Goaltending going into the 2023-24 NHL season is a giant question mark for the LA Kings. However, there remains intrigue with the crop of goaltenders throughout the NHL, AHL, ECHL, NCAA, and overseas.
My number one goalie for the Kings and the probable starter for Opening Night is Pheonix Copley. Signed as a depth option a year ago, he stepped up when both Cal Petersen and Johnathan Quick struggled.
He ended his debut year for LA with 24 wins, 2.64 goals against, a .903 save percentage, and a lone shutout. He was a primary factor in the team’s return to the playoffs and received a one-year contract extension worth $1,500,000 as a result.
Cam Talbot opens the year as my number-two netminder. He had a tough season last year for Ottawa with injuries, yet possessed a goals-against average under three sitting at 2.93.
Now that he’s back to full health and with better defensive play in front of him, Talbot should perform much better this season. He’ll provide Todd McLellan with a familiar solid backup option with prior playoff experience.
Portillo should be the day-one starter for the Ontario Reign. Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, he’s a beast standing at 6’6″ and weighing 224 Ib.
Watching him at this summer’s development camp was a sight to behold. He moved quickly for his size covering much of the net down low. There were a couple of times when it looked like a sure goal but his glove or blocker shut down the high danger chances.
His stats weren’t the best during his last season playing for the University of Michigan, however, I look at the Michigan team as a whole and they poured on the goals but left Erik out to dry quite a few games. Portillo outlooks to be the LA Kings’ future starter and should get plenty of chances in Ontario to live up to that potential.
David Rittich is an underrated depth signing by general manager Rob Blake. He had an okay year with the Jets last season going 9-8-1 with 2.67 GAA and a .901 Sv%. He’ll be a good mentor for the young Portillo and could be the call-up in case of injuries or struggles at the NHL level. Plus he’s willing to start trouble with the other team which could lead to more moments like we saw from Copley against Gibson in Anaheim.
If tonight's goalie matchup is Dave Rittich and Darcy Kuemper, don't rule out a goalie fight.
From 2019: pic.twitter.com/PKA31nHCq9
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) May 3, 2022
Hampton Slukynsky was our 4th round pick in this year’s draft. Everything I have seen and read leads me to believe this is a steal of a pick by Rob Blake. He’s going to Northern Michigan and I believe he’ll continue to impress and be a potential piece of this Kings team in the future.
Juho Markkanen is a project goalie in my opinion. He has struggled mightily in Europe for the last couple of seasons. While he still has potential, after his season ends in Liga, the Kings would be wise to bring him to North America for some games at the ECHL level to get him time in a league where he can develop his craft.
Jacob Ingham figures to be the starter for the LA Kings’ ECHL affiliate Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He missed all of last year due to injury but played well prior. He has an outside chance to push for an AHL spot but he’d have to outplay Portillo and Rittich for that to happen which seems unlikely.
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