In a shocking move, the Los Angeles Kings have acquired goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jonathan Quick and draft picks. While it clearly improves the resources available to coach Todd McLellan, including Quick in the package wasn’t something openly expected as a possibility even just a few days ago.
The deal for Gavrikov and Korpisalo has LA sending this year's first round pick and Jonathan Quick to CBJ
More to come
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) March 1, 2023
There could be more to the deal, we’re still gathering information.
In addition to Quick, LA is sending the Blue Jackets a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. If the Kings qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blue Jackets will receive the 2023 first-round pick but if LA does not reach the postseason, Columbus will instead acquire LA’s second round picks in the 2023 and 2024 NHL Drafts.
After the trade & saving $404K Cap hit this year, #LAKings have $1.2M Projected Cap space with 23 players on the active roster.
This can fit $5.04M in Annual Cap Hit today or $5.3M on Friday.https://t.co/6DmgFKSKHd
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) March 1, 2023
Perhaps the best Kings deadline trades have involved getting players from Columbus. Will lightning strike a third time? Unlike the Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik trades, this one involves getting a left shot defenseman and a goaltender, two areas of concern for LA throughout this season.
Going the other way will be an LA Kings legend and future Hall of Famer in Quick. He is currently in the final season of a 10-year contract that carries a $5.8M AAV and will be an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer.
At this time, it remains unclear if he will actually even play a game for the Blue Jackets or if this is all part of a salary cap move for both clubs. Columbus currently has multiple goaltenders on their NHL roster and a high-level prospect in the AHL. Coming into the season, Quick said he wanted to continue playing beyond this season. If that’s still true, he wasn’t going to retire with the Kings regardless of this trade. Aspects of the scenario may have even been discussed with management recently — not the part about a trade to Columbus, but reaffirming his future plans. Thus, there likely wasn’t a Dustin Brown-esque ‘I’m retiring at season’s end’ announcement coming soon, even with his poor statistical season.
Last Friday, Quick moved into third place all-time for wins by an American born goalie (370). He was the backbone of two Stanley Cups in LA, won the 2012 Conn Smythe trophy and a laundry list of other awards. His number will eventually be retired by the Kings in a few years and a statue outside the arena would be more than justified. Quick leaves the organization with several franchise records for goalies, including games played (743), wins (370), and shutouts (57).
Gavrikov, 27, will be added into a top-four role on the Kings and be relied upon to play heavy minutes. With Columbus this year, he was averaging just over 22 minutes a night and has been a key figure on their penalty kill, leading the team in ice time. Gavrikov will be the closest thing LA has had to a Robyn Regehr-type in many years — a big, physical blueliner, who plays defense first.
We had first mentioned the 6-foot-3 Russian defender as being on the Kings radar back in December. Gavrikov is wrapping up a three-year deal paying him $2.8M AAV. He’s expected to get a hefty raise as a UFA this summer.
Korpisalo, a 28-year-old Finnish native, was originally drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2012. He’s played 210 NHL games and has seen a lot of rubber this season, averaging 33 shots per game. Over 28 appearances in 2022-23, he holds a .913 save percentage. He’s being brought in to hopefully stabilize the Kings crease. When it comes to postseason experience, Korpisalo owns the record for most saves in a playoff game with 85 saves in a five-overtime loss against Tampa Bay in the 2020 playoff bubble.
He will be a UFA this summer, as he is nearing completion of a one-year deal paying him a modest $1.3M AAV.
The Kings still have other work to do this summer to clear up their roster and salary cap situation. However, they are expected to try and retain the services of at least one of Gavrikov and Korpisalo, if not both.
First things first, though…
Coming off a win in Winnipeg on Tuesday night, the Kings continue to have one of the best records in the Western Conference over the last two months. Since a mid-December loss in Buffalo, they’ve been sneaky good — usually powered by their offense, which has been much improved this season (largely helped by a lethal power play). Meanwhile, until just recently, they’ve had a negative goal differential most of the season. Overall, the Kings team save percentage is .881, second to last in the league. Their goals against average is 3.39, 11th worst in the NHL.
With this trade, GM Rob Blake addressed two critical areas of concern, goaltending and their long-time search for a left shot defenseman. The team will now play 10 of their next 11 games at home in March, as they make a push to claim their first division title since 1991. They currently sit at 76 points, tied with Vegas for the Pacific Division lead.
As Friday’s NHL Trade Deadline approaches, look for Blake to use his new found cap savings to target a bottom-6 forward with toughness, preferably a center. More about this idea was discussed here).
In an unrelated move, Brendan Lemieux was recently moved to non-roster status. He is not part of the trade, but rather away with the team due to a personal issue. This left the Kings at 22 players on the active roster. With moving Quick that put them at 21, followed by the acquisition of two players has them now back at the 23-player roster limit.
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