With Drew Doughty out for at least the next eight weeks due to a knee contusion and Sean Walker out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL and MCL, the defensive depth for the Kings has certainly taken a hit, particularly on the right side. To that end, Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports in the latest TSN Insider Trading segment (video link) that Los Angeles is looking to add a depth right-shot defender at a minimum.
It’s certainly understandable as their depth chart of healthy right-shot blueliners on the active roster is down to Matt Roy and Austin Strand; Strand cleared waivers earlier this month and was just recalled on Wednesday. A depth piece could allow them to send Strand back to the minors at a minimum but a top-four addition would take some pressure of Roy, who logged more than 28 minutes last game out of necessity. For context, his career average is about 10 minutes a night below that mark.
A complicating factor in this situation is the salary cap. The Kings are basically up against the cap ceiling right now due to their recent recalls and while Doughty is eligible to go on LTIR, the fact he’s coming back this season eliminates the possibility of them spending big to replace him as they’ll need to be cap-compliant to activate him when the time comes.
That leaves Walker and his $2.65MM price tag for GM Rob Blake to try to work with to find a replacement. Unfortunately for him and the Kings, there aren’t a lot of top-four defenders making that type of money and even fewer that are readily available. Accordingly, looking for a depth option or two is a much more realistic target for Los Angeles. The trade market is often quiet at this time of year but don’t be too surprised to see the Kings add a piece before too long, especially since this is a season where they’re hoping to get back into the playoff picture.