With the NHL’s Christmas roster freeze set to take effect, trade speculation around the league has been heating up.
Ryan Johansen’s name is out there as a player potentially on the move and the future of pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos is up in the air, but there is also plenty of trade speculation revolving around goalies.
Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, who is without starter Mike Smith for up to 10 weeks, recently said he has identified nine teams willing to part with a goalie.
“We are looking. If there’s a way to get a top-end goaltender that’s a long-term value to the franchise, we’re willing to pay up an asset for that,” Maloney told Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic. “What I’m not going to do is pay a good asset for the next three months. I’m not going to do that. You can’t have success without strong goaltending. We all know it, and we have to pay more attention to it.”
One thing NHL GMs have proven in 2015 is a willingness to trade netminders. There there is a dearth of true No. 1 talents but many teams have pulled the trigger on deals hoping to find a diamond in the rough. This past off-season alone notable goalies Antti Niemi, Martin Jones, Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot, Eddie Lack, Antti Raanta, Anton Khodobin and Anders Nilsson were all traded and several more could be moved before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
With that in mind, here are seven goalies we think could potentially be traded this season.
Bernier’s struggles have been well documented. The 27-year-old is winless in 11 games with the Leafs this season posting a 0-8-3 record and putting up a hugely disappointing 3.46 goals-against average and .883 save percentage. With a salary cap hit of $4.15 million, this is the last thing the Leafs expected from him.
He is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017, but his time with the Leafs could end before then.
Jonas Hiller / Karri Ramo
Speaking of the Flames, they’ve got two goalies under contract that are candidates to be dealt. Hiller and Ramo are pending UFAs and keeping both of them for the remainder of the season doesn’t benefit the Flames long-term. Calgary is allowing a league-worst 3.35 goals per game, although the seven-game winning streak they’re on suggests the situation in net isn’t as dire as it was a month ago. Still, it could be better.
Ramo is on a hot streak of late, starting December 5-0, so if the Flames feel like he has done enough to earn an extension it would likely get done before the trade deadline. Hiller, on the other hand, is four years older than Ramo and not performing as well. Hiller has a cap hit of $4.5 million while Ramo is at $3.8 million.
In order to acquire a player with a mid-range cap hit, especially another goalie, the Flames would have to give back salary in return — the NHL trade market is as much about balancing budgets as it is about acquiring talent these days — and both of these netminders have the type of contract that would be easy include in that type of deal.
For example, if a potential Bernier-to-Flames trade were to go through the Leafs would in all likelihood have to take back Hiller’s contract to pull it off.
The Carolina Hurricanes are still in rebuild mode and they need to make decisions on a number of veterans. First and foremost is Eric Staal, but Ward is another interesting situation. The 2006 Conn Smythe winner could be of use to a playoff team in need of goaltending depth. His $6.3-million cap hit won’t be easy to move – he and Staal also have no-trade clauses — but the fact he’s a pending UFA makes him a prime candidate to be a rental player.
Would the Oilers consider trading a player they gave up three draft picks to acquire in the summer? He’s another pending free agent and his $1.45-million cap hit is more than affordable. Talbot, 28, hasn’t done anything to show management he’s the goalie of the future in Edmonton while his teammate, 25-year-old Anders Nilsson, has started more games and out-performed him. The Oilers also have Ben Scrivens and Laurent Brossoit in their system so they can afford to part ways with Talbot.
As soon as Carey Price returns to the lineup, Tokarski will likely be the odd man out in Montreal and sent back to the AHL. Mike Condon replaced him as Price’s backup prior to the season and it puts Tokarski, 26, in a tough position. Tokarski, a Memorial Cup champ, Calder Cup champ and world junior gold medallist with Team Canada, hasn’t reached his potential yet and is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Condon, meanwhile, is under contract through the 2016-17 campaign.
The Habs also have Zachary Fucale waiting in the wings and they’ll want to see what he can develop into. He’s 8-3-2 with the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL this season, which is impressive for a 20-year-old.
Minnesota Wild beat writer Michael Russo reported that it seems likely the Wild will consider trading the 25-year-old Saskatoon native. Kuemper is 3-0-4 with a .922 save percentage and 2.29 GAA in eight appearances this season.
With Devan Dubnyk locked up until 2021 (at $4.333 million per year) it might be difficult to keep Kuemper. The RFA will be due a raise in the summer.