For the past two and a half seasons, Jonathan Quick has been the Kings go-to keeper for virtually every major game. It’s been an interesting road, and for most fans (and likely even experts) he seemed to be keeping the seat warm for whenever Jonathan Bernier was able to make the jump to full-time starter. I think that time is quickly coming to an end. Don’t get me wrong, Bernier is still an amazing talent, and may be a superstar in this league. It’s even possible that he ends up snagging the starting job from Quick in the next year or two, but for now the era of waiting for Quick to move on has ended. At least in my mind.
Let’s take a look at his numbers over the past couple seasons:
2008 – 44GP, 21W-18L-2OTL .914sv% – 2.48GAA
2009 – 72 GP, 39W-24L-7OTL .907sv% – 2.54GAA
2010 – 61 GP, 35W-22L-3OTL .918sv% – 2.24GAA
Quick clearly functions better when he has at least a little support. In 2009, Quick struggled under the intense workload caused by a complete lack of faith in Ersberg (misplaced lack of trust in my mind, but that’s another post). In 2010, with a legitimate backup in the form of Bernier, Quick was able to regress to the more reasonable 61 GP, and his numbers to a related jump. Of course at least some of that bump was likely due to the fact that he’s gotten more experience in the NHL, and that experience level will only continue to develop. Let’s keep in mind, the kid is only 25 years old, and this was only his second full season in the NHL. He’s got more to develop, and he was a potential all-star this season.
In the playoffs, Quick faltered last season, but in 2010, on the back of substantially more rest, Quick flourished. He dominated the Sharks in long stretches, and while he gave up over 3 goals per game this playoffs, that number was dramatically inflated by two awful games, neither of which were substantially his fault. Both of which were the fault of his defense hanging him out to dry on attempt after attempt.
Having taken a legitimate look at Quickers, let’s take a more brief examination of his backup, Jonathan Bernier.
2010 – 25 GP, 11W-8L-3OTL .913sv% – 2.48GAA
Those are respectable numbers to be sure, made even better when you realize that for the first half of the season Bernier was… less than spectacular. Bernier didn’t lose a game (in regulation) after January, and racked up three shutouts during the same period. If the Kings can get Bernier to put his play in the second half of the season on display in the entire season, they’ll have the best backup in the league. If Bernier gets a chance to play, it’ll also be interesting to see how he does in the playoffs. He’s literally 9-0-3 with 4 shutouts in games played after January over the past two seasons. Maybe Bernier is a late season player, who picks it up when the season is on the line. Maybe he’s the kind of superstar in the making with the potential to carry the Kings to a Cup.
To be fair, it’s very hard to say. The one thing that I believe is quite clear is that both goaltenders have the very real potential to be stars in this league. Quick could have been an all-star this season (should have, in fact), and Bernier would be a slam dunk if he can gain a touch of consistency.
So what happens next? Trade? Sign them both? What do you think the Kings ought to do at this point? Make a move this summer, or wait and see what happens next year? It’s a tough call, and one that we here at RinkRoyalty will certainly be pondering going forward.