With a mind toward creating roster flexibility in advance of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the Kings put forward Marco Sturm on waivers Friday morning.
Teams have until 9 a.m. Saturday to submit claims on Sturm. If none do, he will remain with the Kings and is scheduled to be in the lineup when the Kings host the Colorado Avalanche at STAPLES Center on Saturday afternoon?
Why the move? The Kings currently have 23 players on their active roster -- the maximum allowed until March 1 -- and are widely known to be in the market for a forward in advance of the trade deadline.
If the Kings end up with more than 23 players, they would need to make a roster move, and the only waiver-exempt skaters on the roster are Kyle Clifford and Alec Martinez. If Sturm clears waivers, it would give the Kings the flexibility to send him to the AHL in order to create room for the hypothetical trade addition.
Sturm practiced Friday morning and, if he remains a King, is scheduled to retain his spot on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and right winger Wayne Simmonds.
``There's not a lot to say,’’ Sturm said after practice. ``Hopefully I'm going to be a King again tomorrow at the game.''
The season has been a series of fits and starts for Sturm. As he was in the late stages of recovery from major knee surgery, Sturm was traded to the Kings from the Boston Bruins in mid-December. After 15 games with the Kings, he left the lineup again because of knee tendinitis.
Sturm has played in the last two games, with one assist.
``On the on-ice part of it, we need more,’’ coach Terry Murray said. ``He's a player going through a situation -- as you all know -- with an injury, coming back, getting himself physically ready to play. He's been through the skating club for a couple of weeks. My view of it is that his conditioning is good. He's ready to get going.
``Everything is on page there. Now it's putting it all together on the ice, and being a good player to play on the top line and contribute to the hockey club and help us win games. I certainly could use more on that, but he's a player who can show me that veteran-player composure, making plays, carrying the puck, use his speed, his asset, and that's what I'll be looking for again tomorrow.''
Sturm met with general manager Dean Lombardi before Friday’s practice, and was scheduled to talk to Murray after practice about the waiver situation.
``I know I can play better too,’’ Sturm said, ``but for right now I'm sometimes limited. But again, I think I feel better. I'm going in the right direction. It just needs time, and I hope I can prove to all the guys in here that I can play better, too.’’
MARTINEZ RETURNS TO LINEUP
The Kings are expected to make one lineup change for Saturday’s game, with rookie defenseman Alec Martinez returning to the lineup in place of Davis Drewiske. Martinez had been a healthy scratch from the previous two games.
``I had a meeting with him the other day,’’ Murray said. ``The ability that he has is something that I want to see at the top all the time. I think he can be a very good player. I think he can be a very good defenseman, in your top four someday. It's a matter of pushing your own self to get to that pace every shift.
``When he does, he plays very well. When there's a little bit of a step back, on that, then it needs to be brought to attention. So, a couple of games and some meetings and we're looking for him to get right back in and start to play at a nice, high level again.''
PRAISE FOR BROWN, BERNIER, FOURTH LINE
Wayne Simmonds had two goals in Thursday night’s victory over Minnesota, and the Kings also got lower-profile strong efforts from Dustin Brown, who had two assists, and from the fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
``They were outstanding,’’ Murray said. ``That fourth line last night, in the second period, in my mind they turned the table around for us, with momentum and attitude, to get after it and show that hard work and intensity, anticipating the plays and just doing the right things on the forecheck side of it. You can start to build on that confidence, build on that momentum. To me, they get credit for the win, along with (Jonathan) Bernier. i thought Bernier's game was very good. They're the line that put the template in place for us last night, and we followed through, especially as we get into the latter part of the game.''