By Surly Jacob.

The Kings roster is taking shape.

After a hefty round of cuts today that saw 15 players sent to the Monarchs, Colten Teubert assigned to juniors, and Dennis McCauley released from his tryout, the Kings’ are down to just 35 players left at camp.

Feeling the cold blade of Dean’s axe was a disappointed Oscar Moller, who will start the season in Manchester, despite playing 40 games last year with Kings. “I’m gonna make the team this year again,” Moller proudly announced last week in an interview (here). Unfortunately for Moller, the Kings’ have other plans for him, presumably to score buckets of goals at the minor level, which he skipped almost entirely last year, save for a short conditioning stint after a shoulder injury. If those 40 NHL games taught us anything about Moller, it is that he has heart and character to spare. A miracle would have to occur for Moller not to get a call-up at some point during the season.

For the players remaining, there are three major battles left in the war for roster spot.

Jonathan Bernier will fight to unseat Erik Ersberg as the presumed back-up goalie, and even strive to upset Jonathan Quick as the anointed starter. The youngster has not been tested much in his two outings, but he has skated off with two wins.

On defense, with Davis Drewiske recently being named to the top six to start the season, Alec Martinez, Thomas Hickey, Joe Piskula, Drew Bagnall and Andrew Campbell will claw and scratch for the final spot on the team. There is also the option of carrying 8 defensemen, but with so many of them being young and needing ice-time to develop, Bagnall and Piskula stand out as the only real options for an 8th defenseman. Lest not we forget Peter Harrold, who has played forward the entirety of training camp, but can fill on defense at any time.

The last battle is for the 4th line. Richard Clune, Brandon Segal and John Zeiler will fly with wreckless abandon to be the team’s equivalent of getting shampoo in your eye, or, more appropriately, squirting it in someone else’s. Kevin Westgarth will attempt to leave a bloody mess of bodies between him and current Kings’ enforcer Raitis Ivanans. Finally, Gabe Gauthier, Brad Richardson, Marce-Andre Cliché and Trevor Lewis will do their best to not screw up worse than the other guy while staying out of the way of the train of goons they will be anchoring.

However, there are some conflicting reports about Gauthier. Rich Hammond reports that Gauthier remains in camp (here), while the Kings’ official website reports that he was cut (here), though Gauthier’s name appears on neither the camp roster or cut list. I’m going with Hammond for now that he did not get sent to Manchester.

It is also far too soon to completely count out exciting young forwards Kyle Clifford and Brayden Schenn, who dodged the hatchet for now. Both have impressed Coach Murray. After last night’s victory over the Ducks, Murray said of the two “Whoever they’ve played with, in the exhibition games, or in practice and scrimmages, they’ve looked very good. Really good, it’s pretty impressive actually the fact that they’re 18 years old and showing composure and making plays and competing.” See his whole interview here.

Locking down a roster spot for the season is going to be borderline impossible for either of these kids, however their play just may well earn them a taste of NHL.

I’d put Peter Harrold into the mix, but I believe he is not going anywhere and will either play regularly or be in the press box.

With Moller out of the picture, Teddy Purcell is all but assured a spot on the 2nd line along Stoll and Brown.

The next preseason game is on Tuesday in Kansas City against the Islanders. The puck drops at 5pm.