I'd like to open up a discussion about the state of the Kings' goaltending depth, and what people think should be done in the near and long term future to make sure this stays an organizational strength.
No need to rehash what we already know about Quick--He is the franchise #1 goaltender, and will be for a very long time, baring major injury.
Bernier will be traded soon, possibly before seasons starts (and without a doubt before next season), and we will have a hole in our depth chart. We have Jones, Berube, and Gibson in the wings, with only Jones playing at the AHL level currently. I would love to hear anyone's opinion who's been able to watch Gibson and Berube play this season and last, but as to Jones...
Jones is not close to being NHL ready, even in a backup role. He has the size and the fundamentals to potentially handle the job, but as of now he neither has the mental tenacity and unwillingness to give up on a loose puck/rebound like Quick, nor has the agility or reaction time of Bernier. He looks more like LaBarbera than anything else if you ask me. And because Jones is starting in Manchester, it tells me that Berube and Gibson probably aren't any closer to LA than MJ. Even if one of these 3 will eventually make the big club, I think we're talking 2-3 years before any of them realistically "deserve" the job.
What do we do in the meantime? Who will be available through trade or free agency? Is it worth it to make a package deal of Bernier + Richardon/Loktionov/any-somewhat-skilled-but-replaceable-player for a veteran backup (that stays sharp even on long stretches on the bench) plus a stronger player than we'd give up? Do we sign a veteran backup and try and get a high pick for Bernier?
Here' a list of potential 2013 UFA goaltenders:
Niklas Backstrom -- 34 years old, definitely did not earned his 6 mil cap hit the last four years. One would imagine they'll let him go to try and retain their upcoming F/D UFA. He made 3.1 mil in his previous contract.
Tim Thomas -- will most likely retire.
Nikolai Khabibulin -- No thanks.
Evgeni Nabokov -- 37 years old, making 2.75 and has expressed he's (surprisingly) happy to be on Long Island. With their lack of G depth and DiPietro being injured all the time, you'd have to imagine he stays for a year or two more.
Jimmy Howard -- 28 years old, making 2.25. You'd have to imagine Detroit brings him back to be Osgood 2.0, cuz Gustavsson is no Vernon/Hasek.
Mike Smith -- Im sure he'll be PHO/someone's starting goalie.
Jose Theodore -- 36, 1.5 cap hit. They'll go with Markstrom soon and will have Clemmensen until 2014 (or maybe Louongo). Theodore will probably become available.
Chris Mason -- 36, 1.5 cap hit. Not the best candidate, not the worst...
Mathieu Garon -- 34, 1.3 cap hit. We're all familiar. Seems like a reliable backup option, and he knows he wont be a #1 anymore.
Jason LaBarbera -- 32, 1.25 cap hit. Has only played 17, 17, 19 games in the last 3 seasons, had decent backup stats. He's probably worn out his welcome here though.
Ray Emery -- 30, 1.15 cap hit. Might be a decent option but Chicago has real goaltending question marks all over the place; they may hold onto him depending if he does much this season. However, if CHI lets him go without improving their G depth, it's probably a bad omen for Emery... Catch-22. Ex-Flyer!
Peter Budaj -- 30, 1.15 cap hit. If Desjardins challenges for the backup role, Budaj could be an option for LA.
Brian Boucher -- 35, .950 cap hit. Reliable and knows his role. Peter's will probably take the backup job soon. Ex-Flyer!
Michael Leighton -- 31 .900 cap hit. Nope............. Ex-Flyer!
Al Montoya -- 27, .601 cap hit. Remember when he was supposed to be the next Richter? He'd be a very last resort, but maybe still better than Leighton or Khabibulin.
Anyways, this post is getting long, and I'd really like to hear other thoughts on what direction our goaltending depth will take from the moment we trade Bernier to years down the line. The lines are open, let's see some ideas!