The Kings reached into their past, opting for a familiar face and making a low-risk move Friday by bringing back defenseman Rob Scuderi.
It was accomplished in what amounted to a swap of minor league defensemen. The Kings sent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the Chicago Blackhawks for Scuderi, and the Blackhawks will be paying a portion of Scuderi’s salary.
“Quality person who slides right into our team,” said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, via email Friday.
“Bring experience and leadership. Easy transition for him obviously and for us too.”
The Kings had been looking for a fill for the back end that takes the salary cap into account for next year. While Scuderi still has one year left on his contract — a four-year, $13.5-million deal signed with Pittsburgh in 2013 — the Penguins were paying a third of his remaining salary when they shipped him to Chicago in December in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley.
The Blackhawks will be responsible for 50% of Scuderi’s salary while the Kings will be paying 15% of Ehrhoff’s contract, according to those familiar with the details of the transaction. The difference, also, was that Ehrhoff was on an expiring contract.
Scuderi’s fit with the Blackhawks was about as uncomfortable as Ehrhoff’s with the Kings. Scuderi had been with the Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate in Rockford, Ill., after clearing waivers and Ehrhoff was sent to the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate in Ontario, Calif., also after clearing waivers.
Scuderi, who turned 37 in December, was a big part of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2012. He left the Kings, via free agency, in 2013 for Pittsburgh to be closer to family members on the East Coast.
With Scuderi on his way to Los Angeles, Kings defenseman Kevin Gravel was reassigned to Ontario on Friday. Gravel played in four games with the Kings, making his NHL debut on Feb. 11.
Scuderi likely will play protected minutes with the Kings in a defensive structure that can help camouflage his eroded skill set.
At least that’s their hope. The plus side is that Sutter trusts veterans and Scuderi is comfortable with the system and an easy fit in the dressing room, all potential benefits for the stretch run.
With Monday’s trade deadline looming, the Kings have been linked, along with several other teams, to Edmonton Oilers winger Teddy Purcell.
Purcell started his NHL career with the Kings before getting moved to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in 2010. He had a career-high 24 goals and 65 points with the Lightning in the 2011-12 season.
He was a last-minute scratch for the Kings-Oilers game Thursday night and did not play in the Edmonton-Anaheim contest Friday night, a typical maneuver by an organization getting close to making a deal.
KINGS VS. BUFFALO SABRES
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 790.
Update: The Kings have won their last three games by a score of 2-1. In fact, they happen to be 8-0-4 in games that have ended 2-1 this season. The unusual 8 p.m. start at Staples Center, by the way, has to do with the outdoor game at Denver on NBC and the need to keep clear of the exclusive three-hour TV window for that event.
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa