Those pesky LA Kings have grabbed all the headlines this week. However, don’t overlook what’s happening a little further down the hallway at TSPC. The Ontario Reign are busy plotting their own 2021-22 season and the list of names who should be available to them is rather daunting, to say the least.
Much like our recent ‘Here’s the Entire LA Kings Plan’ article, we’ll attempt to break down the AHL situation in a somewhat easy to digest manifesto below.
We can begin with the laundry list of players from this past season who won’t be coming back:
Forwards
Blaine Byron – unrestricted free agent
Mikey Eyssimont – signed with Winnipeg
Nick Holloran – unrestricted free agent
Boko Imama – traded to Arizona
Drake Rymsha – unrestricted free agent
Devante Smith-Pelly – unrestricted free agent
Defensemen
Mark Alt – unrestricted free agent
Daniel Brickley – unrestricted free agent
Cameron Gaunce – unrestricted free agent
Cole Hults – traded to Arizona
Jack Sadek – unrestricted free agent
Goaltender
Troy Grosenick – signed with Boston
Additionally, Lias Andersson split time between the Reign and Kings last year (including being a point-per-game player in his 15 GP with Ontario), but he’s expected to be a full-time NHLer next season.
While that may appear to be a sizeable group of departures, as we’re about to lay out in detail, coach John Wroblewski will still have way too many players when training camp opens in early September.
SEVERAL ROSTER ADDITIONS

Earlier this summer, Ontario announced they had re-signed three players: captain Brett Sutter, Jacob Doty, and Adam Johnson. While none of those would be considered true additions, as they played games for the Reign last season, the latter is an intriguing one. He’s sort of new. Johnson was originally drafted by the Penguins and was a mid-season addition last year, only suiting up for 14 games. He put up 11 points in those 14 games and has shown to be more than capable of providing offense, both at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the past three years.
In the aforementioned Imama/Hults trade with Arizona, the Kings picked up left wing Brayden Burke from the Coyotes. Now 24 years old, he had 52 points (21 G, 31 A) in 51 AHL games in 2019-20. Somehow, he only managed one goal in 28 games this past season. He’ll need to find his former scoring touch for Wrobo to put him in the lineup on a nightly basis moving forward.
Earlier this week, LA signed a pair of players to one-year, two-way contracts, picking up goaltender Garret Sparks and forward TJ Tynan. Essentially, Sparks is the Kings third-string goalie. He will need to clear waivers before officially being assigned to Ontario, yet the plan would be for him to start off with the Reign and be available as the 3G should the big club need him.
In Tynan, they added the reigning (and defending!) AHL MVP. He’s a seven-year pro who is coming off of two solid seasons with the Colorado Eagles, where he posted 47 points in 42 games (2019-20) and 35 points in 27 games (2020-21).
Earlier today, Ontario also added a trio of players on AHL/ECHL only contracts. Brett Kemp is a center and was the leading goal scorer for WHL Medicine Hat this past season. Nikita Pavlychev is a 6-foot-7 forward who was originally drafted by the Penguins, played at Penn St before turning pro last summer. Goalie John Lethemon is truly the definition of a depth player, as he will almost surely be with ECHL Greenville.
Another player recently added on a minor league deal was goaltender Lukas Parik — see his full profile in our 2021 Kings Prospect Report. It was a creative signing, as it allows him to play pro hockey next season without signing his Entry Level contract and taking up one of the Kings 50 NHL contracts.
Defensively speaking, Jordan Spence has been added to the mix coming off of another successful year in junior hockey. He was formerly named the QMJHL Rookie of The Year in 2019 and then Defenseman of the Year in 2020. Spence also just missed out on making this list (hint, hint).
Helge Grans, LA’s second round pick in 2020, was also signed to a three-year Entry Level Contract earlier this summer. From what we’ve been able to gather, he’s coming over to play in North America next season rather than remain in Europe for one more year.
PRE-LINEUP DEPTH CHART

Taking this in baby steps, let’s take any players who could be coming down from LA (and there will be quite a few, as explained here) and put them to the side for now.
Simply looking at a depth chart of players and not fully slotting them into their positions, this is likely what Wrobo will start out with on his whiteboard:
Turcotte – Byfield – Kaliyev
Kupari Tynan – Fagemo
Johnson – Burke – Madden
Doty – Sutter Dudas
Chromiak *
Sodegran
Thomas
Kemp
Pavlychev
Wolanin Clague
Moverare * Strand
Spence – Durzi
Phillips
Grans
Villalta
Sparks
Ingham
Parik
Currently, the contract status of Chromiak and Moverare remains TBD. We assume the latter situation is more likely to be worked out soon.
For those asking themselves, ‘Why is Byfield back in the AHL after being penciled in for an NHL roster spot just as recently as a few weeks ago?’ We explained the whole story here.
A quick pass through the list can provide some easy thinning:
— Akil Thomas is not due back for a few months, he’ll start out on IR
One tangential note:
Update on Akil Thomas — he had surgery on both shoulders this summer, with the second one coming earlier this week. Nothing major, just cleaning up some stuff that's been bothering him since junior. Heard he's expected back in about 4 months.
Target:
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) July 24, 2021
— Sodegran missed all of 2020-21 after back surgery. We’ll assume he starts out in the ECHL once he’s cleared to play.
— Unless Vilalta completely goes sideways in camp, he’s expected to be the Reign starter next season. Sparks will serve as the backup. This ships Ingham and Parik to the ECHL (perhaps even through a secondary working agreement, so they both don’t end up on the same team splitting valuable minutes in the crease).
FIRST DRAFT — REIGN OPENING NIGHT LINEUP

Again, without even factoring in any additional NHL players sent down after clearing waivers, the picture is starting to come into focus:
Turcotte – Byfield – Kaliyev
Kupari Tynan – Fagemo
Johnson – Burke – Madden
Doty – Sutter Dudas
Kemp
Pavlychev
Wolanin Clague
Moverare Strand
Spence – Durzi
Phillips
Grans
Villalta
Sparks
Now, what happens when a handful of guys are assigned from the Kings?
As we broke down here, LA will most likely only have room for four of these players:
Anderson-Dolan, Frk, Grundstrom, Lemieux, Lizotte, Tkachyov, and Wagner
That means three of them could be headed to Ontario… provided they clear waivers.
JAD is exempt from waivers, so that makes things a little easier with him.
Could GM Rob Blake swing a deal between now and October 10 to send one (or more) of these players to another team, rather than risk them to waivers? Sure. However, that’s much easier said than done. That new team would also need an NHL roster spot for said player or they’d essentially be back to square one, putting the player on waivers.
In the article linked a few paragraphs above (where we projected the LA Kings Opening Night Lineup), we predicted JAD heads to Ontario to start the season, largely due to his waiver status – not because of his abilities. For the sake of discussion, we’ll assume Lemieux and Wagner are the other two players sent down. Will they clear waivers? We’ll let you and your friends debate that topic. To make things easy here, we’ll say they clear.
Now what?
SECOND DRAFT — REIGN OPENING NIGHT LINEUP

Much like the Kings roster, most of the Reign’s tough decisions will come at forward, as the defense and goaltending are all but set:
Turcotte – Byfield – Kaliyev
Kupari Tynan – Fagemo
Johnson – JAD – Madden
Lemieux – Sutter Dudas
Wagner
Burke
Doty
Wolanin Clague
Moverare Strand
Spence – Durzi
Phillips
Grans
Villalta
Sparks
Which would also mean Kemp and Pavlychev start out in the ECHL.
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