Kings acquire defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Hurricanes
Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Andrej Sekera.
So will this be the Kings’ hat trick of successful deals at, or right before the trade deadline? The first two trades proved to be launching pads to the Stanley Cup championship.
Close to three years to the date of the Carter deal, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi on Wednesday went all in again with Sekera, acquiring the skilled, puck-moving defenseman from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a first-round pick and a prospect, defenseman Roland McKeown.
Of major import: The draft pick is lottery protected. In other words, the pick is for this year if the Kings make the playoffs. It would have been especially risky not to protect it because this draft is considered exceptionally strong.
For Lombardi, the Kings’ eight-game winning streak shifted the dealing mode to buyer from potential seller.
“The players dictate a lot of what you do,” Lombardi said on a conference call. “Given what they have accomplished and the way that they’ve responded here. You sit and you say, ‘You know what? Let’s get aggressive here and make this team better.’”
Lombardi said he felt like he owed it to his players to make an aggressive move, a tribute to what they’ve done in the past and how they’ve handled this curious season, saying: “I think they deserve it.”
As recently as last week, Lombardi felt it difficult to delve into the market because of salary-cap constraints created by the uncertainty regarding suspended defenseman Slava Voynov.
Voynov, who is facing a felony domestic violence charge, is due to go on trial next month in Torrance.
But the Kings’ GM wasn’t about to tip his hand or start bidding against himself. The due diligence regarding Sekera has been long in the making because Sekera played for Kings executive Michael Futa when Futa was general manager of a junior team, Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League in Canada.
Sekera, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He had two goals and 19 points for the Hurricanes in 57 games. He is a countryman and good friend of Gaborik’s and they represented Slovakia at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Bad weather could delay Sekera’s travel to Los Angeles, and it appears he could make his Kings debut Friday against the Ducks.
Regarding his long-term plans, could he be more than a rental?
“We’re open to everything, but right now we’re focusing on getting him into L.A., acclimating with the team and playing hockey,” said player agent Allan Walsh, who represents the defenseman. “July 1 is a million miles away.”
It’s that way for the Kings too. Sekera nicely fills the void created by Voynov’s absence and the concussed Alec Martinez. But Lombardi could not say if he has written off the possibility of Voynov returning.
“It’s like a chemistry project,” he said. “It is fair to say it is very uncertain and that is what lends itself to having X,Y and Z and everything on the board.
“As a practical matter, we don’t have an idea. Any clearer than you.”
If Voynov were to be eligible for reinstatement, it would test the cap-solving abilities of Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ vice president/hockey operations and legal affairs. “What do you call these guys now? Scientists or whatever?” Lombardi said.
It is likely that his work has been completed before Monday’s trade deadline. The team and its winning streak prompted the all-in move. Lombardi also said that there is a chance that left wing Tanner Pearson (leg surgery) could return before the end of the regular season.
“They made me start working, try to go out and get them some help, try to improve them,” Lombardi said. “I don’t know. Haven’t we seen this before?”
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa
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