For Linden Vey, the long wait appears to be over.
The promising center has been playing hockey since he was 4 years old, dreaming of reaching the NHL. Vey had been playing in the minors and was called up by the Kings last week and he is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
In Thursday's morning skate, he centered a line of left wing Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. Colin Fraser stayed on for extra work, usually a sign of being a healthy scratch, although you never quite know with unpredictable Kings Coach Darryl Sutter.
Vey admitted to feeling some nerves.
"A little bit," he said. "You've got to think of it as just another hockey game. Obviously, it's a little more than that. I've been playing ever since I was 4 years old and looking forward to this. There will be a little nerves the first shift. Once you get into it, you'll be fine.
"You look up to players [as a kid] and you have favorites, but this is a position you want to be in."
Injuries paved the way for Thursday's development. Forwards Jeff Carter (foot) and Jarret Stoll (upper-body injury) are sidelined although Stoll took a brief turn on the ice by himself after the morning skate. Defenseman Matt Greene is also out, meaning Alec Martinez returns to the lineup, paired with veteran Willie Mitchell.
"I think we've got a lot of depth in this locker room and a lot of guys that can play a lot of different roles, and step up when they need to step up too," Martinez said. "Obviously you can't replace guys like that. We have a lot of good hockey players in here."