By Pierre LeBrun, Eric Stephens and Charlie O’Connor
The Los Angeles Kings have acquired center Zack MacEwen from the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Brendan Lemieux and a 2024 fifth-round draft pick, a league source said. The Athletic. Here’s what you need to know:
- MacEwen has four goals and five assists through 46 games played this season.
- Lemieux has three assists through 27 games played this season.
- The Kings are 35-20-8, and sit in second place in the Pacific Division. The Flyers (23-28-11) are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Athletichis instant analysis:
Why the Kings made the deal
This little move by the Kings seems to be more about figuring out a little more cap room to position themselves for another trade before the deadline. Lemieux, who missed time with a lower-body injury, had been passed over as a lineup option by Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Carl Grundstrom’s return from injury as another part-timer for coach Todd McLellan essentially sealed his fate.
While more of a player-for-player “hockey trade” on the surface, trading Lemieux’s $1.35 million cap hit for MacEwen’s $925,000 gives general manager Rob Blake another $425,000 to work with. Blake’s ability to move Jonathan Quick and his $5.8 million cap number without salary retention created a cushion he didn’t have all season as he added Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo still at $1.7 million plus. MacEwen will be depth and perhaps nothing more. Or maybe a serviceable bigger body if he is needed. — Stephens
Are the Kings done making moves?
Not necessarily. Another area Blake could further strengthen the club is by adding another proven bottom-six centre. Blake Lizotte has done an admirable job centering the third line as Quinton Byfield was moved to the wing on Anze Kopitar’s line. Rasmus Kupari has emerged as an effective penalty killer, but the 22-year-old has had mixed results in five-on-five games in the 4C role. Blake could look to upgrade there and push Lizotte back to the fourth line, where he is often fantastic.
After trading Quick, Blake said he targeted depth in different areas as other potential moves. “But again, it has to fit right and it has to allow us to get better,” he said.
Being 11 points ahead of ninth-place Calgary in the Western Conference allows him to look to further strengthen his club for the playoffs instead of just pushing to get in. — Stephens
MacEwen’s time with the Flyers is coming to an end
The Flyers have announced they are open for business, and that means selling any pieces that aren’t viewed as “part of the future” of assets. MacEwen, while only 26 years old, wasn’t viewed as a future piece — more of a depth forward at best. So he goes out, for a package centered on a fifth-round pick. MacEwen has been out for over a month with a broken jaw suffered in a fight with Marcus Foligno, but he has been training with the club for about a week and was officially removed from IR on Friday morning. Just hours later, he leaves Philadelphia for Los Angeles. — O’Connor
Lemieux’s future in Philadelphia
And then there is the player in Lemieux, who will slide right into MacEwen’s vacant spot on the depth chart. Given his physicality, he certainly fits John Tortorella’s “tough to play against” mandate and will likely get a long look over the final 20 games of the Flyers’ season. But as a pending UFA, the Flyers are not committed to him beyond that. The fifth-round pick is the key to this deal, and Lemieux is more of a “why not give him a shot?” type of addition. — O’Connor
MacEwen was picked up by the Flyers off waivers in 2021 after three seasons with Vancouver. He has accumulated 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) through 176 career games.
Lemieux joined the Kings in 2021 via trade from the Rangers, where he spent two-plus seasons after starting his NHL career with the Jets. He has 63 points (31 goals, 32 assists) in 257 career games played.
The trade deadline is Friday at 3:00 PM ET: Stay tuned here for live updates.
(Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)