The Los Angeles Kings have often relied on Jonathan Quick to be their workhorse goaltender.
Since he became the team’s starter in 2009-10 he has played 61-or-more games in five seasons. In those years he has played in over 70 games twice. Only once has Quick missed major time with a health-related problem. But a recent injury to Quick has put LA’s goaltending plans into flux and could force an adjustment if the team swoons.
According to Sportsnet’s Darren Millard, if Quick – who was hurt in the first period of LA’s season opener – opts for groin surgery he could be out 3-4 months. This would be a devastating blow for LA, a team that puts a lot of faith in Quick to be the backbone of their defense.
Multiple media reports say that Quick is still seeking medical opinions on what to do in regards to his injury. The Kings are currently 0-2-0 and allowed six goals in two games. They face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
In the past, the Kings used their depth within their organization to absorb such issues.
In 2013-14, Quick missed 24 games with a Grade 2 groin strain, but Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens stepped up to deliver for the team, combining to go 19-11-4. Jones, who is now the starting goaltender for the San Jose Sharks, held a .934 save percentage and 1.81 goal-against average. Scrivens held a .931 save percentage and 1.97 goal-against average.
Los Angeles had Jonathan Bernier, a former first-round pick, as a backup until he was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 offseason. This provided the team, and Quick with another safety blanket.
This season the Kings don’t seem to have that type of depth to keep the team afloat without Quick.
Jeff Zatkoff is 29 years old and was signed to be Quick’s backup during the offseason. He has played 37 total games in his NHL career and so far with the Kings in two games in 2016-17 he has a 3.09 goal-against average and .891 save percentage. Peter Budaj, who is was called up to back up Zatkoff, had an excellent AHL season last year with 1.75 goal-against average and .932 save percentage with the Ontario Reign. But he has played just one NHL game in the last two years.
Patrik Bartosak was supposed to be the next Jones, Bernier type for LA, but he was suspended after he was charged with domestic violence last season. He’s no longer with the organization.
LA could look outside the organization – especially if Quick is out the 3-4 month window. But this also comes with risk, especially for the Kings.
In the recent past the team has mortgaged their future to keep the group within their Stanley Cup window of opportunity. A trade for a veteran goaltender could keep Los Angeles afloat until Quick returns but it would also damage the path set forth by general manager Dean Lombardi last summer of getting back to building through the draft like they did during their championship years. Plus there aren’t a lot of options on the market, and LA’s tight salary cap situation doesn’t give them a lot of wiggle room.
Also, there’s a thought that Quick’s body of work doesn’t match his reputation, which means the Kings could end up being OK without him. Last season Quick held a .9290 5-on-5 save percentage, which ranked 12th out of 23 goaltenders who had played at least 2,000 minutes at that strength. Backup Jhonas Enroth held a .9377 5-on-5 save percentage.
Regardless, he’s a starting goaltender in his prime who has won two Stanley Cups. Last season the NHL’s general managers voted Quick a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
Losing a player with that type of resume is tough to withstand for any organization. No matter how the Kings proceed their options likely won’t match Quick in goal.
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