Jeff Zatkoff’s injury was bad news for the Kings, but the timeframe for his return to the lineup is far from the worst-case scenario.
The 29-year-old goaltender fell injured hours before the Los Angeles’ weekend tilt with the Vancouver Canucks and was placed on the injured reserve, but after evaluation, coach Darryl Sutter said that he’s not expecting Zatkoff to be sidelined for much more than a week, according to LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen.
Already dealing with a long-term ailment to starting netminder Jonathan Quick, losing Zatkoff for an extended period of time would have undoubtedly forced the Kings to look outside the organization for help in goal. Peter Budaj, who started Saturday, is a suitable stop gap but he’s not the long-term solution. Realistically, there is no long-term solution for Quick being sidelined.
That said, the Kings seemed prepared to roll with Zatkoff barring any acquisition from outside the organization to help Los Angeles in goal. But that feeling seems to have changed, no doubt spurred on by Zatkoff’s short-term ailment.
Even though Zatkoff’s return is possible as soon as Los Angeles returns home from a brief two-game road trip this coming weekend, the Kings went looking for someone who could fill their need in the interim and have reportedly gone out and inked experienced backup netminder Anders Lindback, according to expressen.se’s Henrik Sjoberg.
While the deal hasn’t yet been made official, the likelihood is that Lindback will sign a two-way deal of some sort to stick around with the Kings organization for the remainder of the season.
The 28-year-old Swedish keeper has 130 games of NHL experience, suiting up for the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes, but he’s been nothing more than mediocre over his time in the big league. Over the course of his career, Lindback has posted a 2.87 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, and his numbers have dropped precipitously since leaving Nashville in 2012-13.
While he may not exactly be full-time starting material, signing Lindback would mean the Kings could then send fourth-stringer Jack Campbell back to the AHL. Campbell, the 11th overall pick at the 2010 draft, is a reclamation project of sorts after some tough seasons with the Dallas Stars, and he needs more seasoning in the AHL if he’s going to become a full-time NHLer of any kind.
Bringing Lindback in also affords the Kings some choices when Zatkoff does return. A pair of backups for Zatkoff allows Los Angeles to choose which netminder they would want to send back to the AHL to play alongside Campbell, and the more options the better, as the Kings may have to start by committee over the coming months.
It’s still not the ideal situation in the Los Angeles crease — and nothing short of a miraculous recovery for Quick will be — but if the Kings were looking for a cheap stopgap, they could do much worse than signing Lindback and hoping he can be serviceable during Los Angeles’ time of need.
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