Afternoon notes: Jones on his way, Williams won't play until Monday, Ersberg still waiting for another chance
Defenseman Randy Jones, claimed by the Kings from the Flyers off re-entry waivers Thursday, is scheduled to fly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on Friday but probably won't be inserted into the Kings' lineup for a while after that, barring an emergency.
Kings Coach Terry Murray, who worked with the Flyers' defensemen during his tenure as an assistant coach there, said Jones would provide much-needed depth. While rookie Alec Martinez has been recovering from a sprained ankle the Kings hadn't had an extra healthy defenseman and were using winger/defenseman Peter Harrold on the blue line occasionally but mostly up front.
The Kings will be responsible for only half of Jones' salary, or $1.375 million.
"He’s thrilled. Very, very excited. He’s looking forward to joining us and get back into the NHL," Murray said of Jones, who had been playing for the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate in Glens Falls, N.Y.
"He’s a pretty good player. He’s a player who plays in all situations. He can play on your power play, penalty kill, be a defending player. He’s a pretty good all-around player, so when he does get into the lineup there won’t be any hesitation in any one of those situations."
Murray also said he planned to take it slowly with Jones and not stick him in the lineup immediately. The Kings' schedule accommodates that: After Thursday night's game against Vancouver, they don't play again until Monday at Phoenix and after that, not again until next Thursday.
"I really like what our group of defensemen are doing right now. I’m not going to disrupt it but the depth is an issue that we did have some concern about coming through the early part of the season and we’re now in decent shape in that way," Murray said.
Winger Justin Williams has progressed in his recovery from his unspecified lower-body injury but he hasn't fully recovered, the coaching and training staffs told him to put off his return.
"Every injury is kind of mysterious nowadays," he said after skating for 20 minutes Thursday morning. "It's going good. I just feel like I’ve been missing so many games. I’ve been out six days and I’ve already missed four games....I'm going to wait until it’s 100% and we’ve got some good practices coming up and I’ll wait until Monday."
At least Williams won't have to worry about becoming the next Wally Pipp. Murray said the other day that Williams will get his old job back on the right side with Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar, even though Wayne Simmonds has excelled there.
"When everyone's rooting for everybody and everybody’s competing I think that’s really healthy. Wayne has played really well on that line," Williams said. "He’s made some real good strides and shown that he can be an offensive player, too. I think he’s played great. I think the team has played great since I’ve been out, too. So that’s always promising. When you’re out when the team is doing well then you don’t push yourself to have to get back and maybe before you’re ready. I agree with the decision today."
Finally, goaltender Erik Ersberg, who was erased from Murray's penciled-in goalie roatation after one weak performance against the New York Rangers, said he's being patient and hoping to get the call again soon. After that game, Murray said he will stay with Jonathan Quick indefinitely, but Quick can't play 81 games and Murray is going to have to call on Ersberg at some point.
"Everybody wants to play. I mean, it’s not a secret," Ersberg said. "But on the other hand Quick’s been playing really well so…It’s a cliché but I just try to work hard in practice and hopefully I get my chance. Hopefully I can make more of it than the last time."
One game seems too short a sample to nail Ersberg to the bench. He shrugged at that suggestion.
"That’s how it is sometimes, I guess," he said. "I just try to stay ready for the next one."
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott