Q&A With Kings Goaltending Prospect Erik Portillo

Introducing goaltender Erik Portillo!

The Kings acquired the rights to Portillo from the Buffalo Sabres earlier this month, in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kings have a pair of third-round picks at their disposal and moved one in exchange for Portillo, who was formerly drafted in the third round himself. Portillo has developed at the University of Michigan and joins the segment of the Kings prospect pool that currently has the least long-term clarity. The Kings have just two goaltenders signed beyond this season – Pheonix Copley and Cal Petersen. Each of their other netminders are either pending UFA’s or RFA’s, meaning the organization has the opportunity to share the pipeline in that area moving forward.

Enter Portillo, who was named to the 2022 All-Big Ten Hockey Second Team. Portillo has a career stat line of 58-21-3 at the NCAA level with the Wolverines, supported by a .918 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average. Standing at 6-6 with a ton of athleticism in his game, Portillo has a lot of tools that can’t be taught. Portillo is unable to sign with the Kings until the conclusion of his NCAA season, but the Kings are excited about his addition to the system and he’s a natural fit in the goaltending pipeline.

Speaking with Chris Peters, formerly of ESPN and currently with Flo Hockey, he believes that Portillo has all of the tools to be successful, including several of the things you can’t teach, such as his size and athletic ability. What Peters believes Portillo needs is the day-to-day habits routine and instruction that only the professional game can bring. The Kings have shown an organizational ability to develop goaltenders in that age range with Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen and hope that Portillo can be the next name in that group to make the jump.

Audio from Portillo’s interview on All The Kings Men below, with a few quotes pulled and transcribed!

On his relationships with Samuel Fagemo, who he was teammates with from a young age
Me and Sammy go way back, we played against each other from we were six years old until we were 13 or 14 when we started playing together in Frolunda. We played at the Academy there at Frolunda for three or four years and I consider him one of my best friends. I heard from him right away and I talked to him right when [the trade] happened. He was super excited and I was super excited to rejoin him.

On his influences as a goaltender
Growing up and playing for Frolunda, coming from that system, Henrik Lundqvist was always my goalie inspiration. Now, when I’m further along in my career, I’m looking at guys like Vasilevskiy, Markstrom, Demko, the bigger goalies in NHL that are really successful. I’m trying to take pieces out of their games, but I also look at guys like Shesterkin, guys that maybe don’t have the same size as me, because usually those guys are very technically proven, so I try to take stuff from their games as well.

On working out in the summer with Kevin Fiala and other NHL players
Kevin Fiala and I actually work out a lot in the summers together, we work with the same coach, so he’s been shooting a lot on me over the last couple of summers and I know him pretty well. [Lucas Raymond] is in the same training group there as well.

On why he chose to play at the University of Michigan
I think it started off with, to be honest, I started looking at Boston schools because I came from Sweden and I didn’t really know a lot about college and I’d heard that Boston schools are very good, so I was over there a couple of times. Then my agent told me to go over there and check Michigan out and just the feel from the beginning felt really good. I learned about all the culture and everything, but I think for me personally, from the beginning, it was more about the feeling and just how all of the coaches treated me and how the people and the players who had been here before treated me when I was there. All that played in when I chose Michigan.

Portillo and the University of Michigan begin their quest for a national championship tomorrow afternoon, as they take on Colgate University tomorrow at 5:30 PM, in Allentown, PA at the home of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. That game is available on ESPNU and ESPN+.

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