Teams such as the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are all rumoured to be in the market for an upgrade in goal for the 2015-16.
With the likes of the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks carrying more than their share of potential No. 1 goaltenders, it’s likely we could see a trade or two heading into the off-season.
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Elliotte Friedman joined Sportsnet Radio 960 Friday to talk the current state of NHL goaltending, noting several teams that could fuel the trade market this summer.
Here’s a look at six teams that could look to move a goaltender this off-season.
The Ducks got decidedly league-average goaltending out of the tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in 2014-15. Andersen took the reigns as the No. 1 guy in the post-season, and Friedman believes Ducks GM Bob Murray could receive calls on Gibson’s availability as a result.
Andersen was good, not great, with a .914 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average in 16 post-season games.
The Ducks have both goaltenders signed through next season.
Off-season outlook: Andersen is 25 years old and Gibson is just 21. With both men under team control beyond 2016, it’s probably best for Murray and Co. to play the wait and see game.
It’s tough to see a team viewing Gibson as their potential ‘goaltender of the future’ with so little experience. It’s equally hard to believe they’d trade such a young talent right now.
“I’m not convinced that either Ramo or Hiller is 100 percent coming back next year – that maybe Calgary has a new goalie in net,” said Friedman on Sportsnet 960 Friday.
Ramo and Hiller were a fairly effective tandem last season, keeping the Flames in many games they had no business being in. Asking for a repeat performance on a Flames team that was heavily outshot on a nightly basis may be a task too tall for this tandem.
Off-season outlook: The Flames could certainly improve their defence this off-season, which would be welcomed by its goaltenders. Ramo is set to become an unrestricted free agent, while Hiller has one year left on his current deal at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Unless a team like the St. Louis Blues sees Hiller as the answer to their own problems in net, it appears likely he’ll be back in Calgary next season.
A 1a-1b program worked well for the Flames this season, so if Ramo hits the market in search of a new opportunity then look for GM Brad Treliving to bring in another goaltender who can handle semi-regular duty.
The Dallas Stars were one of the league’s more disappointing teams this season. After a busy off-season that saw them bring Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky into the fold, the Stars missed the playoffs with a 41-31-10 in the competitive Central Division.
Kari Lehtonen’s 2.94 goals-against average and .903 save percentage left a lot to be desired. Friedman believes he could be had at a discount.
Off-season outlook: Lehtonen has three years left on his contract at a hefty cap hit of $5.9 million annually. He was well below league average last season, but he’s been slightly above the median for his career. Unless another team sees him as a candidate to bounce back in a big way then expect to see Lehtonen back in Texas for 2015-16.
At a Thursday press conference, Bryan Murray said seven teams have contacted him about the availability of his goaltenders.
Unless the Senators plan to convert one or two of Craig Anderson, Andrew Hammond, Robin Lehner or Matt O’Connor into a position player then it’s likely someone gets dealt this summer.
Lehner has garnered the most attention from other general managers, according to Murray. O’Connor has been pegged for No. 1 duties in the AHL for 2015-16.
Off-season outlook: Anderson is signed through the 2018 season with an annual cap hit of $4.2 million, and Lehner has two more years left on his current deal. With the ink still drying on Hammond’s new three-year deal, it’s simply going to come down to who gets Murray the return he seeks. The GM has said he wants to win now.
What’s an off-season with a Vancouver Canucks goaltending controversy?
Ryan Miller was pegged to be the No.1 guy after he was handed a three-year, $18 million deal last summer. The emergence of Eddie Lack and lingering questions about Jacob Markstrom’s viability as an NHL goaltender have dampened Miller’s status on the West Coast.
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“Vancouver’s got an extra goalie,” Friedman said Friday. “They’ve got to make a decision on Markstrom. They think he can play in the NHL. So maybe next year their team is Miller and Markstrom and Eddie Lack goes and plays somewhere else.”
Off-season outlook: Controversy. Always controversy.
Ondrej Pavelec finally appeared to be the No. 1 goaltender he was paid to be for the Jets this season. The 6-foot-3 Czech netminder went from perennial sieve to a guy sporting a .920 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average, both career-best marks.
Playing behind one of the league’s stingiest defences will do that.
Pavelec has two more seasons at $3.9 million left on his deal. If the Jets want to sell high on him then now is about as high as his stock will get.
Off-season outlook: With Michael Hutchinson’s adequate play as a rookie last year and Connor Hellebuyck’s great play at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, the Jets could certainly take their chances with a young, cheap tandem next season. Of course, that requires someone plucking Pavelec away.
This raises an important question. Is there a team that’s buying Pavelec’s 2014-15 season as the real deal?
Salary cap data via generalfanager.com