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Kings Blake Solves Goaltending Issues in a Day

But the need for reinforcements in net seemed more pressing.



Early this season it became clear goaltending was holding back the Los Angeles Kings.

The tandem of Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen was one of the league's worst and the Kings were routinely losing games off the back of poor play in net.

Pheonix Copley came up in December and started to right the ship, but he always felt like a short-term fix. Not a reliable option to lead this team into the playoffs.

And especially not as a true number one who could consistently perform at a high level every night.

After the Kings' 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The Kings had three goalies play 10 or more games, none of those goalies had a .900 save percentage or better and all of them had a negative goals saved above expected.

The need for an improvement in net was clear. 

Not only for this season but moving forward the Kings needed help.

With one of the league's best prospect pools, the Kings' lack of goalie prospects has been a problem for a while now. 

Matt Vilalta is the only goalie who looks like he might have an NHL future. And that future is as a backup. 

Heading into the trade deadline, most of the conversations surrounding the Kings focused on adding a left-shot defenseman. 

But the need for reinforcements in net seemed more pressing. 

On Wednesday, in roughly eight hours, the Kings announced two trades that solved the issue of short-term goaltending and long-term goaltending. 

The Kings officially announced the deal that sent Quick, a first-round pick and a third-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov. Then announced they had acquired the right to Buffalo Sabres prospect Erik Portillo in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick.

Korpisalo is an immediate upgrade on Quick. Posting a .911 save percentage and 5.28 goals saved above expected on a terrible Blue Jackets team. Korpisalo has been a solid goalie with the potential to be more on a good team.

Korpisalo has been inconsistent throughout his career. And his two seasons prior to this one were terrible. He was anchored near the bottom of the league in goals saved above expected with a poor save percentage.

But there are two reasons Blake and the Kings would be confident his play this season can be representative of what he actually is. 

Firstly, he underwent surgery last summer to repair a hip injury that had been plaguing him for "some time." This might be the first time Korpsialo has been healthy for a long time and that can make a huge difference.

Second, is Bill Ranford on the Kings' coaching staff. Ranford has turned around the careers of countless goalies and Korpisalo could be the next one in a long list.

Especially given what Korpisalo lacks. The general consensus with Korpisalo is that the physical and athletic tools are there. He's just lacked the fundamentals to be a consistent starter in the NHL.

This is where Ranford can fix him. Sometimes an incredible goalie coach is all it takes to iron out the kinks in a goalie's game. And if anyone can do this, it's Ranford.

Portillo is someone that should excite all Kings fans. He's been projected as a top goalie prospect for several years now and is only available because of the emergence of Devon Levi over the last few seasons.

He's a third-round pick, very high for a goalie, who's been one of the best goalies in college hockey over the last three seasons.

Like Korpisalo, the tools are there. Standing 6-foot-6, he's a massive goalie who takes up a lot of the net. At 225 pounds, he's also strong and can move from post to post with a lot of power. 

He's calm in the net and rarely panics. When on, he's unbeatable. 

Another goalie who struggles with some fundamentals and consistency. He'll also benefit from time with Ranford.

He's also still very young for a goalie. At 22 years old he's still very much at the beginning of his career. There's still so much room to grow and several people still see a very high ceiling with Portillo.

With proper development, he can be a true number one for the Kings.

It's been a stellar 24 hours from Blake. Many fans were upset with the Quick trade and the pieces returned, but it's unquestionable that he's made the team better by upgrading to Korpisalo.

And Portillo gives them a much-needed, high-end goalie prospect.

Blake's fixed the Kings' goalie issue in a single workday and given the team a real chance to contend this season.

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