Defenseman Robyn Regehr (24) will undergo medical exams that he must pass… (Dirk Shadd / MCT )
Glendale, ARIZ. — Greetings from Jobing.com Arena, where the Kings held their morning skate in advance of Tuesday’s game against the Coyotes. Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start. Winger Jordan Nolan will return to the lineup in place of Dustin Penner, who sustained a lower-body injury Sunday at Dallas. Nolan was skating alongside Kyle Clifford and Brad Richardson on the fourth line.
Newly acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr was not with the team. He was due to arrive in Los Angeles late Tuesday and will undergo medical exams that he must pass in order for the trade to become official. The Kings agreed to send second-round draft picks in 2014 and 2015 to Buffalo for Regehr, who can be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Apparently, there’s no specific concern behind the exam. It’s mostly caution and the Kings’ desire to avoid repeating the unhappy experience they had when they traded Ryan Smyth to Edmonton two years ago. Their first deal, for Gilbert Brule, didn’t go through because of medical concerns that would have prevented them from buying out Brule’s contract. Their second deal, which brought them Colin Fraser, went through but Fraser needed foot surgery and the Oilers had to pay part of his medical bills.
Getting back to Regehr, he’s expected to assume the duties that Willie Mitchell filled last season, including penalty killing. Mitchell has yet to play this season because of problems he experienced after knee surgery and the Kings have missed his ability to kill penalties and clear opposing forwards out of the slot.
“He’s an identity player and that’s why he’s sought-after, because he’s a top character guy and he understands his role as a team player and he’s all the good things that don’t get noticed,” said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, who coached Regehr when both were employed by the Calgary Flames.
Kings captain Dustin Brown was delighted to know he’s likely to soon have Regehr on his side.
“I think the best way for me to put it is the same way as when we got Mitchy,” Brown said, referring to Mitchell. “I played against him a lot [when Regehr was] in Calgary. He’s one of those guys that I didn’t like playing against. The way I play, he was hard to play against and that’s a good thing for our team. He’s big, he’s strong, like I said, the best way to put it is I didn’t like playing against him, so I don’t think many guys will.”
Brown said Regehr, who stands 6-foot-3 and is listed at 225 pounds, is “just a big body,” along the lines of Mitchell and of Matt Greene, who underwent back surgery after playing one game this season.
“He takes up more space,” Brown said.
The trade of future assets for someone who can provide immediate help means that General Manager Dean Lombardi is serious about going for a second straight Stanley Cup title. The NHL trade deadline is noon Pacific time Wednesday.
“We’ve had internal discussions as a team about doing what is necessary to put ourselves in position to be able to defend the Stanley Cup,” Brown said. “With the trade deadline coming, this whole next 24 hours is part of the process and we’ll see where it goes. But I like the addition.”
Sutter said he had spoken to Regehr by phone and that they had enjoyed a good relationship while with Calgary.
“He was one of the captains. Appointed by the coach,” Sutter said.
“Smart captain,” Sutter said.
Asked to sum up Regehr in one sentence, Sutter offered several. “It’s what his identity is. Good pro, good leader, good competitor,” Sutter said. “He’s a winner.”
Regehr’s arrival will mean a current defenseman will lose playing time but Sutter wouldn’t specify who that will be. He said Regehr will replace Mitchell in terms of his role and his minutes and added, “Who replaced Willie Mitchell in our lineup? I think Keaton Ellerby has done an awesome job. He’s given us size but nobody’s replaced Willie Mitchell. We’re trying to give ourselves a better opportunity to make the playoffs.”
One last note: Nolan, who couldn’t crack the lineup for the Kings’ 3-2 victory at Dallas on Sunday, said he’s excited to be playing again. “It doesn’t feel good being a healthy scratch, so I just want to bring some energy to the team and, hopefully, stay in the lineup,” he said.
[Update, 2:30 p.m.: With Regehr’s impending arrival about to create a crowd on defense, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi traded defenseman Davis Drewiske to Montreal for the Canadiens’ fifth-round pick in the June draft.
Drewiske had played in 20 games and had one goal, four points and a plus-three defensive rating. Last season he played in only nine regular-season games and no playoff games but the Kings successfully petitioned the NHL to have his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup.]
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