When the Los Angeles Kings lost not just Jonathan Quick but Jeff Zatkoff as well in the span of a few days, panic immediately set in for a franchise known for its excellent goaltending over the years. Even with Peter Budaj, an experienced NHL netminder coming in to start, the team was looking everywhere to find some help in net. That might have come to an end, says Pierre LeBrun in his latest column, as Budaj has performed extremely well and Zatkoff is back from injury. The team has stopped looking for help and is at least somewhat comfortable with the Budaj/Zatkoff tandem for now.
Budaj, the AHL goalie of the year in 2015-16, has posted a .912 save percentage and 2.06 GAA in ten games, including a shutout of the Calgary Flames on Saturday. The former Colorado and Montreal netminder has a ton of NHL experience over the years, and at 34 is still playing well enough to help the Kings. Zatkoff will likely figure in a bit more as the season stretches on, though he does have much less experience.
- Even though Jacob Trouba has signed on for two years and said that he’s ’committed’ to the Winnipeg Jets, doesn’t sway LeBrun from thinking he’ll eventually be dealt. Though head coach Paul Maurice has said he’ll use Trouba in a variety of situations in order to keep him involved, the conviction that led to his holdout can’t possibly have all dissipated at this point. Trouba still wants to be a top pairing blueliner on the right side, something that simply won’t happen in Winnipeg, at least not right now.
- It’s an open competition in Colorado now, as the net will be shared between Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard. Though Varlamov came into the season as the clear No. 1, the younger Pickard has played extremely well and forced himself into the conversation. A .946 save percentage even if it is just a few games. With the Avalanche going after a playoff spot this year, they can’t afford to wait for Varlamov’s game to come around.
- When you turn your calendar over to February in a few months, make sure you make a note to watch for Martin Hanzal rumors. LeBrun feels as though the Coyotes center – who’s injured at the moment – is an easy pick for a deadline deal. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, he’s always had the talent to change a game. Health has always been a factor for Hanzal though, who just can’t seem to stick in a lineup for a full year. LeBrun believes that the Coyotes would need a young player, and not just picks, in return.