Having depth on defense is good, but making the choice of who to keep and who to send down is a difficult decision to make. This is the situation that the Kings management is currently facing. With Drew Doughty on injured reserve, Slava Voynov got the call to fill his spot and made his NHL debut in the Kings home opener. That left Davis Drewiske in the same position he was in most of last season: a healthy scratch. With speculation that Doughty could return to the line-up on Tuesday against New Jersey, who stays?
Before Doughty’s injury, the Kings were carrying seven defensemen. Why not just play Drewiske? During training camp, Voynov impressed the Kings management so it was only expected that he would get the call. Chatter amongst Kings fans is whether or not they think Voynov should stay with the big club and what should become of Drewiske. There are a couple of questions that I have my own answers for.
Why not keep Voynov and send Drewiske to Manchester?
While it sounds like a good decision at first, who does it benefit? Keeping Voynov would be great, but he would be taking the seat that Drewiske has kept warm for him. Not getting playing time vs. playing in the AHL and working on bettering his game? I’d take the latter. He’s young, waiver exempt and still has some things to work on. Sending Drewiske to Manchester also opens the door for other teams to claim him off of waivers.
What about sending Martinez down?
The thing about Alec Martinez is that he’s improving with every game. Sending him down wouldn’t make sense, and chances are he wouldn’t make it to Manchester before being claimed by another team. And again, since Voynov is waiver exempt, it still seems like the logical choice to send him back.
Comparison: Davis Drewiske has more experience at the NHL level, playing in 98 regular season games (including one game this season) over the last four seasons. Alec Martinez has played in 70 (6 this season) over the last three seasons, not including 6 playoff games last season where he recorded one assist and was a -1. Slava Voynov has played in three games so far this season, has no points but is a +2. Drewiske has 16 points (1 goal, 15 assists) in his 98 games. Martinez also has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in his 70. While Drewiske hasn’t been bad, Martinez has been better.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Voynov. He’s gotten praise from headcoach Terry Murray and Willie Mitchell and looks ready to make the jump to the NHL full time. Unless there are injuries or disappointment in other players, there really doesn’t seem to be a spot for him which raises another concern. We’ve seen young players like Bud Holloway, Corey Elkins and Oscar Moller pack their bags and head to Europe. Frustration with not making it up in the NHL is unfortunate with these young players, especially Holloway who was, in my mind, right on the brink of making the team. It’s something to think about in a situation like this, but hope that it doesn’t happen.
With Doughty possibly coming back for the next game, I would expect Voynov to be sent back down to Manchester.