The Los Angeles Kings acquired veteran center Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday in a trade for center Jordan Weal and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said he needed flexibility to allow their bottom-six forwards to mature and a replacement for physical defenseman Matt Greene, who is out indefinitely after having shoulder surgery.
Lecavalier, 35, can step in right away in a classic case of a player in the twilight of his career taking on a lesser role to get another opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.
"There's nothing better than to be on a team that first of all, has been there," Lecavalier said. "I know the Kings have high expectations for the players, and I love that. It's just a great team to look at from the outside.
"From watching them a few weeks ago and how they play together, it's a team that's really dangerous and really good, and that's why they've been so successful the last three years. Just to be part of that, I'm really excited."
Lombardi said Lecavalier plans to retire at the end of the season. That would void the remaining two years of his five-year, $22.5 million contract, which made the trade possible for the Kings.
"At this stage of his career, it's all about getting one last chance to win it all," Lombardi said. "I think he's hungry. Given his mindset and the fit on this team, I think it's a great fit for his role.
"It's certainly worth a shot in seeing if this will work."
Lecavalier played in seven games for the Flyers this season, the last on Nov. 12. The No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, he won the Stanley Cup with them in 2004.
"Vinny had a no-move clause, so we had been talking to Vinny and Vinny's agent, and Vinny is excited," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "I think he sees it as a new opportunity to [go to] a top team, and he was excited."
Schenn, 26, is expected to help the Kings' depth on defense because their third pairings have been a mixed bag with Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Derek Forbort. Ehrhoff has been scratched seven times, and Forbort is in his first NHL season.
"We've lost a physical element there that I think is showing up," Lombardi said. "We see a lot of Matt Greene in Luke … it's a chance for him to come in here and be himself and not have the pressure of being the top guy."
Rookie defenseman Shane Gostisbehere has emerged for Philadelphia, allowing them to trade Schenn, whose brother Brayden Schenn is a Flyers forward.
"Luke understood where we were at as a franchise. He also understood that we had numbers, and he knew he was an [unrestricted free agent after this season] and I think he had a sense possibly something was coming," Hextall said. "It's somewhere that Brayden has been. He mentioned to me when I told him that he knew half a dozen players from L.A., so he was excited, and I think's going to be an absolute perfect for Luke. ... He is going to fit like a glove."
Lombardi said he expects defenseman Drew Doughty to take Schenn under his wing. The Kings picked Brayden in the 2009 NHL Draft.
"I couldn't be happier to go to a team like Los Angeles," Schenn said. "We just played them last week, and [in] talking to guys after the game … that was the hardest game we thought we've played. They play a real hard style of game. They have a lot of skill and size. They've having a good season so far, so just a lot of excitement, and I'm looking forward to coming in and help contribute."
Los Angeles has a healthy lead in the Pacific Division, but Lombardi said he wanted to make the trade to get Lecavalier and Schenn acclimated well before the Feb. 29 NHL Trade Deadline. They are expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Thursday before the Kings play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center.
"I think it's important we pull this as soon as possible, to get them into the fabric of this team," Lombardi said. "It allows them to get in here have a longer feeling-out process. And if it doesn't work, you're still in a position at the deadline to make an adjustment."
Weal, 23, has played 10 games in his first NHL season. He was considered somewhat undersized at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, especially for the Kings' typically heavy style.
"Jordan is at the point where he's been a top American Hockey League player and he's trying to prove himself as an NHL player," Hextall said. "He's a very dedicated player. He's got a high skill level. He's not the biggest guy, but he does work hard."