How can the Kings fix their goaltending?

The LA Kings are facing a daunting challenge in their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. What can they do to fix the goaltending issues? Although, if you ask head coach Todd McLellan, the problems aren’t just in net but all over the ice. When presented with the question if there’s indeed a goaltending problem in Los Angeles, after a 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on January 19, McLellan tiptoed around the issue. “We have goaltending moments, but we have defensive moments and forward moments that don’t go our way.” For a team that’s top ten in most underlying defensive metrics and even to the naked eye, we certainly know that’s not the case.

Pheonix Copley, a journeyman AHL goaltender for most of his career, is getting the job done, for now. But questions remain whether his 15-3-0 record since joining the Kings is sustainable through the end of the season and into a potential playoff run. With a struggling franchise goaltender in Jonathan Quick and the presumed $5 million goalie of the future in Cal Petersen still finding his game in the AHL, the pressure is on General Manager Rob Blake to make some moves before the trade deadline on March 3rd.

Loyalty to Quick

For years, Jonathan Quick was the backbone of the Kings’ success, earning accolades as one of the top goalies in the NHL. However, this season, Quick has not been his usual self, and his numbers reflect this fact. With a goals-against average of 3.41 and a save percentage of .881, it’s clear the 37-year-old is not playing up to his usual standards.

This lack of production from Quick has put the Kings in a precarious position. With only a few weeks left until the trade deadline, Blake must act quickly to address this issue if the team wants to make a push for the playoffs. But what exactly can the Kings’ general manager do to fix the ongoing issue while still showing loyalty and appreciation to their long-time goaltender?

Option 1: Stand pat

The first option, and probably not the most exciting one, is to ride the wave with Copley and Quick hoping the two can last through the end of the season and revisit the issue over the summer. Although Quick is currently struggling and Copley is considered unproven, it may be best for the team to rely on these two netminders instead of giving up assets in trade for a new one.

We all know how Quick performs in the playoffs as he is considered one of the best big-game goalies in the NHL. If he can find his game once again that would be a huge benefit for LA. And who knows with Copley? The awaited drop in production hasn’t been steep with Pheonix coming off a career 45 save night in Florida leading the way to a 4-3 victory. By giving him a chance to prove himself, the Kings can avoid giving up valuable resources and potentially solve the problem via free agency or trade over the summer.

Option 2: Find a fix now and for the future at the deadline

This is the option I see spreading around the most on Twitter, find a new goaltender outside the organization via trade. A deal of this magnitude could provide a much-needed boost to the team’s performance and help to secure a stronger future for the Kings. By making a trade for a proven and reliable goaltender, the team can quickly improve their situation in net and potentially find a solution that will last past this season. The problem however is that franchise goaltenders aren’t always made available. And when they are, they don’t come cheap.

Arizona Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka is a name that continues to pop up among the Kings’ faithful. I don’t necessarily hate the idea of bringing in Vejmelka at the deadline. He’s put up decent numbers this season with 15.7 goals saved above expected according to MoneyPuck.com on a bad Coyotes team, and is signed to a reasonable cap hit of $2.725 million for the next two years, according to CapFriendly.com.

While it would be a hefty price to pay as LA won’t be the only team inquiring on the Arizona player, Rob Blake has the assets to beat them out. Hey, and maybe they can add Jakob Chychrun to the package as well.

Or what about San Diego native and former Jr. King Thatcher Demko up in Vancouver? The Canucks are on the verge of a rebuild. And moving their number one goalie who is signed for the next three seasons at an average annual value of $5 million per year, could be in the best interest for the player and the team.

Of course, any trade involving a goalie with term coming over to LA more than likely would involve Cal Petersen and his contract heading the other way, and Rob Blake would have to sweeten the deal for a team to take on that $5 million cap hit for the next two seasons.

Bringing in a new goaltender would force Pheonix Copley to be waived with the intention of sending him back to the Ontario Reign or be included in the deal. A bittersweet move for a player that has seemingly turned the season around for the Kings. While Jonathan Quick would more than likely stay on the Kings roster for the organization to show their appreciation for everything he’s done for the franchise.

These are tough trades to make in the middle of the season. But for a team desperate for goaltending help, the Kings could be forced to make the call.

Option 3: The rental market

A rental goaltender is considered a player who is in the final year of their contract and set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Going this route, the Kings can potentially address their current goaltending issues without committing to a long-term contract. This option allows the team to make a quick, short-term fix to their crease struggles without sacrificing too many future assets or cap space.

Some names that could be available come March 3rd include Ottawa’s Cam Talbot, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo, and San Jose’s James Reimer. However, for me, these names don’t bring much excitement or feel like much of an upgrade over what the Kings are already getting out of Pheonix Copley.

All in all, Rob Blake has some tough decisions on hand to improve his team’s performance. He must weigh the options between relying on the current tandem of Quick and Copley, trading for a new permanent solution, or acquiring a rental player to address the situation. Each option has its own set of benefits and risks, and Blake must carefully consider what is best for the team moving forward. Ultimately, the success of the LA Kings rests on the decisions that Blake makes in addressing their goaltending struggles, and he must make a smart, informed choice that will help secure their future.

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