On Saturday, May 14, the Ontario Reign defeated the San Diego Gulls by a score 2-1 winning the best-of-seven series and advancing to the AHL Western Conference Finals. The Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate team will either face the Lake Erie Monsters or the Grand Rapids Griffins beginning next weekend.
Reign goalie Peter Budaj has a 7-2 record through the first two rounds of the playoffs posting a 1.73 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage. Team scoring is led by center Nic Dowd who has eight points in nine games. Dowd, along with two other members of the Ontario Reign will be restricted free agents this summer.
Players Set to Become Restricted Free Agents
The Kings have a total of seven restricted free agents including NHL defenseman Brayden McNabb. McNabb played 81 games in the 2015-16 NHL regular season scoring two goals and 14 points with a plus-11 rating and 92 penalty minutes. McNabb also appeared in all five of the Kings playoff games scoring zero points and had a minus-4 rating in the first round against the San Jose Sharks.
Two of the other six RFAs also saw time with the big club this season: defenseman Derek Forbort and the aforementioned Ontario Reign playoff point-scoring leader Dowd. Forbort played 14 games with the Kings this last season scoring one goal and one assist. In the 40 games played with the Reign this season, Forbort has scored 10 points and finished with a plus-13 rating.
Dowd, a native to the state of Alabama, played in five games with the Kings late in the regular season not registering a point and finished with a plus-1 rating. In the 58 games Dowd played with the Reign this season, he had 14 goals and 48 points.
McNabb, Dowd, and Forbort are eligible for arbitration meaning if terms of a contract are not met by both parties, either side has the ability to elect a third party arbitrator to hear both sides and decide the salary. Forwards Andrew Crescenzi and Maxim Kitsyn are both RFAs and are both eligible for arbitration as well.
The 23-year-old Crescenzi was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Brandon Kozun and signed a one-year deal with the Kings worth $605,000 according to CapFriendly. Crescenzi, a native of Thornhill, Ontario, played in 67 games with the Reign this season scoring five goals and 21 points.
Kitsyn was a former sixth-round draft pick of the Kings in 2010 and signed a three-year entry-level deal with the team back in July of 2013. Kitsyn played two games with the Reign this season but spent the majority of the year in the ECHL with the Manchester Monarchs recording 26 goals and 55 points in 65 games.
The last two pending restricted free agents the Kings have are goalie Patrik Bartosak and defenseman Alex Roach. Bartosak was in the final year of his three-year entry-level contract until the team suspended him in November of 2015 after he was arrested for domestic violence charges. In February, Bartosak (and his contract) were loaned to HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga.
At 6-foot-5, Roach was a training camp tryout in 2011 while playing in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen. Kings signed Roach to a three-year entry-level contract before returning to the WHL until the 2013-14 season where he was assigned to the ECHL. This season with the ECHL Manchester Monarchs, Roach scored six goals and 30 points in 64 games.
The Manchester Monarchs advanced to the Western Conference Finals of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs but were knocked out in seven games by the eventual Kelly Cup winning Allen Americans.
Cole R. Querry resides in Southern California. Having played hockey through college and a background in science and math, he promises to bring an objective analysis to the team and sport he loves.