Veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr dropped his no-trade clause to allow the Buffalo Sabres to deal him to the Los Angeles Kings, where he’ll be reunited with his former coach, Darryl Sutter.
The trade was announced by both teams on Monday night, with the Kings saying the deal is contingent on Regehr passing a medical exam. In exchange, the Sabres acquired the Kings’ second-round picks in 2014 and 2015.
The move was completed with the NHL trading deadline approaching on Wednesday afternoon.
The 13-year NHL veteran will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has two assists in 29 games this season, but Los Angeles covets Regehr’s physical defensive play while defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell remain out with long-term injuries.
Regehr spent the past two seasons with Buffalo after 11 seasons with Calgary, where he played for Sutter.
The underachieving Sabres (13-17-6), who are 13th in the Eastern Conference, are retooling for the future. Regehr becomes the third defenseman traded by the defense-rich team in three weeks.
On Saturday, Buffalo dealt veteran Jordan Leopold to St. Louis in exchange for a second- and conditional fifth-round picks in this year’s draft. On March 15, they acquired a 2013 fifth-round pick for sending rookie T.J. Brennan to Florida.
The bruising, playoff-tested Regehr should fill one of the few remaining needs for the surging Kings, who have earned seven points in the first four games of their five-game road trip after beating Dallas on Sunday. Los Angeles (20-12-3) began Monday in fifth place in the West, and plays at Phoenix on Tuesday.
Greene injured his back in the Kings’ season opener, and the veteran isn’t likely to return before the postseason. Mitchell likely won’t play for Los Angeles this season after undergoing knee surgery.
Rob Scuderi has logged heavy minutes on the Kings’ penalty kill in his veteran teammates’ absence, and Regehr should provide steady physical play alongside him.
Beyond rising star Slava Voynov, the rest of the Kings’ defensemen have been inconsistent this season, including Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, newcomer Keaton Ellerby and youngster Jake Muzzin.
Regehr isn’t a prolific scorer, topping 20 points just three times in his career, but the Kings know about his toughness firsthand: Regehr ended Los Angeles forward Justin Williams’ season in March 2011, separating his right shoulder with a hard, clean hit along the boards.
In Buffalo, he was also regarded as a veteran leader on a young, patchwork team.
Regehr was held out of practice in Buffalo on Monday, before the Sabres traveled to Pittsburgh, where they’ll play on Tuesday night. Interim head coach Ron Rolston said Regehr was given a ”maintenance day” to rest, but also hinted the Sabres might be trading a defenseman.
When asked if the Sabres intend to carry six defensemen on their roster, Rolston said: ”We’ve got six. That’s the plan as of right now.”
Regehr did speak to reporters in the locker room after practice and acknowledged the possibility he could be dealt, calling it ”part and parcel” of the job.
He showed no disappointment in his playoff-free two seasons with the Sabres after waiving his no-trade clause to join the high-priced disappointments.
The Sabres were so intent on getting Regehr two years ago that owner Terry Pegula, his wife, Kim, and former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff left the draft in Minnesota to meet with Regehr at his cabin in northern Saskatchewan.
”It’s the way it’s gone, unfortunately,” Regehr said. ”It’s the situation we’re in. So we’ll see what happens.”
The Sabres have ample defensive depth in their system. The group includes Adam Pardy, acquired in a trade with Dallas last summer, and Brayden McNabb, who spent part of last season in Buffalo. McNabb won’t be available to the Sabres this year, instead missing the rest of the season after hurting his knee last week.
The team’s also high on rookie Mark Pysyk, who has been steady in six games since making his NHL debut after being called up from the minors two weeks ago.
Buffalo isn’t thought to be done dealing before Wednesday, with general manager Darcy Regier saying no player is untouchable. Underperforming forward Drew Stafford is thought to be on the market, while captain Jason Pominville has also been mentioned.
The Sabres called up center Luke Adam from their AHL affiliate in Rochester to fill the open roster spot.
The Kings announced they’ve placed forward Dustin Penner (lower body) on injured reserve, retroactive to March 31.