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It’s a ‘long shot’ Willie Mitchell will play this year

Mar 29, 2013, 3:22 PM EDT

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings could have a key defenseman back in the lineup by the end of the regular season.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear another key defenseman will be able to return for the playoffs.

The d-man that could be back is Matt Greene (back).

“I’d say he skated 15 minutes yesterday and I’d say the projection is a month,” general manager Dean Lombardi said today, per LA Kings Insider.

The other one is Willie Mitchell (knee).

“I’d say it’s a very long shot,” said Lombardi. “There’s always ‘maybe’, but I think we’re convinced now he’s not going to play this year. Now, if he comes back, then it’s clearly a bonus.”

Mitchell, 35, was a vital part of last year’s Stanley Cup championship run. In fact, only Drew Doughty played more than the veteran defensive defenseman.

For Lombardi, it begs the question of whether he needs to go out and acquire a blueliner — perhaps by offering backup goalie Jonathan Bernier — prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline.

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