|With the start that Jonathan Bernier has had, seeing him in a Kings uniform sooner rather than later is a definite possibility.
Welcome to the Los Angeles Kings Prospect Update, a weekly feature highlighting prospects in the Los Angeles Kings system.
The Kings currently own the league rights of 47 players outside of the NHL, including Professional players in Europe, Junior players and players in college. Click here to see the 2009-10 LA Kings Prospect Roster.
This week we are highlighting both goalies of the Manchester Monarchs, Jonathan Bernier and Jeff Zatkoff. Both goaltenders have gotten off to tremendous starts with the Monarchs, who sit in first place in the Atlantic Division with 14 points (7-2).
"I think that they're a big part of the success Manchester has had so far this season," Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford said. "They've played very well in every start they've had and they're doing their job of keeping pucks out of the net."
Bernier, the Kings first round pick (11th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, has a 5-1-0 record in six games with a 1.34 goals against average and a .963 saves percentage. The 21-year old Canadian has also posted two shutouts so far this season.
However, Bernier is currently nursing an injured wrist. According to LAKings.coms Rich Hammond, an MRI on Bernier's wrist was negative and he is expected to return to action this weekend.
During the 2007-08 season, Bernier played in four games with the Kings, posting a 1-3-0 record, a 4.03 goals against average, and a saves percentage of .864.
Last season, Bernier played in 54 games with the Monarchs, finishing the season with a 23-24-4 record, a 2.40 goals against average, and 1,311 saves.
In the preseason Bernier played in three games, posting a 2-1-0 record and a 2.80 goals against average while making 59 saves.
"At some point we'd like to see him with the big club, if not later this year then certainly next season," said Ranford, who also mentioned that he would like Bernier to improve on his consistency, but noted that "He's been doing a good job of that so far this year."
The other goaltender for the Monarchs is Zatkoff, a third round (74th overall) draft pick of the Kings in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
In three games for the Monarchs this season, Zatkoff has a 2-1-0 record with a mere 0.67 goals against average and a tremendous .978 saves percentage.
The 22-year old Detroit native is in his second season with the Monarchs. Last season Zatkoff played in just three games all season, finishing with a 1-2-0 record, a 2.31 goals against average and a .918 saves percentage. Prior to his time with the Monarchs, Zatkoff played one season with the Ontario Reign and three years at Miami University (Ohio).
On what Zatkoff needs to improve on, Ranford said, "Learning to be an everyday goaltender in the AHL. He spent a large part of last season in the Eastern League and now he's up a level and needs to prove himself."
In the preseason, played in just one game for 19:21 for the Kings. In that time, Zatkoff allowed two goals and made 14 saves.
"We're extremely excited about the start both of them have had to the season," said Nelson Emerson, Los Angeles Kings Director of Player Development. "Both are a year older and ready to take a step forward. They're growing up as pros. Their play gives confidence to the rest of the team and make the team play better."