February 26, 2018 | 10:27pm ET



Gabriel Vilardi, centre


The Los Angeles Kings had scoured the NHL looking for a top-line winger, but GM Rob Blake was never truly in the rental market and he didn’t want to pony up for some of the players that were available.

The Kings had been linked to the likes of Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty and New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello, but talks never truly materialized.

Multiple sources confirmed to TFP the Kings and Canadiens had an ongoing discussion about Pacioretty since at least January, and the Kings made it clear to them, at the time, they were not interested in trading 2017 first-round pick Gabriel Vilardi.

On Saturday, during Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” segment, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported the Canadiens had interest in Vilardi and “perhaps he might be the piece that gets the deal done.”

Kypreos noted the Kings were “pushing hard for Pacioretty” and also mentioned one of Kings forwards Tanner Pearson or Tyler Toffoli could be involved, with a first-round draft pick.

TFP Sr. Writer Dennis Bernstein, who is based in Los Angeles, followed up that report by reiterating the Kings were not interested in parting with Vilardi, which has since been reconfirmed by a source close to the L.A. organization, and the team was very reluctant to move its first-round draft pick this year.

It’s clear why talks between the Kings and Canadiens failed to materialize, though it’s possible the two sides reexamine the possibility in the off-season.