Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kings Cuts Part V

So the final set of cuts has come down, and there are no big surprises (yet again). A few demotions do deserve comment however.

Jonathan Bernier (Goalie) - Manchester, AHL
- No real surprise here. Murray has been vocal in stating that Quick is the #1 keeper in Los Angeles this year. Add that to the fact that Bernier can go to Manchester without clearing waivers (Ersberg can not), and the fact that Bernier will be better served playing regularly as opposed to sitting on the bench, this demotion was as close to a foregone conclusion as I can imagine. That said, this will be an interesting spot to watch. If Bernier can become one of the best keepers in AHL (he's shown flashes of brilliance over the past couple years), he'll continue to push Quick for the starting job even from Manchester. And you can bet if Quick falters, Bernier will be all too ready to jump in and take his spot.

Thomas Hickey (Defense) - Manchester, AHL
- Again, not a big surprise to me. Coming into camp, Hickey was a bit of a long-shot to make the team, and it's perhaps a mild surprise that he's going back down to Manchester while Alec Martinez remains up with the big club, but in general this should be expected. I'd imagine Martinez is going to be heading back down to Manchester when O'Donnell's suspension is over two games into the season. As both Martinez and Hickey are talented youngsters, they're in the same position as Bernier. Significant playing time in Manchester will be more valuable to his development than being the 7th defensement on the Kings.

Kevin Westgarth (Center) - Manchester, AHL
- Easily the most obvious of the demotions. Westgarth played well in general this pre-season, and in my mind pretty well cemented his position as the heir apparent to Raitis. My guess is that Ratty has no more than a season or two left with the Kings, and as long as Westgarth doesn't regress, he'll be ready to take the spot at that time. It would be great if while working on his game in Manchester he's able to add an additional physical defensive aspect to his game, as well as better discipline.

Brayden Schenn (Center) - Brandon, WHL
- Schenn might be the player that most people were excited to see at Prospect camp earlier this summer, and has been a pleasant surprise for the Kings this pre-season. He's played a strong two-way game, and has managed to put a couple points on the board. While the team is pretty deep at Center, there is just no room for Schenn this season. Like Hickey and Bernier, the time spent playing at a high level will be more valuable than he would get if he stuck with the Kings. There's no question in my mind that if it were possible, Schenn would see time in Manchester. Since rules prevent it, we obviously won't see him until his junior season is over, and even then possibly only for a handful of games. Schenn's camp has solidified his position as a dominant prospect for the Kings, and justified why he's the #3 prospect on our list.

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