With many teams hovering around the 30 games played mark, they’ve had a good chance to assess their goaltending situation. While starters moving at this point of the season is rare, there could be some opportunities for teams to change their backups in an effort to shore up their rosters. Here’s a look at who could be on the market for a new number two and who may have a goalie to spare.
On The Lookout
Florida: Sergei Bobrovsky has been inconsistent all season and Samuel Montembeault hasn’t fared any better which is why he’s now in the minors. Chris Driedger had quite the NHL debut but relying on him to hold down the backup job the rest of the way would be risky for a team that added considerably this summer with the expectation of a big postseason push.
Montreal: The Canadiens brought in Keith Kinkaid to try to provide some stability behind Carey Price but instead, he finds himself in the minors after recently clearing waivers. It’s telling that Charlie Lindgren, once viewed as the backup of the future, didn’t get the nod and instead, they’re going with 20-year-old Cayden Primeau. From a development perspective, that’s not ideal so if Kinkaid doesn’t rediscover his form in the AHL quickly, they will likely be looking at other options.
New Jersey: With Cory Schneider struggling and now finding himself in the minors, the Devils are using a very inexperienced tandem in Mackenzie Blackwood and Louis Domingue. If they have any hopes of making a push in the second half, a more proven option will be needed. However, if they’ve reached the point that they’re for sure going to sell though, they could ride things out with these two.
San Jose: Aaron Dell has two good years under his belt while last year was a bad one. This season hasn’t been much better as his 3.32 GAA is the worst of his career while his save percentage is just .893, well below average. Martin Jones isn’t getting the job done consistently either so the Sharks may be looking for someone that can play more than just 20-25 games but their salary cap situation will make that tricky.
Toronto: Michael Hutchinson has shown that he can hold his own as a backup at times in the past but that hasn’t been the case this season. He has struggled to the tune of a 4.55 GAA and a .876 SV% while also clearing waivers. One challenge that the Maple Leafs will face though is that they can’t really afford someone making much more than the $700K he’s receiving which will limit their options somewhat.
Potential Trade Targets
Craig Anderson (Ottawa) – At 38, this is likely Anderson’s final season and he’s spending it in a platoon situation. The Senators have several young netminders that they’d likely want to give a look to in the NHL to the point where it may make some sense for them to pay down some of his $4.75MM cap hit. He was placed on IR today but is only expected to miss a week.
Eric Comrie (Detroit) – We know what his trade value is considering that the Red Wings just acquired him for a third-year AHL defenseman. When Jimmy Howard returns from injury, Comrie will be back to third-string status and be back in that ‘too good to waive’ bubble. With a $700K cap hit for the next two years, he’s an affordable option for cap-strapped teams.
Pheonix Copley (Washington) – While he was the backup for the Capitals last season, Copley has been a regular with AHL Hershey this year with Ilya Samsonov moving up. While it’s possible that the Caps could view Copley as a backup for Samsonov next season (Braden Holtby will be a UFA), their cap situation could force them to look for a cheaper option in which case, moving Copley and his $1.1MM cap hit now may be the better move.
Casey DeSmith (Pittsburgh) – Like Copley, DeSmith has gone from the second-string option a year ago to the third-string option and it certainly doesn’t look like Tristan Jarry is going anywhere now as he pushes to cut into Matt Murray’s playing time. Also like Copley, he is signed for two more years after this one which will allow him to be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft.
Anton Forsberg (Carolina) – Forsberg was a full-fledged NHL backup just two years ago when he got into 35 games with Chicago but since then, he has strictly played in the minors. He’s in a platoon situation with Alex Nedeljkovic which isn’t an ideal situation for someone that’s on a one-way contract (albeit at just $775K). He’s another option for capped-out teams.
Alexandar Georgiev (NY Rangers) – New York doesn’t have to move Georgiev but if they want a spot for Igor Shesterkin to play in the NHL next season (or sooner), Georgiev would appear to be the odd one out if they don’t want to carry three netminders. Given his upside, the price tag would be higher than anyone else on this list but if there’s a team that thinks he has starting potential, it’s one they may be willing to pay. Georgiev is three appearances away from becoming waiver-eligible.
Alex Lyon (Philadelphia) – Lyon has been splitting time with veteran Jean-Francois Berube (who could also appear on this list) and as a result, the Flyers have a pair of quality prospects that are stuck battling for ice time in the ECHL. Clearing up that logjam is something that GM Chuck Fletcher would probably like to do.
Garret Sparks (Vegas) – Sparks is also in a platoon just a year after being the backup in Toronto for most of last season. He has been one of the stronger goalies at the AHL level but with Oscar Dansk and Dylan Ferguson also in the system, they likely wouldn’t stand in the way of moving him for a draft pick or prospect.
With the holiday roster freeze quickly approaching (it comes into effect next Thursday), it’s certainly possible that some teams may look to make a goalie change before then and if that happens, there’s a good chance that one of these netminders will be the one on the move.