The Los Angeles Kings have added another interesting goaltending prospect to the organization, signing Matthew Villalta to a three-year entry-level contract. Villalta is currently playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL’s Western Conference Final.
Villalta, 18, was selected in the third round in last June’s draft and led the OHL in wins this season with 40. Though his other numbers took a slight step backwards, ending with a .908 save percentage and 2.58 GAA, he’s still expected to grow into a formidable goaltending prospect in the coming years. Originally listed at 165 lbs, the Kings now have Villalta all the way up to 181 in their press release and there could be even more size coming as the 6’2″ goaltender continues to mature physically.
The Kings have placed a huge emphasis on their goaltending pipeline in the recent years, acquiring Jack Campbell from the Dallas Stars organization, signing Cal Petersen after he failed to reach an agreement with the Buffalo Sabres, and inking Cole Kehler earlier this season out of the WHL. Though there is no doubt that Jonathan Quick is the starter for the foreseeable future, he’ll turn 33 next season and can’t be relied on forever.
Villalta will almost certainly return to the OHL next season where he and the Greyhounds should still be among the best teams in the league. If they aren’t able to secure a Memorial Cup berth this season, there’s no reason to believe they can’t next year.