The best addition the Kings could make to their roster this season might be the return of one of their own. Veteran stay-at-home defenseman Matt Greene, who underwent surgery for a herniated disc in late January, is now projected to be ready by the playoffs.
At the time of the surgery, recovery was expected to take eight weeks minimum. We're now past the ninth week, and the Los Angeles Times reports Greene has begun skating again. The new timetable has Greene possibly returning in late April.
The 2013 regular season ends on Saturday, April 27th, and playoffs begin Tuesday, April 30th.
The Kings have been forced to cope with the loss of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell all season, adding rookie Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby to an already youthful defense (Doughty and Voynov are both 23, Alec Martinez 25). While there was no update on the status of Mitchell -- who is dealing with knee problems after offseason surgery -- the team's playoff chances could only improve if Greene is ready. Though the re-worked defense pairings have done a good job moving the puck out of the zone and keeping shots against low, the team has missed its top two penalty killers. The assistant captain also brings a physical element back into the mix, and is often praised for being a calming influence on the locker room.
Do the Kings still need a rental defenseman?
The Kings were rumored be interested in adding a veteran stay-at-home defenseman like Robyn Regehr. However, the team's winning record has allowed Dean Lombardi to stand pat.
Given that Douglas Murray, a defender who was dragging his partners down this season, fetched a 2nd round pick plus another 2nd or 3rd, the prices for rental players will probably be outrageous. Many teams are looking to add a top four defenseman, and few are looking to sell. The asking price for Regehr could rival what Iginla returned. (The Sabres are also supposed to be interested in Tyler Toffoli, but I can't take that seriously -- Lombardi has always said he won't ship top prospects out for a rental, and he never has.)
Then there's the question of whether any of the available defensemen would even be an improvement. Regehr's stats have declined this season--in fact, every Sabre has performed better without him--and he seems to have lost a step since his days in Calgary. Another name that often crops up, pending free agent Jordan Leopold, looks like a lateral move at best.
Now that Matt Greene might be ready for the playoffs, will the Kings feel less urgency to add a defenseman at the deadline? Or would they still like to add an insurance player in case Greene isn't 100%?
On the one hand, it would seem to lessen the urgency. But the Kings see themselves as strong contenders and are probably exploring all options.
We'll keep an eye on this as April 3rd approaches. Let us know what you think the Kings should do at the deadline -- make a move or stand pat?