Before the emergence of Jonathan Quick as a number one goalie in the NHL, the Kings (and Kings’ fan base) were subjected to consistently bad goaltending and a weak goalie prospect pool. With almost twenty years of mediocre goaltending, Dean Lombardi came in as general manager and made it a point to draft from the back out. Many thought his first-round pick in 2006, Jonathan Bernier, would be the Kings’ future goalie, but it was former GM Dave Taylor’s 2005 third-round draft pick that would establish himself as the Kings’ franchise goalie. Quick has played so well since becoming starter for Los Angeles in 2008-2009, that the thought of another goalie taking his place is inconceivable at this point.
After the 2011-2012 season, and the Kings’ first championship in franchise history, Lombardi rewarded Quick with a 10-year contract worth $58 million. With eight years remaining on his contract, a Conn Smythe Trophy win as playoff MVP and two Stanley Cups, Quick should be the starting goalie for a long time. However, knowing that some uncontrollable things can happen in the next eight years of Quick’s contract, it is imperative to have support in positions that appear to be solid.
An Adequate Backup Goalie in Jhonas Enroth
Jhonas Enroth and the Kings agreed on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million on July 1 of this year. Enroth is by no means a prospect at the age of 27, but it is important to include him in the goaltending category as injuries to Quick have happened before and Enroth could be called upon.
Quick appeared in 72 games last season, nearly 90 percent of the NHL regular season, only Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals played more games. On top of that he played in 64 playoff games over the previous three seasons, had multiple surgeries and a major groin injury. Enroth will likely have to help lighten the load this season.
This should not be a problem for Enroth who played 50 games with the Buffalo Sabres and the Dallas Stars last season and had 81 games of NHL experience before that, with a season high of 28 games played in 2013-2014. Furthermore, Enroth has put up reasonable numbers with an average adjusted save percentage of 92.93 percent at even strength while having to face more than 31 shots per game over the last two seasons. If Enroth cannot provide the team with what they are looking for, prospect J.F. Berube would be the next goalie called upon.
The Goalie Tandem for the Kings’ AHL Affiliate
Jean-Francois Berube, a native of Repentigny, is 24 years old and was drafted by the Kings in round four of the 2009 NHL draft. Berube spent his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Montreal Juniors in which he held the honor of CHL Goalie of the Week twice.
Following his time in the QMJHL, Berube spent two years splitting time between the ECHL with the Ontario Reign and the AHL. He had a shaky start to his professional career with the Kings. It was not until last season that Berube established himself as the number one goalie in the AHL having appeared in 52 games for the Manchester Monarchs with a goals against average of 2.18 and save percentage hovering a little over 91 percent.
Berube helped lead the Manchester Monarchs to the franchise’s first Calder Cup playing in the first 17 games of the playoffs, but was injured in a game three loss in the Calder Cup Finals to the Utica Comets.
The Kings showed confidence in Berube and signed him to a two-year deal last June. However, this is the final year of his contract and he would have to clear waivers were he to join the Kings at any point in the season and be sent back down. At this moment, Berube looks as though he will start this upcoming season in Ontario with Patrik Bartosak serving as backup.
Bartosak brings a very interesting dynamic to the goalie tandem that will start for the Ontario Reign this season. He is two years younger than Berube, but has a lot more international experience and better numbers at the professional level.
The Czech Republic native played with the Under-18 HC Vitkovice Steel in the Czech Extraglia as a 17-year-old behind current Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek. Bartosak won the U-18 and U-20 Championships in 2008-2009 and had the best save percentage for the Czech U-18 League in 2009-2010.
Bartosak was then drafted by the Red Deer Rebels in 2011 and put up some very good numbers in the Western Hockey League. He was also named CHL goalie of the week twice, the CHL Goaltender of the Year and WHL Goaltender of the year in 2012-2013 before being drafted by the Kings in 2013 and signing an entry-level contract the next year.
Last season with the Monarchs, Bartosak played 28 games posting better numbers than Berube and was able to come in and play the final three games of the playoffs with a 0.930 save percentage in those three games that ultimately helped the Monarchs secure their first Calder Cup.
Berube and Bartosak may have taken different paths to the AHL, but this season will give the Kings a better perspective of which goalie prospect is developing into trade bait down the line and which goalie will be worth keeping around for a couple more years, given Quick’s contractual status and proven, elite NHL play.
2014 NHL Draft Pick Alec Dillon
In last year’s draft, the Kings selected 6’5” goalie Alec Dillon with the 150 overall pick in round five. This year, Dillon had an outstanding season playing in the USHL. He was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team, the USHL Second All-Star Team and held the USHL’s best goals against average at 2.27.
Following the season he had with the Tri City Storm in the USHL, Dillon committed to playing for Renssealer Polytechnic Institute only to back out of his commitment with that team and sign with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Dillon feels this will give him a chance to play a lot of games, play in a big hockey market and show the Kings he is serious about becoming a professional.
Even with only four goalies signed to the organization and five in the system, the Kings still have great depth at the goalie position. Quick is a workhorse and has proven to be a winner when the game matters most and Enroth should serve as a very sufficient backup behind him. Berube and Bartosak are on the right path towards development and the Kings 2014 fifth-round draft pick, Dillon, played really well in the USHL last year.
All signal good things for the team and the position as the Kings (and the rest of the NHL) slowly creep towards the beginning of the regular season.
Cole R. Querry resides in Southern California. Having played hockey through college and a background in science and math, he promises to bring an objective analysis to the team and sport he loves.