General Manager Dean Lombardi says he thinks there's a good chance… (Dirk Shadd / McClatchy-Tribune )
With questions clouding the playing future of defenseman Willie Mitchell, the Kings are looking at newly acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr as more than a short-term solution.
The Kings traded for the 32-year-old Regehr from Buffalo for two second-round draft choices Monday night. He had his first practice with the Kings on Wednesday and General Manager Dean Lombardi talked about his impact, especially if Mitchell does not return next season.
"I think there's a good chance we can retain him," Lombardi said of Regehr, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. "This wasn't looked at as just a player for a rental. We're looking at this as a guy that can fit with us for a number of years."
But, for the first time, Lombardi addressed the possibility of Mitchell's future beyond this season. The veteran had two surgeries on his knee, the most recent coming this week. His agent suggested, via email to The Times, that Mitchell could return next season.
"At least we've got some finality that he's not coming back this year," Lombardi said. "... I guess it's safe to say there's a legitimate concern now whether he plays next year. It could be premature but it's possible where I wouldn't thought it possible.
"We always thought, 'OK, if we don't get him this year, this isn't serious.' But apparently some other things might have shown up."
The Kings made their deals before the NHL's trading deadline Wednesday, and this move reunites Regehr with Coach Darryl Sutter. He played for Sutter in Calgary when the Flames reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.
"I'm really really happy," Regehr said. "For a few different reasons: Being in a position to win again and with a team that has proven it can do it in the past and wants to do it again. I'm very excited about that. Also familiar with Darryl as a coach and knowing his style and how demanding he is."
He is going from a tough situation in Buffalo to the midst of a playoff race with the defending Stanley Cup champions. This is not quite the Kings team he played against during his Flames days.
"They play a little bit different style," he said. "Back when I was playing for Calgary it was a little bit more of a passive style. Now it's a little bit more of an aggressive, forechecking style. And trying to get all five guys out there, working together and being close to one another in all three zones."
Lombardi talked about the fit being good for the Kings on several levels. Not only is Regehr in the mix but also Matt Greene has resumed skating and could be ready for the playoffs.
"That element he brings is something we need to add to the mix," Lombardi said. "I think you put Greene back in this lineup, and now you have that mix of puck moving and hard-to-play against.
"...This guy's character is off the charts. He is no picnic to play against. This is a guy you'd rather have on your side than to play against."
Regehr jokingly talked about having to reach out to one of the Kings, a former foe, to make amends.
"I remember I separated Justin Williams' shoulder in the corner one game so maybe he's not quite happy with me," Regehr said. "We'll try to work it out. Water under the bridge."
KINGS VS. MINNESOTA
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Wild: 0-1.
Etc. Minnesota did not sit still on trade deadline day, most notably acquiring captain/right wing Jason Pominville from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goalie Matt Hackett and forward Johan Larsson on Wednesday.