The LA Kings could use some goaltending depth in their prospect pipeline, and the 2022 Hobey Baker Award winner could be brought in without using a draft pick.
The LA Kings prospect pool is consistently ranked in the top five of all prospect pools in the National Hockey League.
The team is renowned for its collection of forward prospects, and the Kings are finding out their defensemen prospects have developed or are developing into a group that is envied by many other teams as well.
The one area Los Angeles could use a boost is in their goaltending prospect pool.
Sure, Matt Villalta, Lukas Parik, David Hrenak, and Jacob Ingham are fine prospects, but in all reality, none of them will be ready to challenge for a spot in the LA Kings goaltending tandem anytime soon.
Couple this with the fact that traditionally, goaltenders take the longest of any position to develop to the NHL level. Clearly, the Kings need a high-level goaltending prospect who could become an eventual successor to Jonathan Quick and, subsequently, Cal Petersen.
Enter Dryden McKay.
The 24-year-old McKay put together a sparkling career for the Minnesota State Mavericks. He has been particularly outstanding this season, ending the season with a record of 38-4-0 with a GAA of 1.27, a .934 save percentage, and two shutouts.
For his efforts, he was awarded the 2022 Hobey Baker Award as the best player in Division I college hockey this season. His college career culminates on Saturday night, as his Mavericks face the University of Denver Pioneers in the NCAA National Championship game.
TSN’s Craig Button had this to say about McKay:
“He does two things exceptionally well. Keep the puck out of the net and win,” said Button. “Don’t rule him out. He does things better than so many other goaltenders that might fit the mold.
“All I know is technically he is good, the foundation of his skill is good. If he was 6-foot-2 he would not be playing on Thursday, he would’ve been signed long ago. In the net, he’s a game-changer.”
High praise indeed from a highly respected evaluator of hockey talent.
For an idea of just how good McKay has been throughout his collegiate career, here is a look at his numbers:
|2018-2019||Minnesota State Univ. (Mankato)||NCAA||34||1.76||0.927|
|2019-2020||Minnesota State Univ. (Mankato)||NCAA||37||1.31||0.942|
|2020-2021||Minnesota State Univ. (Mankato)||NCAA||26||1.54||0.924|
|2021-2022||Minnesota State Univ. (Mankato)||NCAA||42||1.27||0.934|
Now, compare his college stats with the college stats of incumbent LA Kings goaltenders Quick and Petersen.
|2014-2015||Univ. of Notre Dame||NCAA||33||2.51||0.919|
|2015-2016||Univ. of Notre Dame||NCAA||37||2.2||0.927|
|2016-2017||Univ. of Notre Dame||NCAA||40||2.22||0.926|
As we can see, McKay’s college numbers compare favorably with those of both Quick’s and Petersen’s.
Granted, collegiate statistics are not everything, but McKay has played against very good competition and is a proven number one goaltender. He also has a winning pedigree, as proven by the fact he is ending his college career by playing for the National Championship.
The LA Kings have a large contingent of players and prospects representing the “State of Hockey” with Mikey Anderson and Alex Iafallo (Minnesota-Duluth), Brock Faber (University of Minnesota), and Hrenak and Blake Lizotte (St. Cloud St.) – thank you to Ryan Sikes for pointing this out.
The Kings have one open contract spot available and a need to fill a need in their prospect pool. It only makes sense for Rob Blake and company to fill it with another outstanding player from Minnesota.