The run on defensemen changing addresses ahead of the NHL trade deadline started Tuesday, and the Golden Knights made sure not to miss out.
The team has a trade in place for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, and a source confirmed the deal was expected to become official Wednesday, at the earliest.
The cost to acquire Martinez will be two second-round picks, according to a report from TSN in Canada. The Knights have two second-round picks in the 2020 draft and three in the 2021 draft.
If this deal gets done, I would expect the likely return to be two second-round picks. Martinez, BTW, has one year left on his contract beyond this season.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 18, 2020
A Knights team spokesperson declined comment Tuesday.
Martinez, 32, was held out of Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets for precautionary reasons.
“We’re concentrating on the group we have here and getting ready for the next game,” Knights coach Pete DeBoer said after the team’s off-ice workout Tuesday before any news leaked of a likely trade for Martinez.
“I’ve been included in some of the discussions leading up to (the trade deadline), but for me, this isn’t about what we need or what (the front office is) going to do. We have a real good group here that I’m happy to coach, and if we can add to that, then great. If we can’t, then I’m comfortable going in with what we have.”
The Knights are 7-3-2 under DeBoer to climb back into playoff position in the wide-open Pacific Division and are on pace for 94 points. They go for their fourth straight win Thursday against Tampa Bay, winners of 11 in a row, at T-Mobile Arena.
The pending addition of Martinez ahead of Monday’s trade deadline will boost the Knights’ blue line and provide valuable experience in the locker room.
Martinez is a steady presence with two Stanley Cups to his credit during 10 seasons with the Kings. He has one goal and eight points in 41 games and is under contract through the 2020-21 season with a $4 million cap hit.
It is unclear whether Los Angeles would retain any of his salary in the deal.
The Knights scouted Martinez heavily in recent weeks, and director of hockey legal affairs Andrew Lugerner was on the list of team representatives in attendance at a Kings game in New York last week. Martinez is not eligible to sign a contract extension until July 1.
The Knights have three defensemen — Deryk Engelland, Nick Holden and Jon Merrill — set to become unrestricted free agents.
Martinez is a left shot but played both sides on defense with the Kings, which gives DeBoer the flexibility to juggle his top-four defensemen if he chooses.
Rookie Zach Whitecloud was sent down to the American Hockey League on Tuesday, leaving Engelland as the lone right shot defenseman. Engelland has been a healthy scratch in seven of the past eight games.
“I think when you look at our roster, we’re definitely in a win-now mode,” defenseman Shea Theodore said Tuesday. “We have the guys to do it. It seems like the past couple deadlines they’ve always tried making a splash to enhance that. Our job is just to focus on ourselves, and they’ll take care of everything else.”
The Knights are projected to have almost $4 million in trade deadline salary cap space as of Tuesday, according to CapFriendly.com.
They had been linked with San Jose’s physical defenseman Brenden Dillon, who went to Washington on Tuesday for a 2020 second-round pick and conditional 2021 third-round pick.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 18, 2020
The Knights reportedly also had interest in New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen, who remains on injured reserve.
Along with the Dillon deal, two other trades for defensemen Tuesday helped drive up Los Angeles’ asking price for Martinez.
Marco Scandella went from Montreal to St. Louis for a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2021. Also, Ottawa landed a third-round pick from Winnipeg for Dylan DeMelo.
Unlike Martinez, Dillon, Scandella and DeMelo are set to become unrestricted free agents.
“We know what kind of team we’ve got,” forward William Carrier said. “We’re trying to contend. We’re trying to make the playoffs and trying to get on a run. We can’t do anything as a player. All we’re trying to do is show up night after night. We didn’t that all year, but we’ve been pretty good the last couple months.”
Alec Martinez file
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, Mich.
2019-20 stats: one goal, seven assists in 41 games