Los Angeles Kings Sign Goalie Jeff Zatkoff to Two-Year Deal
LA brings back a familiar face to compete with Peter Budaj for the backup job.
The Los Angeles Kings selected goaltender Jonathan Quick with the 72nd overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. A year later, they selected goaltender Jeff Zatkoff with the 74th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. At the time, no one could have predicted that they might be sharing the net a decade later, but that's now a possibility.
Jeff Zatkoff, two years, $900K AAV, to LAK.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2016
Zatkoff was a very, very solid goaltender for the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL for the better part of three seasons, but he had the misfortune of being drafted in the same season as Jonathan Bernier and, of course, the year after Quick. So Zatkoff never got a shot at LA's net, and after celebrating as one of the Black Aces in 2011-12, he moved on to Pittsburgh and their minor-league affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. He was just as good there, and he made his NHL debut in 2013-14.
He was again passed in the pipeline by a majorly hyped prospect (in this case, Matt Murray), but not before getting 35 games in the Penguins' net and posting a .915 save percentage. He also got his moment in the spotlight in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when both Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury were injured; he started twice and won once, performing adequately in a difficult situation for the eventual champs.
As a backup, he's probably right about at the level of Jhonas Enroth, and $300K cheaper to boot. If he can beat out Ontario Reign standout Peter Budaj, he'll finally make his Los Angeles Kings debut at the age of 29, which is really cool. Welcome back Jeff!