NHL Prospect Watch: Los Angeles Kings Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff

Jonathan Bernier has been tagged by every media outlet in Los Angeles as the Kings’ future franchise goaltender. How do you think that makes someone like Jeff Zatkoff feel?

“I just try to worry about myself,” said Zatkoff, goaltender for the Manchester Monarchs of the American League. “I know that if I take care of my business, work hard and play well, then I’m going to get my opportunities, whether it’s with the Kings organization or someone else down the road.”

Franchise goaltender or not, Zatkoff has been turning heads in the hockey world with his play ever since he was drafted in the third round (74th overall) by the Kings in the 2006.

 Having played in the United States League as a youngster, Zatkoff had an urge to attend college, rather than take the often-touted major junior route. Playing for Miami University in Ohio, he put up incredible numbers, with save percentages of .928, .919, and .933 in his three years of college. He had goals against averages of 2.02, 2.26, and 1.72, and in his junior year, he was the star of the team, going 27-8-1 during the season.

After being drafted though, Zatkoff spent some time with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL before being brought up to the AHL late in the 2008-09 season. He started the ’09-10 campaign with a bang, going 8-5 with a .932 SP and a 2.38 GAA for Manchester. Although his numbers leveled out down the stretch, he still finished with a respectable .915 SP and a 2.92 GAA.

“I think his strengths are his patience with the puck, reading releases, and using his big body to stop the puck,” said Los Angeles goaltending coach Bill Ranford. “I think he’s a student of the game, he’s always trying to learn. That’s real important to his game and his development, to continue to learn and just wanting to be better."

Many goaltenders would be discouraged knowing there is so ...

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