5 Defensemen the Los Angeles Kings Should Target to Replace Matt Greene
Defense wins championships. In Los Angeles defense did win a Stanley Cup.
That defense of Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi was retained from the 2012 championship squad for 2013. However, they are now bruised, beaten and beleaguered in the early stages of the shortened season.
Mitchell is still out nursing an offseason knee injury, Matt Greene is likely out for the year with two herniated discs in his back, and if things like this continue to happen to Scuderi he might be out soon as well.
Davis Drewiske and Jake Muzzin have been serviceable as replacements, and young Andrew Campbell was just recalled from the Monarchs. However, should the Los Angeles Kings start looking at free agents and trades to fill the need of a proven veteran defensive presence for third pairing Matt Greene?
Here's a few players they could potentially pursue if they do.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold has a similar role to that of Matt Greene of the Kings.
He's a minus-seven through 10 games this season and has been averaging about 21 minutes a night. He's not quite as physical as Greene, but he plays a more reserved, calm and responsible style of hockey. While his numbers don't look spectacular thus far, Leopold could play valuable minutes for a depleted Kings blue line.
The other plus to Leopold is that he is on the final year of his contract and is making a somewhat reasonable salary of $3 million dollars per year.
One of the names floating around on the free agent market is 28-year-old Chris Campoli.
When he last suited up for the Canadiens last season, he was playing anywhere between 16 and 22 minutes a night and was making just $1.75 million a season. A one-year deal might be beneficial to both parties: The Kings could use him as an immediate fix to their problems, and Campoli might be able to play himself back into relevance in the NHL.
This one would be a bit more of a long-term fix, whereas the previous two options were quick, cheap and painless.
Hjalmarsson is only 25 and has been playing around 20 to 25 minutes a night for the Chicago Blackhawks. His name has been tossed around in trade rumors for what seems like his entire career. He is a career plus player in terms of plus-minus rating, and he is one of the better shot blockers in the league.
The only problem with Hjalmarsson is his $3.5 million dollar-per-year contract which still has another year on it after this one. The Kings need to give raises to Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov this coming offseason, and taking on Hjalmarsson's salary could handcuff them in re-signing their young defensemen.
Also, going after Hjalmarsson in a trade would likely cost a decent roster player from the Kings. Jonathan Bernier would have been a solid option to lure Chicago into a deal, but Corey Crawford has proven he can play well under the workload thus far this season.
Another short term quick-fix option would be rough and tumble veteran Jim Vandermeer.
The 32-year-old has made his rounds in the NHL as a physical bottom-pairing defenseman. He is currently playing in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves after signing a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks.
Vandermeer is only a career minus-nine, and he has always brought a physical edge to his game, along with the ability to eat up between 15 and 20 minutes a night.
His contract with the Canucks currently has a cap hit of just $600K.
Mike Weber has been the Davis Drewiske of Buffalo for the last four years, and perhaps it's time for a change of scenery for the 25-year-old.
Buffalo currently has a few more options in their system defensively, and a guy like Weber has slipped through the cracks. He's played decent when called upon, is an upcoming restricted free agent and could be a reasonable acquisition for the Kings. He plays physically, responsibly and eats about 20 minutes of ice time a night for the Sabres.
Prying him away from the Sabres might not take much, considering young prospects such as Brayden McNabb, T.J. Brennan and Mark Pysyk look to be coming to the back line for Buffalo soon.