Proactive Los Angeles Kings Get a Badly Needed Missing Piece in Andrej Sekera

No matter how the landscape has moderately shifted this season, it's still a two-team NHL until another team says otherwise.

It's the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings, the league's past three Stanley Cup champions. Everything else is white noise.

Consider the biggest move of the day by the defending champion Kings, made almost a full five days before the March 2 trade deadline.

The Kings shipped a conditional first-round pick and prospect Roland McKeown to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Andrej Sekera, a pending unrestricted free agent and arguably the best available rental on the market. 

Sekera fills a huge need for the Kings, who have struggled mightily (at least, before winning eight straight) on the back end since losing Willie Mitchell to free agency and having Slava Voynov suspended early in the season after he was charged with domestic violence. The Kings usually go shopping for offense (Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik) this time of year, but they had a glaring issue on the blue line and general manager Dean Lombardi addressed it.

"It's the one area of the team that we felt could be targeted in terms of an upgrade, and that means as a group," Lombardi said during a conference call. "Whenever you look at you back end, it's a mix type thing. He's very mobile. Even though he's not big, he's certainly a smart player. I think with the seven [defensemen] that we have, this was a chance to upgrade this team."

The timing of the deal, however, is almost too convenient to not be a coincidence.

The Blackhawks turned a negative into a positive earlier Wednesday, placing potential league MVP Patrick Kane on long-term injured reserve, then announcing he would miss 12 weeks for surgery on a broken clavicle. The transaction leaves the Blackhawks without their best player until the conference finals but also frees about $6.3 million in cap space for a team that had almost ...

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