Just two days after trading forward Andrei Loktionov to the New Jersey Devils for a 5th round pick, the Los Angeles Kings have turned around and flipped that pick like a renovated single-unit house, sending it to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenceman Keaton Ellerby.
Fifth-rounders are the new third-rounders, apparently.
The 6'4", 190-lbs. Ellerby (whose first name, I can only assume, was given in homage to Family Ties) has been with the Florida Panthers since being drafted 10th overall in 2007. In that time, he's played 117 NHL games, with 2 goals and 15 assists.
Ellerby's been averaging just over fifteen minutes a night in Florida this season, but he might see more time in Los Angeles. He'll be given every opportunity to succeed with the Kings, and given their issues on the blueline, it would probably be quite helpful if he did.
Injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell (not to mention mediocre play from Jake Muzzin and Davis Drewiske) have shown the Kings to have some major holes on their defense. Greene was reported as being out for the season in mid-January, but according to GM Dean Lombardi, the Kings are preparing as though Mitchell, who had knee surgery during the lockout, might not be back either.
Lombardi said that Mitchell pushed too hard during his rehabilitation and suffered a setback. On Friday, he told Lisa Dillman of the LA Times the Kings weren't holding out hope to get Mitchell back. "Right now," he said, "We have to operate on the premise Willie and Greener are done for the year. If he comes back it's a tremendous bonus. If not, we can't continue to rely on that. We've got to get in that mindset."
It will be a lot easier for the Kings to get into this mindset if Ellerby can help fill the gap.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney