Jonathan Quick will be out of action at least two more months, and if the Kings want to get back into contention for a Pacific Division crown, GM Dean Lombardi might need to find his team a legitimate starting option.
Recent speculation about Jonathan Quick’s recovery led to some speculation that the netminder could be sidelined longer than originally expected, and Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed just that Wednesday, saying Los Angeles isn’t expecting to have their starting goaltender back in the lineup until at least mid-February.
Catastrophe struck for both the Kings and Quick, 30, when he suffered a reported groin injury in the Kings’ season opener against the San Jose Sharks, and an MRI later revealed that the netminder needed to undergo what Los Angeles referred to only as a “procedure” and would miss roughly three months. The estimated return date for Quick, then, was sometime in the middle of January.
However, Lombardi’s update on Quick Wednesday afternoon now has the goaltender sidelined for an additional month, and the worst-case scenario would see Los Angeles with their two-time Stanley Cup-winning keeper until March, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott.
With Quick on the shelf, the Kings have turned to Peter Budaj in goal as their stop-gap No.1 netminder, and given the situation the veteran backup has turned in quite the admirable performance. He has seen action in 25 games, posted a 13-7-2 record and has two shutouts to go with a 2.27 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. As far as season’s when he’s seen this much work go, the 34-year-old is on pace for a career year.
Yet the fact of the matter is that while Budaj has been good compared to his past statistics, he hasn’t been quite the goaltender Quick is. With three losses in their past four games and an uncharacteristically high goals against total — the Kings are on pace for 217 goals against, 20 more than their current worst season under coach Darryl Sutter — Lombardi told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun that he’s going to continue to look at what options could be available via trade.
Finding a trade partner, and a goalie worth trading for, has been tough sledding for the Kings, though. Lombardi told Elliott that he didn’t want to “throw the kitchen sink” into the mix to land a starting netminder, and, according to LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen, one major issue is that teams with split-starter situations may not be willing to part with their secondary netminder for cheap. That’s an issue given the upcoming expansion draft.
“I think what happens too is even the teams that have maybe a 1 and a 1-A, they’re looking at it, ‘Well, what happens if I lose my guy?’ ” Lombardi said, according to Rosen. “You’re almost going down to the third man on the depth chart when you’re talking to a lot of these teams and then you also have the issue too, that if you highlight a certain guy, then you’ve got the realization, number one: you’ve got a number one goalie coming back, [and] two: with expansion coming, if he is a top guy you’re going to lose him, so how much are you going to give up for a two-month asset?”
At this point, though, a player worth trading for, or at least one worth taking the risk on, hasn’t come up. But don’t expect Lombardi to stop looking.
With Quick sidelined for what could be much of the remainder of the campaign, finding a netminder who can steal the Kings some wins could very well be helps Los Angeles shake their current slump and fight their way back into the playoffs.
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