trevor Lewis proving to be a viable option at center as well. Where the Kings lack highly skilled depth is on the left side. After Dustin Brown, there is a steep drop off in talent. Dwight King has recently proven himself to be a potential top six winger in the future and has been rewarded for his strong play by skating on the first line with Kopitar and Williams. However, Kyle Clifford and Daniel Carcillo are not top six players and have found themselves fighting for a spot on the 4th line. Rumors flew all week that a roster move would soon come as Dean Lombardi was in Manchester, NH just last weekend to check in on the prospects. The general consensus was that Tanner Pearson would get the first call up having had strong rookie and training camps, not to mention the fact that he’s a natural LW. But given the lack of offensive production from the Kings’ current bottom 6, perhaps it’s not such a strange idea that the first call ups go to Toffoli and Vey, Manchester’s two leading scorers.
For now, the Kings’ plans for the rookie calls up remain a mystery. It remains to be seen if either one or even both will draw into the lineup versus Nashville, a very tough conference opponent that is far superior to most other teams at blocking shots and collapsing down low (a source of frustration for many teams) or if they have to wait until Buffalo comes to visit on the 7th. Given Sutter’s lack of desire to express his plans, it’s far too difficult to predict what he might decide, although that doesn’t stop fans from trying. Jewels from the Crown decided to give line combos a try, even though lines are pretty fluid during a game. Give it a whirl in the comments below or head on over to JFTC or LAKI to chat with other fans about possible line combinations and how the prospects will be used.
In unrelated news, prospect defenseman Alex Roach, who started the season in Manchester before being assigned to the Ontario Reign of the ECHL, has been sent back to the WHL. He only played in a few games with the Reign and was considered a bit timid by head coach Jason Christie.