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Matt Greene could return to Kings by late April

Defenseman, who had back surgery in January, is skating again and could return to the team just in time for the playoffs.

March 29, 2013|By Lisa Dillman

Consider this: The Kings might be able to enhance their roster with a valuable addition, just in time for the playoffs, and the defenseman would come with zero acquisition cost.

Hello, Matt Greene.

The Kings have been without the services of Greene this season with the exception of one game. Greene, who had back surgery in January, has resumed skating, and his projected return to the lineup is for late April, according to General Manager Dean Lombardi.

Greene, who is not on this five-game trip with the Kings, skated for 15 minutes Thursday. Lombardi said via text Thursday night that Greene's "projected return is one more month."

The stay-at-home defenseman was injured in the season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 19 and had surgery for a herniated disk. Lombardi initially said he thought that Greene would be out for two to three months.

With this latest timetable, the expectation is that Greene would be available for the opening round of the playoffs. The Kings' final game of the NHL's shortened season is April 27, against the San Jose Sharks.

Not only does Greene provide a solid presence on the blue line — and has long been a penalty-killing fixture — but was one of the Kings' alternate captains, an important veteran voice during the team's run to the Stanley Cup last season.

Greene and another injured defenseman, Willie Mitchell, were with the team during its visit to the White House on Tuesday. There have been no projections on a return for Mitchell, who has been dealing with a lingering knee injury. As far back as early February, the Kings were operating on the premise that Mitchell was done for the season.

KINGS AT MINNESOTA

When: 5 PDT.

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul.

On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 1150.

Record vs. Wild: First meeting of season.

Etc. The Kings arrived in Minnesota ahead of the Wild. Minnesota had its seven-game winning streak stopped Friday night in Dallas. Goalie Matt Hackett of the Wild was to make his season debut Saturday.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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