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Kings send Simon Gagne to Flyers

KINGS FYI

Left wing is traded to former team for a conditional draft choice in 2013, clearing salary-cap space.

February 26, 2013|By Lisa Dillman

If the goals were to clear cap space and continue to stockpile draft picks, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi accomplished both with one move Tuesday.

Lombardi traded left wing Simon Gagne to Gagne's former team, the Philadelphia Flyers, in exchange for a conditional draft choice in 2013. The Kings receive a third-round pick from Philadelphia if the Flyers make the playoffs or a fourth-round pick if the Flyers do not.

Gagne, a healthy scratch the last four games, had five assists in 11 games and had not played since Feb. 17 at Chicago, seemingly an ill fit in Kings Coach Darryl Sutter's system. His cap hit is $3.5 million, which, of course, will be pro-rated in this lockout-shortened season.

He did not request a trade but likely would have done so, eventually, telling a French Canadian TV reporter that it was "tough not to play."

"It was just a number of things. He wasn't fitting in, so to speak," Lombardi said in a conference call. "That said, this is an NHL player that's proven to play on a good team. You don't want to do this unless you feel fairly comfortable on what you have coming through the minors. It's similar to when you move Jack Johnson for [Jeff] Carter when you have [Slava] Voynov coming through.

"We feel pretty good about our depth up front in the system and that opens up a roster spot ... and allows us some flexibility in terms of space and cash at the [trading] deadline."

Related to organizational depth, Kings executives are especially high on three youngsters in the minors in Manchester, N.H.: Tyler Toffoli, a gifted goal-scorer; power forward Tanner Pearson and right wing Linden Vey.

The Gagne deal represented the resumption of activity between the Kings and the Flyers, frequent trade partners. Gagne sat out the last 46 games of last season because of a concussion but was a surprise insertion in the lineup midway through the Stanley Cup final between the Kings and New Jersey Devils.

Injury updates

Lombardi said the Kings will likely carry eight defensemen when Alec Martinez returns. Martinez, who suffered an upper-body injury Feb.11 at St. Louis, could be out another week or two. Defenseman Matt Greene, who was injured in the season opener and required back surgery, is slightly ahead of schedule.

Lombardi said that defenseman Willie Mitchell had a procedure on his injured knee Tuesday, believed to be platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Mitchell, who had surgery during the lockout, has not played this season.

"It's something he wanted to try," Lombardi said. "Apparently he did this a couple of weeks ago and it helped him. We're still in that same holding pattern."

Multiple injuries accelerated the learning curve of the youngsters on defense with veteran Rob Scuderi as the mentor. (Lombardi said he has informal talks with Scuderi about another contract.)

"It's not only the kids, [Keaton] Ellerby, [Davis] Drewiske and [Jake] Muzzin who are just sowing their oats, but you've got Voynov and Drew [Doughty] playing expanded roles," Lombardi said. "This is the first time Drew's killing penalties. He's not being sheltered."

KINGS VS. DETROIT

When: 7 .

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network. Radio: 1150.

Record vs. Red Wings: 0-1-0.

Update: Mixture of good/bad news for Detroit on the injury front. Forward Johan Franzen, who sat out seven games, is expected back but forward Valtteri Filppula (shoulder) is out. Goalie Jimmy Howard is scheduled to start.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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