Blake stays put, but Stuart, Aubin are sent packing

Times Staff Writer

Spring cleaning did not come early for the Kings, who took only limited action before Tuesday’s NHL trade deadline.

One defenseman, captain Rob Blake stayed, and another, the reliable Brad Stuart, was moved to the Detroit Red Wings for two draft picks, a second-rounder this year and a fourth-rounder in 2009. Stuart is projected to be a “perfect No. 4” defenseman, according to Detroit General Manager Ken Holland.

Additionally, Kings goaltender J.S. Aubin, who is in the minors at Manchester, N.H., was sent to the Ducks for a seventh-round choice in June. It was the first trade between the teams.


“Obviously we’re breaking it in slow,” Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi joked about trading with the Ducks’ Brian Burke. “We just put our toe in the water to see if we like it. If we like it, maybe we’ll try another one and get up to the fifth round.”

Lombardi said he came close to moving forward Scott Thornton, who, like Blake, had a no-trade clause.

“The one thing about our situation, it’s a little different,” Lombardi said. “You’re certainly not improving your team immediately. You’re trying to improve it in the future.”

That means compiling draft picks like a stack of playing cards.

Said a relieved-looking Blake, “Now we move on.”

There was a chance it would have been without the 38-year-old. The Kings asked Blake on Saturday if he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause. He would consider doing so only if his former team, the Colorado Avalanche, made a legitimate offer.

Colorado acquired one of its former players, defenseman Adam Foote, from Columbus -- a move that likely impacted the Kings’ plans.

“I can’t really answer that. Did it affect Colorado’s ability to make a legitimate offer? Probably,” Lombardi said.


One reason Blake wanted to stay with the Kings was to finish the job he started.

“As I said all along, we’ve got a good, young nucleus here and we need to build,” he said. “I know we’re at the bottom, but I think the guys understand here it’s an important finish these last 18 or 20 games. You’ve got to get respect from the rest of the league.”

Blake, who could return to action this weekend after being sidelined with a fractured left foot, is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

“That’s certainly something that needs to be discussed,” Lombardi said about the prospect of signing him. “If Rob performs like he did there when he got healthy, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be a fit.”

The departure of Stuart means more playing time for rookie defenseman Peter Harrold. Also Tuesday, the Kings assigned forward Teddy Purcell to their minor-league affiliate in Manchester.