I wrote this as a comment on Jewels from the Crown and then it was pointed out to me that I, in fact, have a blog. Enjoy!
Jonathan Quick signed a 10-year contract, which is... a really fucking long time. 10 years ago the United States was fighting in Afghanistan, and now... wait, fuck. The point is, that's a long fucking time. A lot of shit can happen in 10 years. You'll probably die in the next 10 years, for example. Anyway, thinking about Quick's career for the next 10 years got me thinking about what those years might be like. I decided to see if there were any goaltenders out there who could give me some insight.
There are two guys in the league that I think compare pretty well to Quick: Tomas Vokoun and Miikka Kiprusoff. Both are the same build as Quick, both wouldn't really be classified as prototypical butterfly goaltenders, both have enough of a track record that we can actually look at their numbers. Plus they're the same age so it's easy to compare. Here are their even strength & overall save percentages (in parentheses) for the last nine years, from ages 27 to 35:
27- .923 (.909)
29- .941 (.919)
30- .921 (.902)
31- .927 (.919)
32- .935 (.926)
33- .937 (.925)
34- .919 (.922)
35- .927 (.917)
Avg games played- 53
Seasons above 60 games played- 3
Seasons below- 5
Avg overall save percentage: .920
27- .941 (.933)
29- .941 (.923)
30- .932 (.917)
31- .919 (.906)
32- .907 (.903)
33- .928 (.920)
34- .916 (.906)
35- .928 (.921)
Avg. games played- 69
Seasons above 60 games played- 7
Seasons below- 1 (the first one)
Avg overall save percentage- .915
First thiings first: obviously, Vokoun & Kiprusoff probably represent one of the best possible career trajectories for Quick. Vokoun is probably one of the best (and definitely the most under-appreciated) goaltender since the milennium and Kiprusoff's durability is astounding. The Kings would be lucky if Quick matched either one of their performances in his career.
Vokoun has pretty consistently put up solid numbers his whole career but he’s had a lighter workload and some injury issues (back, thumb, blood clot). Kipprusoff is the opposite; he’s been healthy and able to maintain a heavy workload, but his numbers haven’t been great in some seasons and that’s hurt the Flames.
So, that’s… something. Quick could always end up being better or worse but those are two plausible scenarios for Quick. Of course, he’s had a much heavier workload than both goaltenders before the age of 27 so we don’t know that will affect things.
The key difference between Vokoun & Kipper is that the Predators have consistently been able to develop goaltending talent while the Flames haven’t been able to at all. The Predators were able to trade Vokoun for a 1st rounder and then didn’t miss a beat while they plugged in Pekka Rinne. They could have continued that tradition with Anders Lindback but chose to trade him for a haul instead. (And you could probably say that they would have traded Rinne if not for non-hockey factors.)
Quick is going to have some up years and he's going to have some down years. Percentages are fickle things. I think the thing to keep in mind for Quick isn't that he needs to play well enough to win a Vezina or a Hart every season or anything like that; he just needs to play well enough for the Kings to be able to flip him in a trade if something better comes along. That threshold is generally a lot lower, especially since the Kings will be paying most of the salary part of the contract early.
The most important thing for the Kings (and for any team) is to keep developing goaltending talent all the time. Never ever ever ever stop. Quick signed his deal and it’s a feel good story and everything but if things turn sour they need someone to step in and fill the void. And if things do go well the Kings can probably trade Quick anyway. It’s not economically the best decision to pay goaltenders a bunch of money but it’s not like other teams are running their teams economically anyway. The Kings will find a sucker.