The trade, contingent on Sturm passing a physical, was announced about 30 minutes before the Bruins faced the Philadelphia Flyers. The news release said Boston would receive "future considerations," but general manager Peter Chiarelli met with reporters and said: "Really, it's nothing."
"Keep in mind the value of cap space," Chiarelli said. "That's what you have to keep in perspective. I'm not trying to justify trading for nothing. Of course we like to get return for our player."
The NHL's leading German-born scorer with 234 goals and 232 assists, Sturm has spent the last six of his 14 seasons with the Bruins after coming to Boston in the trade that sent eventual Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks. Sturm scored 29 goals with 30 assists in Boston and L.A. that year, his best NHL season so far.
But Sturm has been on the injured list all season recovering from surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee that he tore during last season's playoffs. Chiarelli said Sturm would be ready to play in a week or so.
"Usually, when you say a physical, it's a formality. But this one is real," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said of the final step before the deal is approved. "It's why there's an extended time period on this one. There's a significant hurdle here. You've got to look at everything, like an MRI and a strength test, and everything else.
"He's got to be put through the rigors. So he's flying in here [Sunday]."
The Bruins are over the NHL's salary cap and would have had to cut elsewhere to activate Sturm. By trading him now, they are able to keep intact a team that entered the night trailing Montreal by three points in the Northeast Division, with two fewer games played than the Canadiens.
"We've cleared out our cap space," Chiarelli said. "We're cap compliant. We've got a little room."
Sturm scored the winning goal in Game 6 of a 2008 playoff series against Montreal as Boston, which had trailed the Canadiens 3-1, rallied to force a decisive seventh game. He also scored in overtime of last year's Winter Classic at Fenway Park against the Flyers.
The Kings are approximately $6 million under the salary cap -- more than enough to absorb the rest of Sturm's $3.5 million salary this season. Chiarelli said he could have held onto Sturm longer, but the team saves more cap money this way and that made the deal more attractive.
"They got him for cheap, and they wanted to do it now. There's a lot of considerations," Chiarelli said. "In fairness to Marco, it allows him to begin his journey -- so to speak -- in another place."
After making the playoffs last spring for the first time since 2002, the Kings spent much of the summer pursuing a scorer but largely came up empty. Los Angeles courted Ilya Kovalchuk for several weeks before the Russian star signed a 15-year, $100 million deal with the New Jersey Devils.
Los Angeles had no scorers in the NHL's top 30 entering Saturday night's games. Leading scorer Anze Kopitar has managed just 25 points in 26 games.