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The Los Angeles Kings completed a huge deal on Wednesday ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the process, however, they also gave up franchise star Jonathan Quick, along with a conditional first-round pick in this year’s draft, and a third-round pick in 2024.
If you’re examining two of the biggest issues for the Kings this season, it’s been defensive lapses and of course, goaltending. With that in mind, this is a move that goes a long way to addressing the Kings’ areas of need.
With Gavrikov, Los Angeles gets a big, physical defenseman who’s reliable in his own end. It’s just the type of addition the Kings needed for their blue line. While he only played 16 minutes on the bottom pairing in his first game against Montreal, Gavrikov is expected to take on a larger role and looks to be paired with Matt Roy for tonight's game agains the St. Louis Blues. For context, he averaged 22 minutes per game in each of the last two seasons in Columbus.
Korpisalo, on the other hand, should help to address the team’s biggest need, between the pipes. The netminder was very good on a very poor team this year, posting a .913 save percentage across 28 games. He's expected to make his first start with the Kings tonight.
Is he going to be a long-term solution? I’d say it’s unlikely. He himself had back-to-back years of sub-.900 goaltending prior to this season. At the same time, he’s a clear upgrade and the Kings desperately needed to try to improve their goaltending situation. Even adequate netminding will give the Kings a much better shot at making some noise in the playoffs, and Korpisalo should help with that. Korpisalo also notably broke the record for most saves in a playoff game three years ago, when facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Of course though, the trade did come at the cost of offloading Jonathan Quick and his cap hit. Quick’s been having a terrible season, posting a disastrous .876 save percentage through 31 games.
At the same time, he’s the franchise’s all-time top goaltender and has done a ton for the organization. A two-time Stanley Cup Champion and a Conn Smythe winner in 2012, the Kings wouldn’t have won their cups without him. He ends his tenure as the winningest goalie in franchise history and sending him off to the worst team in the league at his age is a tough blow.
At the end of the day though, it’s a business decision. Quick’s $5.8 million cap hit was significant and if it meant having to move him to bring in some help, then it’s a harsh, but necessary move.
Quick was sent to the Vegas Golden Knights shortly after as well, and given the Golden Knights’ injury troubles in goal, he should get a chance to play some games. Despite him going to a divisional rival, it's good to know Quick has another shot at a possible postseason run.
As for the assets given up, it was a lot, but the Kings got not one but two players who help them right now. The team did protect themselves as well, with the condition that their first-round pick this year would instead be shifted to multiple second-round picks, should they somehow miss the playoffs.
Both players are pending unrestricted free agents, and according to Jeff Marek, the belief is Gavrikov isn’t interested in speaking about an extension right now. Given the Kings’ weakness on the left side of their defense group though, hopefully we see Gavrikov stick around, provided all goes well, as otherwise, it would be a lot to pay for two rentals.
The Kings are a better team after the move though, and that’s the point. With the West as wide-open as it is, Los Angeles has a legitimate shot to make it deep in the playoffs and this move gives them a good shot to do it.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM MARCH
Kings trade Jonathan Quick to Blue Jackets, acquire Gavrikov and Korpisalo
Kings acquire Erik Portillo from Sabres, Jonathan Quick heading to Vegas
Brendan Lemieux dealt to Flyers for Zack MacEwen, Wagner sent to Chicago