As much as he likes the Los Angeles Kings, Robbie Rogers didn’t grow up a hockey fan.
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“I was joking with some of the players that my experience with hockey was watching ‘The Mighty Ducks’ when I was younger,” said Rogers, who plays for the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer. “My brother and I played street hockey … but I met a bunch of these guys when we won the championship and they won the championship and we all went to the White House to meet [President] Obama, and I was really impressed with so many of their China jerseys.”
That was in 2015, when Rogers and the Galaxy, along with the Kings were honored together by the president. The Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2014, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup.
It was a significant celebration, because Rogers was the first openly gay man to compete in a major professional sport; he came out in 2012.
On Thursday, Rogers was a major participant with the Kings and their Pride Night festivities, part of the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone initiative. The celebration took place before and during the Kings’ 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center on Thursday.
Rogers dropped the ceremonial first puck between Kings captain Anze Kopitar and Coyotes captain Shane Doan. After that, Rogers interacted with fans, posed for photos, signed autographs and spoke to a group of students.
With Quick back in the fold and Bishop added to the mix, the Kings may have the strongest time-share tandem in the League. Bishop and Quick finished first (seventh overall) and sixth (38th overall) respectively among goalies in Yahoo’s performance-based rankings last season. It has been a far different tale this season though, with Quick (93 percent owned) playing Saturday for the first time since opening night because of a groin injury. Bishop (93 percent owned) missed time in late December and early January because of a lower-body injury and shared starts (31) with Andrei Vasilevskiy (29) prior to the trade.
Bishop, who was tied for third in the League in wins from 2014-15 to 2015-16 (75 in 123 games), has outperformed Vasilevskiy but failed to meet high fantasy expectations. Bishop has a respectable record (16-12-3) with a 2.55 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout, but is 215th in Yahoo after being drafted on average with the 16th overall pick (second among goalies).
Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings and elite fantasy goalie since 2009-10, remains their No. 1 goalie in the short and long term. But Bishop has been brought in not only for insurance, but for short-term help with the Kings outside of Stanley Cup Playoff position with 21 games to go. Each should be owned in all fantasy formats.
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Budaj (71 percent owned), meanwhile, stepped in for the injured Quick and outperformed even the highest fantasy expectations anyone could have envisioned behind a stout Kings defense. The 34-year-old is 27-20-3 with a 2.12 GAA, .917 SV% and tied for the NHL lead with seven shutouts. As of Sunday, Budaj was 21st overall in Yahoo’s performance-based rankings, third among goalies behind Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk.
It was inevitable Budaj’s start volume would eventually dip upon Quick’s return, but this trade is likely to hurt his fantasy value more than if he remained with Los Angeles. Bishop’s departure opens the door for the 22-year-old Vasilevskiy (42 percent owned) to become Tampa Bay’s full-time starter. The Lightning are also currently outside of the postseason picture with 22 games remaining.
After a 6-1-1 start with a .951 SV% and two shutouts, Vasilevskiy is 5-12-4 with an .893 SV% and no shutouts since Nov. 29. With Bishop out of the picture and Budaj’s contract ending after this season, Vasilevskiy is a must-have player in most keeper leagues. That said, don’t drop Budaj in case Vasilevskiy falters in the final six weeks of the season — a possible scenario if the Lightning fall out of contention.
Quick’s return comes sooner than had been expected. He first returned to practice in full gear on Feb. 2, and recent projections had been for him to return to game action with NHL jerseys in early March.
This has been the longest injury layoff during a season in Quick’s career. He had back surgery in the summer following the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship in 2012 and missed nearly two months during the 2013-14 season with a groin injury.
Forward Jordan Nolan was also activated off injured reserve.
Additionally, goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was sent to Ontario of the American Hockey League. In 13 games with the Kings, Zatkoff was 2-7-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
Zatkoff’s most recent start was in a 3-2 loss at the New York Rangers on Jan. 23. He played in the third period of a 5-0 loss at the Washington Capitals on Feb. 5. Since then, Peter Budaj has started seven consecutive games for Los Angeles.
Budaj has appeared in 53 games and is 27-20-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He is tied with Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby for the NHL lead in shutouts with seven.