Kings General Manager Lombardi moved to fortify the third pair of his defense Wednesday by acquiring defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers, along with veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to add strength down the middle.
In return, the Kings sent rookie forward Jordan Weal to the Flyers as well as a third-round draft pick in 2016. Lombardi confirmed that the Flyers will be paying half the salary of the two players they traded to Los Angeles. To make roster space for the new duo, the Kings sent rookie defenseman Derek Forbort back to their minor league affiliate in Ontario.
Though the Kings have established a sizable lead in the Pacific Division, their third defense pair has been a troubling issue.
Schenn could give them the snarl and edge missing down the depth chart since the loss of the injured Matt Greene and departures of Willie Mitchell (free agency) and Robyn Regehr (retirement). Lombardi said during a conference call that Greene, who had shoulder surgery in December, is out for the season.
"We see a lot of Matt Greene in Schenn," Lombardi said. "He's still a young player. We think there's room to grow…. It's a chance for him to come in and be himself and not worry about being a top pick and all the expectations."
Schenn, 26, due to become an unrestricted free agent in June, is from the same draft class as Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Schenn was taken three picks later, at No. 5 overall. He has lagged behind the other defensemen from that noted group of 2008. Lombardi spoke about the familiarity between Schenn and Doughty and thought that Doughty would take the newcomer under his wing.
LeCavalier, 35, is planning to retire after this season, which works for the Kings in terms of financial negotiations with other players, such as center Anze Kopitar.
If Lecavalier has anything left, Coach Darryl Sutter could be the one to get it out of him. Sutter saw Lecavalier at his best when the center helped lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past Calgary in the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, when Sutter coached the Flames.
"It's made clear to us: It's all about getting one last chance to win it all," Lombardi said. "He's hungry and given his mind-set and the fit on this team, I think it's potentially a great fit in his role. That's the key."
Elements of the trade started brewing in October. Because Philadelphia General Manager Ron Hextall was once Lombardi's assistant general manager, Lombardi said it was an intriguing process.
"He knows all my tactics, so it's like negotiating with myself," Lombardi said. "Like looking at myself in the mirror. It's why he beat me up."
KINGS VS. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. PST.
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Update: Jeff Carter, who has missed the last five games, is moving toward a return. Sutter said the center's absence was especially notable in a loss to Colorado on Monday. "It showed last game … down the middle of the ice, a big difference. … His skill is evident and missing when it is not there," Sutter said.