Just two days before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline passed, LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake made an under-the-radar trade to acquire goalie prospect Erik Portillo from the Buffalo Sabres.
In the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Buffalo Sabres drafted goalie prospect Erik Portillo with the 67th overall pick. Due to the Sabres also having Devon Levi in their goalie pipeline, along with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen coming up the ranks behind Craig Anderson and Eric Comrie, Buffalo had a logjam of goalies and was the perfect trade partner for the LA Kings in this way.
The Kings have a lack of goalie depth and was arguably the biggest position of need heading into this year’s trade deadline. The other major position of need left-handed defenseman. Well, GM Rob Blake being aware of his team’s needs, he addressed both.
Granted, acquiring Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes could have been an upgrade over Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets, however the Kings did not pass the trade deadline without a new body on the blue-line. We will have yet to see if Gavrikov will be in Los Angeles long-term, but for now he is an able body who can help the Kings make the playoffs.
Coming in from Columbus with Vladislav Gavrikov was net-minder Joonas Korpisalo, who has been stellar in his first two starts for the LA Kings.
Korpisalo helps the Kings in the present, but acquiring Erik Portillo helps the Kings in the future. Rob Blake added to an incredibly deep pipeline of quality prospects in 6-foot-6, 225-pound Erik Portillo. After he was traded to the Kings, it was reported that he (Portillo) did not see a future in playing for the Sabres with all of the other competition between the pipes.
So, the University of Michigan junior was a perfect candidate to come to the LA Kings. The LA Kings are known for a deep pipeline of right-handed shot defensemen and forwards. But as far as left-shot defensemen and goaltenders, not so much.
Portillo is currently 22 years old and could see NHL ice in theoretically a couple of years. Right now, he is a junior for the Wolverines and is set to take on the rival Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the 2023 Big Ten Ice Hockey Tournament. The game is set for this evening at 6:30 PM in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the Big Ten Network.
Tune in to watch Portillo and the Wolverines take on the Buckeyes!