LA Kings: The case to keep Jonathan Quick on the team

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

Trade rumors have suddenly resurfaced about the veteran goaltender, but should the LA Kings make a deal?

Recent articles in the Athletic and here have suggested the LA Kings could potentially trade franchise icon Jonathan Quick. As he enters the twilight of his career, how did we get to this point?

It will be nine years ago this June that Jonathan Quick was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after leading the LA Kings to their very first Stanley Cup championship.

Nine years.

Since that time, Quick has climbed to the top of the mountain once more in 2014. After that, it has been a slow, if not steady, decline for the man once known as “the best money goaltender in hockey.”

Jonathan Quick has been the incumbent starting goaltender in Los Angeles for over a decade. Besides the aforementioned Stanley Cups, he has also won the William Jennings Trophy in 2014 and 2018 as the NHL goaltender who allowed the fewest goals against in a season. Quick also played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2012 and 2016 and was a United States Olympian in 2010 and 2014 – winning the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The only time Quick has not received the lions share of the starts in the LA Kings net is when he has been injured. In the 2013-14 season, he played only 49 games due to a groin injury – the same injury would limit his 2016-17 season to just 17 games. The latter injury was so concerning it spurred then General Manager Dean Lombardi to make a blockbuster trade for Ben Bishop in February of 2017.

A torn meniscus would result in Quick appearing in only 46 games for the 2018-19 season. Despite the injuries, replacements like Martin Jones, Peter Budaj, Jeff Zatkoff, Ben Bishop, and Jack Campbell could never seize the starting job from Jonathan Quick each time he returned from his injuries.

This season, however, Quick could very well be usurped as the LA Kings starting goaltender. Young netminder Calvin Petersen has been outstanding so far – despite having only two wins, he has a sparkling .926 save percentage to go with a 2.49 GAA. Compare this with Quick’s two wins and less than average .867 save percentage to go with a 4.05 GAA. It’s easy to see why Petersen has started three games in a row.

Despite the pedestrian stat line, Jonathan Quick is still a very serviceable NHL goaltender, so it’s not surprising there is potential interest in him. Per the Athletic and Sikes’ articles, the team that could be the most potentially interested in him is the Pittsburgh Penguins. This should not be surprising either, as new Penguins General Manager Ron Hextall has just come over from the Kings organization where he was the Assistant General Manager and is very familiar with Jonathan Quick.

To make a deal work with the Penguins (or a lot of other teams, for that matter), the Kings will have to retain some of Quick’s salary. If it is half of that salary, it means LA will be on the hook for $2.9 million for two more seasons after this one. The LA Kings do have the cap space (for now) to do this, but is having dead cap space worth it?

The common name that comes up as a return in the Quick trade rumors is Pittsburgh goaltender Casey DeSmith. He carries a minuscule $1.25 million cap hit and is signed through next season. DeSmith would certainly slide into the backup goaltender role in LA, as they have no better options available in the organization at this time.

DeSmith’s $1.25 million cap hit is certainly appealing, but now add in the retained $2.9 million from Quick’s contract, and you now have a $4.15 million cap hit for Casey DeSmith for this season and next – and don’t forget the $2.9 million in dead cap space for the 2022-23 season.

Broken down, this means the Kings save $1.65 million in cap space for this season and next, then $2.9 million for the final season of the Quick contract – a total savings of $6.2 million in cap space – which averaged out over this season and the next two equals just over $2 million per season.

The LA Kings are not desperate for cap space, nor will they be in the immediate future. Wouldn’t it be wiser for the team to keep a proven winner like Quick in a backup role and mentor to Petersen?

Teams that think they are close to a Stanley Cup sometimes overpay at the trade deadline for players they think will take them over the top. If this happens to the Kings for Quick, of course, they should take it and figure out the backup goaltender from there. If the Kings hang on to Quick this season, he might have even more value at next season’s trade deadline as he will be one season closer to the end of his contract.

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In exploring other avenues to move Quick, perhaps the Kings can entice Seattle to take him and his entire cap hit in the expansion draft. It is not at all inconceivable that Jonathan Quick will not finish his career with the LA Kings, but at this point in time, he is worth more than a backup goaltender, a draft pick, and unneeded cap savings.