Only days away from the NHL trade deadline, the Kings appear to be closing in on their second major move of the week.
The team is reportedly finalizing a deal to send Alec Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for two second-round picks.
As of Tuesday night, neither club had announced a trade, but the 32-year-old defenseman was held out of the Kings’ 6-3 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets for “precautionary reasons,” the team announced before the game.
According to TSN reporter Bob McKenzie, who broke the news in the afternoon, the move is expected to be completed Wednesday.
Martinez, who has spent all 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Kings, has been involved in trade rumors for weeks. A fourth-round draft pick in 2007, Martinez has only eight points (one goal, seven assists) and a minus-nine rating this season. His contract, however, which is worth $4 million in annual average value and doesn’t expire until the end of next season, made him one of the few desirable nonrental players on the league’s trade market.
“Where we are at the deadline, as we go forward we want to keep certain people healthy,” coach Todd McLellan told Fox Sports West, hinting at the seemingly obvious reason behind Martinez’s healthy scratch.
Once the deal goes through, it would make Martinez the latest long-tenured veteran to be dealt away by the rebuilding franchise.
This month, Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford were traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks, including a conditional third-rounder in 2021 with the potential to become a second-rounder. On Monday night, Tyler Toffoli was sent to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden, a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 fourth-rounder.
The Martinez move would follow the same pattern, the club swapping another of its Stanley Cup-winning stalwarts for more future assets.
“We set that direction out last year around Christmas,” general manager Rob Blake said during a conference call Monday night in which he confirmed the Kings were involved in other trade discussions. “We’ve got work to do here.”
Like those traded before him, Martinez’s departure further marks the end of an era. The Michigan native played a key role in the 2012 and 2014 title teams. In the latter season, he scored the clinching goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, tapping home a rebound in double overtime in Staples Center.
Martinez’s two best seasons were arguably 2015-16 (31 points) and 2016-17 (career-high 39 points), the only two times he has eclipsed the 30-point mark. His statistical production has dropped in the three seasons since. This season, he sat out more than a month after suffering lacerations to an artery and two nerves in his right wrist caused by an opponent’s skate.
Without Martinez on Tuesday, the Kings faltered down the stretch. With the score tied 1-1 midway through the second period, they gave up five goals over the final 23 minutes to end a winning streak at two games.
“He’s a tremendous player,” McLellan said about Martinez.
“We didn’t play two on ones any way we wanted to. Numerous opportunities where we poorly played them. Went to the puck carrier rather than taking away the back door. Didn’t break up passes. Alec is pretty good in that situation. But we have enough confidence in the players that are on this team to get the job done. They just didn’t play very well.”