Robyn Regehr (24) pursues the puck, as does New Jersey Devils' Tom… (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images )
The question has bedeviled the Kings throughout this lockout-shortened season: What to do about the Willie Mitchell conundrum?
In acquiring 32-year-old veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres on Monday for two second-round draft picks, the Kings took a significant step in trying to fill the injured Mitchell's absence, which will be keenly felt during the playoffs.
Although injured defenseman Matt Greene is expected to return at the end of April, the Kings have been working under the premise that Mitchell and his injured knee won't be back this season. The deal won't be official until Regehr passes a physical.
"We will withhold comment on the trade until after the medical exam is completed," Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement.
Additionally, the Kings put winger Dustin Penner on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury, retroactive to Sunday.
There are the fingerprints of Kings Coach Darryl Sutter all over this deal. The physical, hard-hitting Regehr, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, was a longtime fixture with the Flames and played for Sutter in Calgary, a tenure highlighted by a run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004.
Regehr, 6 feet 3 and 226 pounds, is a left-handed shooter. This season, he had two assists in 29 games, along with 21 penalty minutes and was a minus-four.
The Kings have been linked to Regehr because of the Sutter connection. They had been looking at other options in recent days but circled back to Buffalo and the deal came together in the early evening Monday.
Not only will the trade bring experience to the young defensive corps, it will take some of the initial playoff pressure off Greene, who has been limited to one game because of back surgery. One Western Conference general manager thought Greene, by the nature of his stay-at-home style, would not take long to adjust despite sitting out so much.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.