So much for the Los Angeles Kings depends on a healthy, happy Jonathan Quick. If his health issues are not a thing of the past, the Kings appear equipped to handle the fallout.
With Matt Millar joining Bill Ranford as the organization’s goaltending gurus who have a history of making goalies better, and with Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen on the brink of becoming legitimate NHL netminders, goaltending should be a position of strength for the Kings during the 2019-2020 season.
Sure, the best scenario would involve a healthy Quick rebounding from a rough season in 2018-19 and getting plenty of rest during the upcoming regular season because the team has sharp, reliable backups they won’t hesitate to use at any time. But you never know for sure how it’s all going to play out, so having three quality goalkeepers to start the season is a good problem to have.
Campbell Steps Up
The 27-year-old Campbell stepped up when Quick was injured last season, going 10-14-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average (GAA) and a .928 save percentage (SV%). He was also the Kings’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who shows perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship.
Campbell showed he has the ability to dominate when he registered a combined 82 saves in shutouts versus the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 11 and at the Calgary Flames on March 25 of last season. He also had a 49-save performance on April 2 in a 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes. He was a bright spot in a down season for the Kings.
Make Way for Petersen?
The Kings also are extremely high on Petersen, whom they just signed to a three-year contract extension. The first year is two-way, meaning he earns a different salary in the AHL than he does in the NHL. He will likely start in the AHL with the Ontario Reign before joining the NHL club full-time beginning in the second year of his contract.
The Kings like what they have seen from Petersen, who played well in his 10 starts last season, going 5-4-1 with a 2.60 GAA and a .924 SV%. If his contract extension is any indication, the Kings think the 24-year-old will be a full-time NHL goalkeeper by next season.
The Quick Situation
The veteran standout and two-time Stanley Cup champion is coming off a down season. Quick, fresh off knee surgery, had his moments, but didn’t play consistently well, with a 3.41 GAA and an .887 SV%.
But don’t write him off just yet.
Quick is just one season removed from winning the Jennings Trophy when he had a 2.40 GAA and a .921 SV%. If he’s healthy, content with the new coaching situation, and if the team’s defensive effort is stronger than last season, there is a good chance the 33-year-old can still be an elite goalkeeper.
After all, it’s hard to forget Quick’s dominance in leading the Kings to their first ever Stanley Cup title, when he earned all 16 wins and enjoyed a .946 SV% and a 1.41 GAA in the postseason. He led the charge with big save after big save as the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils in six games to capture the 2012 Cup.
Does Quick have another deep playoff run or two left in him?
Less Is More
The answer to helping keep Quick healthy, motivated, and sharp might be to play him less, maybe 60 to 65 percent of the season. This makes sense because he is a grizzled veteran now, and he has two backups who appear to be good enough to be starters. A Quick-Campbell or Quick-Petersen tandem would be top-shelf.
Why overuse Quick during the regular season at his age, especially with Campbell and Petersen itching to get between the pipes. Use Quick wisely and get Campbell and/or Petersen more playing time at the same time.
If this is considered a rebuilding season for the Kings, getting Quick and Campbell or Petersen consistent playing time seems ideal. If a lot of things go right for the team, starting with a stellar goaltending tandem, a playoff appearance shouldn’t be out of reach.
Former newspaper scribe. Sports writer. Song and Dance Man.