In a strategic move, the Los Angeles Kings have chosen to make their final roster adjustments ahead of schedule, well in advance of the Sunday deadline. On Friday afternoon, the Kings officially announced their decisions to loan out three promising players—Alex Turcotte, Alex Laferriere, and Brandt Clarke—to the Ontario Reign.
While the departures of Turcotte and Laferriere come as no great shock, as the Kings’ current lineup could not accommodate them, it’s the demotion of Brandt Clarke that raises eyebrows.
The battle for a roster spot had always been intense between Clarke and Jordan Spence, but it appears that Spence has emerged victorious, at least for the time being. A closer look at their performances during training camp suggests that keeping Spence on the roster for the opening night was indeed the right call.
Clarke showcased a commendable performance, but Spence’s outstanding display clearly earned him the coveted spot on the roster. Furthermore, Spence’s previous experience in the AHL, where he proved his capabilities as a dominant defenseman, made sending him back to Ontario a less appealing option. In contrast, Clarke, though NHL-ready, stands to benefit significantly from gaining more experience in AHL games, where he can continue to refine his professional hockey skills.
It’s essential to understand that Clarke’s stint in the AHL may not be a season-long affair. Todd McLellan, the Kings’ head coach, emphasized earlier in the week that the player occupying the third-pair right defense position during one game might differ from the next. This flexibility is due to the waiver-exempt status of both Clarke and Spence, making swapping them in and out a straightforward process.
With these decisions made, the Kings now face only two more pivotal roster choices. The first is determining whether Andreas Englund or Tobias Bjornfot will remain on the active roster, and the second is deciding between Pheonix Copley and David Rittich. While the outcome remains uncertain, early predictions point towards Bjornfot and Copley retaining their spots, but the final verdict awaits confirmation.