Goalie market at trade deadline: Who’s buying? Who’s selling?

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman talks about lack of interest around NHL for a goalie, saying, "My options were to make this deal with L.A. or sit tight the rest of the season".

Upon dealing two-time Vezina finalist Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said, “My options were to make this deal with L.A. or sit tight the rest of the season.”

Don’t misconstrue that to mean the Kings were the only team looking to upgrade their goaltending. Bishop’s no-trade clause allowed him to rule out some interested teams.

As we near Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline, plenty of goaltenders could be for sale and several teams would be wise to upgrade the most critical position in sports.

Here’s a look at the goaltending market.


Which goalies are available?

Tons. What are you looking for?

The most familiar and interesting name, hands down, is Marc-Andre Fleury. The 32-year-old still has two more seasons on his contract at a $5.75-million cap hit and can nix a trade to 12 teams.

Downgraded from starter to backup in Pittsburgh, Fleury will not be part of the Penguins’ future beyond this spring, with 22-year-old rookie Matt Murray already taking over the reins and prospect Tristan Jarry shining in AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (.920 save percentage).

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford told Hockey Central at Noon Friday that Fleury wants more starts and the parties would meet early this week to discuss a deadline plan. At that point, Fleury had not yet formally requested a trade, but he has been linked in rumours to Calgary.

He’s still one of the 30 best goaltenders in the NHL, but Rutherford could take a look in L.A.’s direction and see value in keeping two top-tier goaltenders for his Stanley Cup defence. The Penguins are all-in again.

The New York Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak has been on the market for months, and he’s now buried in the minors. Pro-rate his hefty $4.75-million cap hit, and a deal becomes more palatable, especially if the Isles are willing to retain salary.

Halak was awesome as recently as the World Cup — a .941 save percentage for runner-up Team Europe — and has quietly excelled for AHL Bridgeport (.936 save percentage in 18 games).

He will command $5 million in actual salary next season, so he’s not a pure rental. There are, however, two teams with no NHL-proven goaltenders under contract for 2017-18: Calgary and Philadelphia. The latter may wish to take a swing at Bishop, who is set to be the most valuable UFA goalie on July 1.

The Oilers, Flames and Bruins have all been rumoured to be interested in a Halak deal as recently as Tuesday. He’s the most likely goaltender to be moved.

Vancouver’s Ryan Miller is an impending UFA, and if Monday’s Alex Burrows trade is any indication, the Canucks have embraced the sell.

Miller has performed admirably behind a mediocre blue line (.916 save percentage) but, like Burrows, holds some trade protection. It was reported in Vancouver Tuesday that Miller would not co-sign a move to the Flames or Oilers. With a $6-million cap hit, expect Vancouver to retain some salary if they can find a buyer.

The Philadelphia Flyers should be selling Wednesday, and they have two rental goalies to offer up at different price ranges. Steve Mason ($4.1 million cap hit) or Michal Neuvirth ($1.625 million) would be a fine backup on a playoff team.

A cheap backup option? Buffalo’s Anders Nilsson, who is only 26 and carries a $1 million cap hit. Nilsson has quietly enjoyed a nice bounce-back season. The onetime Oiler has a 9-8-4 record and a .921 save percentage on a bad team. The Sabres have Linus Ullmark, 23, coming behind him and need to re-sign Robin Lehner.

Of note: Ullmark — not Nilsson — was given the start for Buffalo Tuesday night, suggesting they would like to keep him healthy.

Over in Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets are set with No. 1 Sergei Bobrovsky, but they have two intriguing net prospects in RFAs-to-be Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg. Moving a young stud is not necessary this week, but one of them could be useful in a long-term-thinking move that lands Columbus a significant piece.

A long shot: Detroit is officially a seller. Does Ken Holland try to move Petr Mrzaek ($4 million cap hit through 2017-18) with cheaper 25-year-old Jared Coreau on the come-up?

Which teams are buying?

OK. Let’s take a peek at who might want these fine netiminders.

With the Kings upping the backup ante in the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers may want someone more trustworthy than 23-year-old Laurent Brossoit (10 career NHL appearances) backing up Cam Talbot.

The San Jose Sharks have gotten solid play from rookie Aaron Dell (7-3-1, .934 save percentage) but may wish to bring on a veteran to support Martin Jones. Remember, GM Doug Wilson rented James Reimer for security at this time last season.

As mentioned, the Calgary Flames don’t have a goalie signed for 2017-18. They’ve expressed interest in Fleury and Bishop, and they have the 23rd-best team save percentage. Not good enough.

The St. Louis Blues (28th in save percentage) and Dallas Stars (30th in save percentage) are sellers, but do they trust their current goaltending setups for next season? Less urgency here, but this might need to be addressed some time before fall.

The Winnipeg Jets are still committed to 23-year-old Connor Hellebuyck, who is an RFA this off-season, and have 21-year-old Adam Comrie playing well in the AHL. They’re the most confounding Canadian team at this year’s deadline, right on the edge of being a buyer or a seller. Could they be in play for a goaltender who is signed beyond this season, so that they don’t have to worry about beginning next year with a couple of early-20s goalies again? It didn’t work so well this season.

The Colorado Avalanche and Semyon Varlamov have lost faith in one another. Joe Sakic will look to bolster his goaltending via youth as he tries to trade established roster players.

With the Atlantic Division wide open, expect the Boston Bruins to pick up some short-term support for all-star Tuukka Rask, who has 29 of the club’s 32 victories this season. No one else can stop a puck.

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