With Jonathan Quick set to possibly miss 3 – 4 months due to a groin injury, the Kings are for the time being expected to ride it out with internal options Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj manning the net. But the Kings are well within their window of Stanley Cup competition and with several of their key players – Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Alec Martinez – already or nearing 30, and the team may not want to let the season get away should the Zatkoff/Budaj combo struggle between the pipes. In that case L.A. could visit the trade market to look for a short-term solution.
The Kings have little in the way of cap space, according to Cap Friendly, with just around $1.5MM available. They could add $5.8MM if they place Quick on LTIR, should they choose. But with Quick under contract for six seasons beyond this one, it’s likely the club elects to stick with less expensive options or, at the very least, limit their search to goaltenders in the final year of their deals. Within these parameters, here are a few goaltenders who could be made available by their current team and who might prove to be of interest at some point to the Kings.
Ondrej Pavelec – He was waived by Winnipeg at the end of the regular season and after going unclaimed, was assigned to the Jets’ Manitoba AHL affiliate. Pavelec’s only above-average NHL season came during the 2014-15 campaign when he posted a Save % of 92.0% and allowed a GAA of 2.28. That’s the only season in the last five Pavelec has posted a Save % above 90.6% or a GAA lower than 2.78. He is in the final year of his contract and set to earn $2.95MM; a figure the Kings could find reasonable enough for a stop-gap solution. NHL reporter Brennan Klak agrees with the premise the Kings don’t want to commit much in the terms of money or term, and mentions Pavelec as a hypothetical option.
Ryan Miller – Miller is expensive, $6MM cap charge, but has a solid track record of success at the NHL level and like Pavelec, is in the final season of his deal. It’s possible, if the Kings can tread water in the interim, their interest increases as the trade deadline approaches and the team can better afford that cap hit. If the Canucks find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs, they could field offers for the veteran netminder. This would likely represent a worst-case scenario in that it assumes Quick wouldn’t be ready to return at the end of four months.
Thomas Greiss – Greiss had a good year with the Islanders in 2015-16 and when Jaroslav Halak went down with an injury late in the season, the German goalie guided New York into the second round of the playoffs. Greiss is in the final year of a deal that comes with a cap hit of just $1.5MM, and would represent a low-cost option on an expiring contract. The Islanders chose to keep three netminders on the roster to begin the season, likely out of fear that Jean-Francois Berube would have been claimed on waivers. It’s feasible they could take a reasonable offer for Greiss and commit to Berube and Halak for the rest of 2016-17.
Scott Wedgewood – The Kings could have had Wedgewood for just the cost of assuming the remaining season and $587.5K left on his contract but of course Quick was healthy when Wedgewood was available on waivers. It seems apparent the Devils still value Wedgewood’s potential but with Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid holding down the top two spots in New Jersey, it’s conceivable they could entertain offers for the 24-year-old goalie. Wedgewood has little NHL experience – four starts – but would represent a low-cost, low-risk flier for the Kings.