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Kings make Greene buyout official, trade action heats up in advance of NHL draft

Kings defenseman Matt Greene, left, trips up Carolina’s Joakim Nordstrom at Staples Center on Dec. 8. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

On a day filled with surprising trades around the NHL, the Kings made a move on Friday that was expected, officially announcing they had bought out the contract of defenseman Matt Greene. They had taken the first step toward that move when they put him on waivers 10 days ago.

Greene, a rugged defender and locker-room leader, had one year at $2.5 million left on his contract. The Kings will carry a salary cap hit of $833,333 for each of the next two seasons.

Injuries have plagued the Grand Ledge, Mich., native in recent years and limited him to 26 games last season. He ranks ninth among Kings defensemen in regular-season games played, at 464, and he also played in 61 playoff games. His physicality and penalty-killing skills made him a valuable member of the Kings’ 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championship teams. He was an alternate captain for eight seasons.

“Matt has made incredible contributions to our hockey club and we are very grateful for everything he has done since joining our organization, including his outstanding leadership,” Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president, said in a statement. “Upon his arrival to Los Angeles he played a significant role in helping change the culture of the Kings and his contributions to our two Stanley Cups in particular is immeasurable.”

Trade action intensified around the league Friday morning in advance of the annual draft, which will be held in Chicago. The Chicago Blackhawks, reshaping their team after two sub-par seasons that followed their 2015 Cup championship, traded three-time Cup-winning defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin, and sent forwards Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte and a sixth-round draft pick to Columbus for forward Brandon Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick. Saad was a member of the Blackhawks’ 2013 and 2015 Cup teams but was traded to Columbus in a salary cap-related deal.

The Coyotes, who on Thursday parted ways with longtime coach Dave Tippett and told veteran Shane Doan they would not offer him a contract for 2017-18, acquired center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick in Friday’s draft.

The first round of the draft will be televised starting at 4 p.m. Friday on NBCSN. Rounds 2 through 7 will be conducted on Saturday and will be aired on the NHL Network.