Heading into training camp, Joe Corvo was expected to be the newest face on the blueline as the Kings looked to plug some holes on the blueline with the loss of Philippe Boucher to the Stars and Aaron Miller out until mid-November after going under the knife after suffering a sports hernia… but a couple of surprises emerged out of camp, one of them being 6’4 235 lb. defenseman Brad Norton.
The other surprise was Joe Corvo not making the team, as he had a strong start in the beginning of camp and an impressive showing in the first preseason game against San Jose, but his lack of consistency by not giving his all on some shifts contributed to him to start the 2002-03 season in Manchester.
It also wouldn’t have been a good idea to pair up Schneider with the right handed Corvo as both defensemen are known primarily for their offensive abilities with the puck and having two defensemen pinching in would result in a number of outnumbered counter attacks against the Kings.
On a positive note, Corvo has picked up where he left off last season in the AHL, scoring three goals and adding two assists four games into the season. Jason Holland has racked up four assists in four games as well and was one of the last cuts on the team.
With Corvo being demoted, the Kings opted to sign unrestricted free agent Brad Norton, who was a camp invite. Mathieu Schneider personally requested to be paired with the rugged Norton who is a physical force in his own end. The Kings also signed seven year veteran Chris McAlpine as a depth defenseman, having appeared in over 200 games in the NHL. He has yet to play a regular season game with the Kings but look for him to get some ice time soon if Andreas Lilja continues to have problems covering his man in the defensive zone. Lilja has also been given some time on the powerplay as well and has shown some poise by keeping the puck in the offensive zone on clearing attempts and also provides a heavy shot from the point, but his lack of physical play and mishaps on defense may earn him some time in the pressbox.
Once Aaron Miller returns, the Kings have to decide on whom to demote. Andreas Lilja would have to clear waivers, which was a reason why the Kings kept him up on the pro team throughout last season. Chris McAlpine, who was exposed in the waiver draft, is more likely to be sent down to Manchester.
Five games into the season, the Kings have used the following pairings on defense.
LEFT DEFENSE RIGHT DEFENSE
Jaroslav Modry Lubomir Visnovsky
Brad Norton Mathieu Schneider
Mattias Norstrom Andreas Lilja
Chris McAlpine (scratched)
Aaron Miller (IR)