As news emerged on Monday that goalie Jeff Zatkoff would be missing no more than a week due to a groin injury he suffered on Saturday, there was at least a silver lining.
“I think a week is pretty much normal for that [injury],” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said on Monday. “It’s not extended or anything like that.”
Of course, the big issue for Los Angeles has been contending with the loss of Jonathan Quick, who could miss as much as three months with a lower body injury. The 30-year-old starter suffered the injury in the first game of the season after facing 15 shots.
Zatkoff steps in and was 0-3-0 with a 4.38 goals against average and a .839 save percentage. That’s not good.
The injuries cleared the way for goalie Peter Budaj to emerge from the AHL. Jack Campbell was called up as well, putting the Manchester Monarchs tandem front and centre in the National Hockey League.
Budaj was able to pick up the win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night and the 34-year-old Slovakian netminder has 300 games of NHL experience, so he should be able to weather the storm. Campbell has just one game of NHL experience and he was lit up for six goals on 47 shots as a member of the Dallas Stars, so you can imagine he’ll be looking for another kick at the can.
The Kings will face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and the Nashville Predators on Thursday, so it looks like Budaj will be in line for more starts.
“I just look at it like the schedule we play every other day and then back-to-back to finish this week, so he wouldn’t be eligible to come off until after we come home from that trip,” Sutter said of Zatkoff’s return.
There has been some chatter about the Kings looking at a possible trade, with names like Jonathan Bernier and Reto Berra batted around in the rumour mill. Winnipeg Jets veteran Ondrej Pavelec has also been in the mix, but the ask is high and many believe the team could be looking to hold on to the 29-year-old in case the youth movement falters.
Steve Mason is another possibility to handle Los Angeles’ woes, but Mason isn’t exactly an upgrade over the veteran Budaj and the cap hit could be tricky. In terms of money, someone like Pittsburgh’s Mike Condon seems more manageable.
For now, it looks like the Kings are going to stand pat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Budaj has the chops to carry a team and seems capable of doing the job for the time being.