Jonathan Quick leaves Kings shorthanded until March
“Out indefinitely” was the initial prognosis for goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Optimistic fans knew this could mean a return in December for the netminder who went down in the team’s first game of the season.
More grim-minded supporters were eerily reminded of the Carey Price saga just last season. What started out as an ‘indefinite’ rehab with hopes of a mid-season return saw the Montreal starter sit out the entire remainder of the season, after going down in late October. He didn’t make a return to the crease until September, when he stood in net for Team Canada at the World Cup.
Quick’s timeline may very likely fall somewhere between the optimistic outlook and the pessimistic projection – but for now, it looks like he’s falling closer to the Price end of the scale.
The Kings confirmed on Wednesday, via Helene Elliott, that Quick is expected to be out until March. With no specific given as to whether that means ‘early March’ or ‘late March’, there’s a chance Kings fans won’t be able to see their number one until the final few games of the season – and that’s if his recovery continues on schedule.
Los Angeles currently sits above a .500 for the season, boasting a 14-12-2 record.
That’s only good for fifth in the Pacific, though, and it banks very heavily on things continuing to go well for Peter Budaj’s renaissance season as the team’s last-minute starter. He currently sits on a 13-7-2 record, earning the Kings all but one of their wins and providing them all the points they’ve earned on the year but two.
Any wear and tear on his body as the season wears on – which seems likely for the active-styled 34-year-old netminder – leaves the Kings with the unproven Jeff Zatkoff, who has struggled considerably more than Budaj so far. He has a sub-.900 save percentage and boasts the team’s only other win, going 1-5-0 so far to underwhelm fans.
If those two are unable to carry the net, the Kings are left without many options.
The club tried to bring former NHLer Anders Lindback into the system on a PTO with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, but things didn’t seem to work out there. His status with the minor league club remained unclear for a few weeks before he ultimately departed for good; as of this morning, it seems he has officially signed with Rögle BK to remain in the SHL for the season.
That leaves the club with just Jack Campbell, Jonah Imoo, and Jack Flinn in the system. Neither Imoo nor Flinn are signed to deals that would enable them to play at the NHL level – and neither are at the point in their development where that’s realistic, either. Campbell could play up, but the team is trying to help him redevelop his game; bumping him up to the NHL early could undo the hard work that goaltending coach Dusty Imoo has put in this year.
They could, of course, sign someone inexpensive or deal for someone.
Jhonas Enroth seems to be on the outs with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was waived by the club, then demoted to the AHL; once he had left the Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock had some barbed comments seemingly directed at his height. He had been successful as a backup in LA last year; if they wanted to try to get something done, it doesn’t appear it would be too difficult.
Then, of course, there’s Karri Ramo. He’s on an amateur tryout with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL while he awaits medical clearance to sign a true pro deal, so LA could try to grab him. He could be a lateral move for the Kings, though, so that’s a risky option at best.
All of the best goaltenders that are likely available seem to be out of LA’s price range (think: Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ondrej Pavelec) but if they were truly desperate and hoped for a postseason run, they could try and get something done with retained salary or moving a player out.
It’s a long shot, though. With this news, the 2016-17 season for the Kings just got a lot more grim – and there doesn’t seem to be a ton of help on the way. Fingers crossed that Budaj can hold down the fort until March.