With Carolina re-signing Cam Ward earlier today, one of the top goalies was taken off the UFA market. That’s not the best of news for the Calgary Flames who are looking to rebuild their goaltending tandem after Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, and Joni Ortio all struggled last season.
With Ward off the market, the only two remaining free agents that have spent some time as a starting netminder in recent years are San Jose’s James Reimer and Ramo, both of whom have struggled at times when given a greater workload.
Accordingly, a trade may be the way to go for Calgary to get their starting goalie. Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun believes that Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury could be a solution for the Flames and reports that GM Brad Treliving has been in contact with his Penguins counterpart Jim Rutherford regarding the 31 year old.
Fleury could be deemed expendable following Matt Murray’s strong efforts en route to Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victory and trading him would also free up some much-needed cap space for the Penguins, who currently have just shy of $74MM in contracts for next season. With the ability to only protect one goalie in an expansion draft, the Penguins may have some motivation to do something this offseason over risking losing one for nothing next June. Fleury carries a cap hit of $5.75MM for each of the next three season but does, however, have a no-move and partial no-trade clause which could make a trade more difficult.
There’s no denying that Fleury would represent an upgrade between the pipes for the Flames. Last year, Calgary’s goaltenders combined for a league-worst save percentage of just .892. By comparison, Fleury has posted at least a .913 SV% in each of the last six seasons and recorded a 2.29 GAA and a .921 SV% last season.
If the Flames and Penguins can’t reach a deal though, there could be other goalies available this offseason. Here are a trio that could be on the trade block for various reasons:
- Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay): Andrei Vasilevskiy is viewed as the goalie-in-waiting for the Lightning and he certainly more than held his own in the postseason. Bishop has one year left on his deal and GM Steve Yzerman may want to get something for Bishop now and hand the goaltending reins to the young Russian.
- Frederik Andersen (Anaheim): Andersen is a restricted free agent this offseason and is just one year away from UFA eligibility. He has been the starter for the Ducks for each of the past two years but saw his job usurped at times by John Gibson. Gibson is widely viewed as their goalie of the future and accordingly, it’s expected that Anaheim will likely move Andersen at some point this offseason.
- Jimmy Howard (Detroit): Howard played in a career-low 38 games last year as he lost his #1 job to Petr Mrazek (an RFA this offseason). He has three years left on his contract with a cap hit just below $5.3MM which is too pricey for a backup or platoon goalie. As a result, they could be a motivated seller and Howard would give the Flames an upgrade over what they had last season.
This is not the year to rebuild a goalie tandem through the free agent market which means it’s likely that Treliving will have to resort to the trade route to shore up that position at least once this offseason.