It has been nearly 16 years since the Los Angeles Kings drafted goaltender Jonathan Quick. He has been a stalwart in net and their clear number one since the beginning of his professional career. However, in the past three seasons, his numbers have started to decline. For ten straight seasons to start his career, Quick posted no less than a .902 save percentage (SV%).
His average save percentage over those three seasons is .896, and he has losing records in two of those three seasons. It has finally come time that the Kings move on from Jonathan Quick.
There are rumors that he will be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft or that management wants to trade him. Either way, the Kings should move him. The trade deadline is fast approaching, calls are coming in, and talks are heating up. Seeing what Vegas did with Fleury could be huge motivation for Seattle to pursue his services and knowledge.
Letting Quick Go in the Expansion Draft
Teams must leave one goaltender exposed in the expansion draft, and the Kings have two who qualify: Quick and Cal Petersen. Seeing as Petersen is next in line for the no. 1 spot with Quick being in decline, protecting Petersen makes the most sense. The benefit to exposing Quick would be to offload his salary and create room for younger, prime-time players or goaltenders. The Kraken might consider taking Quick and then selecting a goaltender in the entry draft that he could mentor.
However, there are two cons to leaving Quick unprotected. First, the Kings would get nothing in return for their Cup-winning goalie if Seattle selects him, and second, they would be losing his vast knowledge of the game and his playoff experience. He is extremely valuable to the team’s up-and-comers, Petersen and Matthew Villalta. Even with their talent to push the Kings back into playoff contention, they could use all of the tips and tricks Quick has to help mature and advance their game.
Quick is still good enough to redeem some value in return, and that is why management should focus on trading him at the deadline more so than any other player. At this point in his career and the position the Kings are in with their goalies, he could bring some draft picks to help bolster their prospect pool even further.
Trading Quick Is the Best Option, But a Tough One
Wherever Quick ends up, he will not be the clear-cut starter. He will serve as a backup to a team’s young goaltenders, just as he’s done in LA. If anything, he could or should have been traded when he had a stronger value in that his numbers were a lot better three seasons ago. It would have been easier to get more for him.
Petersen has proven himself over the last three seasons by putting up numbers better than most goalies his age and of his caliber. Villalta could use a few more years to develop in the AHL to improve his numbers and prove he can be a solid backup. However, seeing as Villalta is not quite ready to make the jump to the NHL, the Kings should find a one-for-one trade; goalie for a goalie.
Who Should LA Trade For?
This is a bit of a doozy.
A realistic option would be Petr Mrazek. He is the Carolina Hurricanes’ top goaltender, but L.A. has a deep enough prospect pool that they could include a first-round pick with Quick to sweeten the deal for Carolina. Mrazek is still young enough at 29 to make him and Petersen a very solid 1-2 punch, and the Kings could sign him into his mid-thirties. Since Mrazek is a top goalie for Carolina, this will be a tough nut to crack. But it could end up working out well for both teams. Carolina gets the experience and pedigree that Quick comes with, and L.A. gets a reliable backup and mix-in starter to help if Petersen runs into any performance issues.
A wish list option would be Philipp Grubauer. He has played on some of the highest caliber NHL teams, including the Washington Capitals, where he won the Cup in 2018, and Colorado Avalanche. He has valuable playoff experience, and he has practiced with some of the hardest and most accurate shooters in the league, which would make him a great tutor for Petersen. The reason this remains as strictly a wish list item is that Quick is too old for a young Colorado squad. He could still fill in greatly as a mentor for Pavel Francouz and Hunter Miska, but Grubauer is worth more top picks than L.A. would want to give up.
The Final Verdict
At some point, the Kings will have to say goodbye to Quick. He provided the team with two championships in three years and their young goalies enough knowledge to give them a strong start to their careers, as he’s done with Petersen. So for the greater good of the squad, it is time to say goodbye to Quick.