Robyn Regehr excited to join Kings

Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 7:09 PM
Curtis Zupke  - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Robyn Regehr doesn't have much connection to the Los Angeles Kings, other than having played for coach Darryl Sutter with the Calgary Flames.

He roomed with Drew Doughty at a Canada camp one year. He knows Jarret Stoll a little bit from the Saskatchewan area. Anything else? Well ...

"I remember I separated Justin Williams' shoulder in the corner one game [last March], so maybe he's not quite happy with me," Regehr said jokingly. "So we'll try to work it out. Water under the bridge."

The Kings would like this to be the beginning of an extended partnership with Regehr, 32, who was acquired Monday from the Buffalo Sabres for second-round draft picks in 2014 and 2015.

He is precisely the big-bodied defenseman Los Angeles needs with Matt Greene recovering from back surgery and Willie Mitchell's future in doubt after general manager Dean Lombardi raised the possibility Wednesday that Mitchell also could miss next season because of ongoing issues with his knee.

Regehr's relationship with the no-nonsense Sutter, who likes his puck movers physical and rugged, is a starting point and a big reason why this seems like the ideal fit.

"Darryl is a very demanding coach," Regehr said. "I think any player that plays under him, that's one of the first things that he would mention. But, that being said, when you do the kind of stuff that he asks of you, and you do it well, you put yourself in a position to succeed and also become a very good professional. I was excited to be back and have that opportunity. I know the type of style -- a very similar style -- of what he asked us to play in Calgary. I should be able to brush the rust off a little bit. It's been a few years and get out there and do it and do it well."

The 6-foot-3, 224-pound blueliner is essentially a Greene clone, although he might be even more of a physical element. He clears the front of the net and kills penalties. He also knows the Western Conference style of play.

"Experience, good guy in the back, fills our left side," Sutter said. "He's played a long time and he's a pretty strong identity. That's pretty clear."

Sutter wouldn't say how he would put together his defensive pairings. He has played Doughty with Jake Muzzin and Rob Scuderi with Slava Voynov for most of this season and might not want to disrupt that chemistry. Regehr could presumably be slotted into the third pairing and, given he's left-handed shot, would take the place of either Alec Martinez or Keaton Ellerby.

Regehr has 12 regular-season games to get acquainted with his new team, although that's sometimes easier for a stay-at-home type of defenseman.

"Clearly, that element he brings is something that we needed to add to the mix," Lombardi said. "I think you put Greener back in this lineup -- now you have that mix of puck moving and hard to play against. He's a great fit from that. Hopefully I think there's a good chance that we can retain him. I think we have a lot going for us. So this wasn't looked at as a player for a rental. We're looking at this as a guy that can fit here for a number of years here."

Lombardi acknowledged it will be complicated to keep Regehr, who is on an expiring $4 million contract, without other pieces going out the door. The salary cap will go down to $64.3 million next season.

Voynov is set to become a restricted free agent and is due a raise, and Scuderi will be an unrestricted free agent. Martinez, Ellerby and Muzzin are restricted free agents come July. Los Angeles already has more than $13 million committed to Doughty, Mitchell and Greene next season.

"We've got more physics projects going on the board than MIT in terms of trying to figure out how to make sure we keep our own," Lombardi said.

"Of the players I looked at in making this deal, I spent way more time evaluating our cap and keeping this group together, than I actually did evaluating the player, and that's not taking anything away from the work on the player.

"But we knew we were going to get to this point someday. We've said it time and time again, build slowly with young players and the thought of keeping them together. This CBA really hurt in terms of us having to adjust, because we certainly didn't plan a dramatic decrease. Like I said, we have $6 million in space -- we brought this team back -- we can't use."

Regehr said all he's thinking about right now is getting up to speed with the team.

"As for all that other stuff about the future, I think it depends on a lot of things," he said. "It depends on how things go for me personally. It depends on how things go for the team, and probably the most important is other factors such as next year we all know the cap is going down."

Regehr otherwise looked forward to the cross-country move, particularly going from Buffalo to the defending Stanley Cup champions getting ready for another Stanley Cup Playoffs run. He will make his debut Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at Staples Center.

"Really, really happy for a few different reasons," Regehr said. "Being in a position to win again, with a team that has proven that it can do it in the past and wants to do it again. So I'm very excited about that."

Greene started skating this week and could return at the end of this month. Lombardi confirmed that Mitchell is out for this season and said some preliminary signs give him concern about the veteran who has had two surgeries on his knee since December, both to clean up debris.

"Now I'm getting some information and I don't like speaking to it because I don't have it all, but I guess it's safe to say there would be a legitimate concern whether he plays next year," Lombardi said. "But that could be premature. Let's just say now, though, it's possible, where I wouldn't have thought it possible."

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