12:45pm: Lombardi is now telling Elliott that he misspoke today and though the worst case is still March, he actually expects Quick back in mid-February. While this lines up closer to what Sutter said on Monday, it still is a long-time for Quick to be sidelined.
11:45pm: The continuing saga of Jonathan Quick got another chapter today, as Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi told Helene Elliott of the LA Times that he’d be out until March. This comes after head coach Darryl Sutter said just two days ago that it’d be a month before the next step was even revealed.
Lombardi also told Elliott that he’s “not willing to throw the kitchen sink” at his goaltending situation, meaning that he doesn’t want to part with important assets to fix it. The team has been riding Peter Budaj this season to mixed success, as the 34-year old started hot but has struggled recently. Last night Budaj allowed four goals on 22 shots, marking four out of five games where he’s recorded a save percentage under .900. Jeff Zatkoff, brought in this offseason to be the backup, has struggled with injury and ineffectiveness himself, carrying an .882 save percentage through Wednesday.
The Kings, 14-12-2, are sitting fifth in the Pacific Division just outside a wild card spot but are in danger of slipping further and further should they not fix their goaltending situation. If Budaj can get back to the level he started the season at, perhaps the team would not need to find a solution outside the organization.
While there are talented options on the trade market – namely, Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard – the Kings would have to take on a large amount of salary or give up substantial assets to get them. Though the team has a good amount of cap space currently due to Quick’s designation on LTIR, the team would be left unable to make any additional moves at the deadline for a playoff run, or in trouble should Quick make a return any earlier than expected.
A lesser option – like Ondrej Pavelec or Jonathan Bernier – comes with substantial risks as well and may not be any more effective than the Budaj-Zatkoff duo in the long run. For the Kings, it’s likely a game of trying to improve the team in front of them than spending assets for an answer in net.