Tomorrow’s story tonight …
The Kings were firmly entrenched in first place in the Pacific Division standings Wednesday, 10 points ahead of the second-place Arizona Coyotes, 12 ahead of the third-place Calgary Flames and 13 in front of the Ducks and Vancouver Canucks.
General manager Dean Lombardi wasn’t content, however.
Lombardi made a move to strengthen his team in the middle of the ice, and on the back end. He acquired veteran center Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick.
Lecavalier has played infrequently during the last two seasons with the Flyers and could get a chance to chase the Stanley Cup one final time in his career. He plans to end his career at season’s end, Lombardi confirmed during a conference call with reporters.
“There’s nothing better than to be on a team that’s been there,” Lecavalier said in an interview posted on the Kings’ website. “They’re obviously playing some great hockey. I know the Kings have high expectations for the players and I love that. … Just to be a part of that, it’s very exciting.”
Lecavalier, a 35-year-old who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1998, had zero goals and one assist in seven games for the Flyers this season, spending most of the team’s 38 games as a healthy scratch. He has scored 411 goals and 1,170 points during his stellar career.
Lombardi believes Lecavalier has more to give, and the Kings could use it.
“Vinny, at this stage of his career, it’s all about getting one last chance to win it all,” Lombardi said of Lecavalier, who was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning team that defeated the Darryl Sutter-coached Calgary Flames to win the Stanley Cup title in 2003-04.
“I think he’s hungry, and given his mindset, I think it’s a potentially great fit in his role.”
Lecavalier has two seasons remaining on his contract, which would have put any trade with the Kings into the not-happening category because of salary-cap concerns. The Kings have several core players who need new contracts at season’s end, including center Anze Kopitar.
The Flyers will play 50 percent of the salaries for Lecavalier and Schenn, Lombardi said.
“We could give him what he wanted, which is a serious shot at going out as a winner, but we could not make that commitment going forward,” Lombardi said of Lecavalier. “It kind of fit where he was with his career and his life.”
Schenn is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, but he could be a valuable addition to the Kings’ defense corps. Lombardi said Matt Greene, a member of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and ’14, is out for the season after having shoulder surgery.
Schenn, 26, has two goals and five points in 29 games this season.
Weal, 23, played only 10 games for the Kings and was scoreless.