2015 Season Review: Jonathan Quick
It's time for Jonathan Quick takes!
Often known as a mercurial goalie, where the highs are very high but the lows are very low, Jonathan Quick turned in a perfectly average season in 2015. Among the 47 NHL goalies who played at least 1000 minutes 5v5, his .9275 5v5 SV% ranked 16th. Being in the middle of the pack among starting goalies is not too bad. You can work with that.
Is it safe to compare save percentage across teams like I just did? Probably. It's likely not true that every team lets in the exact same quality of shot on average, and thus some goalies will be a bit better or worse than their unadjusted 5v5 SV% indicates. But the Kings do not seem to have allowed particularly low or high-quality shots in 2015. The Kings are a good defensive team and suppress shots from high scoring areas, of course, but they suppress shots from low scoring areas about equally as much. So Quick faces about the same percentage of dangerous shots as the average NHL goalie, and SV% treats him fairly.
While we're on the topic of shot location, it's interesting to note that the available data suggests that Quick was particularly good, compared to the average NHL goalie, at stopping long-distance shots, below average at stopping shots from the high slot, and almost exactly average at stopping shots from very close in. This kind of data is highly random from year-to-year, but that's basically the same overall pattern Quick has shown for his whole career; so it's possible this is not just randomness, and there is some kind of stylistic explanation for it. In any case, the result is an average goalie.
Impressively, Quick put up his respectable numbers while facing an extremely heavy workload; he played the most minutes of any NHL goaltender at 5v5 and the second most considering all situations. Quick's back surgery in 2012 and groin strain in 2013 make me worry a bit about his health--those both seem like the kind of injuries that can recur and affect a player long-term. So it was encouraging to see Quick hold up well. In fact, fatigue didn't seem to affect him. Quick's save percentage actually improved in the season's final months.
But is "average" enough from Jonathan Quick, especially given that he carries a $5.8 million cap hit? That cap hit is 10th among NHL goalies, and Quick finished a little worse than that in the SV% rankings. He didn't provide a ton of excess value on his salary; in fact, he really didn't provide any. It is worth noting, though, that of the 11 goalies with a similar cap hit (in the $5-6.5 million range) Quick had probably the third best season (behind only Carey Price and Corey Crawford). There were several disasters in that pay range too, including Cam Ward, Ryan Miller, Kari Lehtonen, and Mike Smith. At the same time, players like Andrew Hammond, Devan Dubnyk, and Cam Talbot provided elite goaltending for practically the NHL minimum.
The 15 players above Jonathan Quick in 5v5 SV% carried an average cap hit of $3.92 million. The 15 players immediately below carried an average cap hit of $3.16 million. There is some relationship between goalie salary and performance, but it's very slight. This is partially just a result of how the NHL's salary structure works (young players make less than they're worth, veterans more, so salaries never match up perfectly with performance), but in the case of goalies randomness is a huge factor too. Investing a lot of money in a goalie, then, is not always the best idea. It may be wiser to invest the money in skaters--whose performance is more predictable--and try to find the next Devan Dubnyk, rather than paying a veteran goalie $6 million for the illusion of security of net.
Quick's increasingly bad temper deserves a mention. He has always had a fiery side, but this year he was regularly smashing his goalie stick in frustration after losses. It's good that Quick cares, and I'd rather he take his anger out on the goalposts than on his teammates. And I don't think this stuff has much impact on how many games the Kings win. Still, I'd prefer to see Kings players keep their cool through adversity. Some people would admire Quick's passion and want to put this in the "positives" section, and that's fair enough. It's a personal preference.
The Kings struggled mightily in the shootout, but that wasn't on Quick. He made shootout saves at a close-to-average rate, but LA shooters provided almost zero support. Here Quick makes an acrobatic stop on Mathieu Perreault.
Quick will carry his $5.8 million cap hit forever for eight more seasons. He was league-average this year and is pretty close to league-average over his career, so that's probably what he projects to be over the next few years. At some point age-related decline will start to creep in.
In other words, he's not a great deal at $5.8 million now, and he's unlikely to be in five years. Unfortunately, the Kings are not likely to trade their starting goaltender. At least he isn't bad, just a bit underwhelming.
Eventually, Martin Jones will price himself out of Los Angeles. But until he does, I'd suggest the Kings take it a little easier on Quick. Quick handled his heavy workload admirably this year, but that doesn't guarantee he'll do so in the future. With a nice backup in place there's no need to risk Quick's health and performance as much as LA has.
In recognition of a respectable but unspectacular performance over a huge number of games, I'll say B. If you wanted give him a C on the basis that he was paid to be an elite goalie and really wasn't one, I would understand.
Grade Jonathan Quick's 2014-15 season.