Kings acquire rights to goaltender Erik Portillo in exchange for 2023 third-round draft pick

Another Trade, Insiders!

The LA Kings have bolstered the goaltending pipeline for the future, with the acquisition of the rights to goaltending prospect Erik Portillo from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2023 third-round draft selection.

Portillo is a 22-year-old goaltender from the Univesity of Michigan who was selected by the Sabres in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported earlier this year that Portillo and the Sabres were unlikely to agree to terms on an entry-level contract and the Wolverines junior would have been eligible to sign with any NHL organization come the summer, being four years removed from being drafted. The Sabres recoup their investment from 2019, while the Kings add an exciting young goaltender to the pipeline, at a good time for how organizational contracts shake out at that position.

Instant Analysis
Looking forward, the Kings have just two goaltenders under NHL contracts for next season – Cal Petersen, who has two years remaining, and Pheonix Copley, who recently signed a one-year contract extension for the 2023-24 season. The recently added Joonas Korpisalo is an unrestricted free agent, while David Hrenak, Jacob Ingham and Matthew Villalta are RFA’s. Portillo is still playing collegiate hockey, meaning he is not able to sign an entry-level contract with the Kings until his season with the Wolverines comes to a close. Michigan is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, so assuming the sides agree to terms after the season, he would likely be more of a look for next year than this.

Portillo fills what could be conceived as a bit of a hole in the pipeline. The Kings, as noted, see each of the goaltenders in the pipeline have expiring contracts at the end of the season, meaning they have a lot of flexibility with what to do moving forward. The circumstances are actually somewhat similar to when the Kings snagged Petersen out of the University of Notre Dame back in 2017. An area for improvement and a low cost to acquire it. Petersen was free, as an unrestricted free agent, but the third-round pick traded here is one of two the Kings have in the 2023 NHL Draft, with the Kings holding an extra pick from the Jeff Carter trade. With a huge frame, standing at 6-6, and very strong numbers at the collegiate level, Portillo is an interesting add for the organization with an eye on the future.

From the team’s official release –

Portillo, 22, is in the midst of his junior year with the University of Michigan where he’s posted a 19-10-2 record with a 3.01 goals-against average (GAA) and a .908 save percentage (SV%) in 31 NCAA games. His 19 wins are the second-most among Big-10 goaltenders and seventh among all NCAA netminders.

As a sophomore last year, the 6-6, 220-pound goaltender led the nation in saves (1,111) while ranking second in wins (31) and minutes played (2499:13), fourth in win percentage (.750) and ninth in save percentage (.926) enroute to a Big-10 Championship. His 31-10-1 record with a 2.14 GAA and .926 SV% earned him Big-10 Second All-Star Team honors, as well as nominations for both the Mike Richter Award and Big-10 Goaltender of the Year. In three NCAA seasons with the Wolverines, Portillo has amassed a record of 54-21-3 with three shutouts, a 2.45 GAA and a .919 SV%.

Originally drafted by Buffalo in the third round (67th overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft, Portillo began his North American career in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2019-20, where he earned USHL Goaltender of the Year and First All-Star Team honors after registering a 19-5-1 record and one shutout with a 2.11 GAA and a .915 SV%. The Gothenburg, Sweden native represented his native country at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, helping Sweden to a bronze medal.

Insiders, we’ll finish the day with takeaways from Rob Blake’s press conference earlier in the day. Want to give that the attention it’s due and it’s been a busy one thus far. Also a reaction podcast coming out, where we were joined by Jeff Svoboda of the Blue Jackets who had some nice things to say about Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Koprisalo. More to follow!

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