The Los Angeles Kings made a major move to clear up some cap space on Tuesday, shipping out defenseman Sean Walker and netminder Calvin Petersen to Philadelphia. However, they immediately used nearly all their savings to sign defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year extension.
That’s not to say they don’t have any cap space left to play with, and they need to address their biggest inconsistency from the 2022-23 campaign: goaltending. However, according to sources cited by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, there appears to be little ongoing dialogue between the Kings and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who is poised to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after coming over with Gavrikov near the trade deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As the Kings set their sights on returning to perennial deep playoff runs, goaltending stability remains the organization’s largest question mark. Including Korpisalo’s sparkling .921 save percentage after his acquisition, the team’s save percentage on the season was an abysmal .889, tied for the sixth worst in the league. 31-year-old journeyman Pheonix Copley had some capable moments, posting a .903 in over 30 games, but one can’t expect that to continue from the longtimer AHLer at this stage in his career.
Korpisalo, 29, spent his entire NHL career with Columbus up until the late-season trade. He had the strongest campaign of his eight-year career, managing to post a .911 save percentage in 26 starts on an extremely weak defensive team in Columbus. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, especially in brief postseason action, but long-term inconsistency has kept him from developing into a true starter. While a viable short-term solution for the Kings, it’s that inconsistency that would make some hesitant to hand the crease to Korpisalo.
But with free agency options somewhat limited and no bona fide prospect in the system, he might be their best option. The team is projected at just north of $7.3MM in cap space remaining this offseason, per CapFriendly, but they still have a quartet of restricted free-agent forwards to re-sign in Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Rasmus Kupari, Zack MacEwen, and Gabriel Vilardi. The impending crunch to upgrade their goalie position without any real financial resources to do so makes their decision to retain just over $2MM on Ivan Provorov’s cap hit in Tuesday’s deal puzzling.