One of the more intriguing goalie situations to watch for heading into Seattle’s expansion draft is in Dallas. Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin formed a high-quality tandem in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and would have this season had it not been for Bishop’s knee injury that cost him the entire year. Both goalies require protection from the Kraken and, of course, teams can only protect one.
By default, that spot is currently held by Bishop by virtue of his no-move clause which protects the player from being exposed unless he agrees to waive it. At Friday’s end-of-season media conference, GM Jim Nill told reporters, including NHL.com’s Tracey Myers, that the team has not approached Bishop about potentially waiving it; his comments also suggested that he may not be willing to ask either:
When Ben is healthy, he’s one of the top 3-5 goalies in the league. He’s a guy who can be a difference-maker for you in the playoffs and in winning the Stanley Cup. I think it’s important for him to get back with us. He’s a big part of our team, a big part of our leadership group. He’s a guy who puts us over the top.
Right now, our plan is, let’s see where he’s at here and let’s see where he’s at in July. Right now, he feels very good and he’s on track for being ready for camp, so we’ll play that by ear.
Assuming he is medically cleared by July which, by all accounts, should be the case, he won’t be able to medically exempted from the draft so it certainly seems as if Khudobin will be made available. The 35-year-old posted a 2.54 GAA with a .905 SV% in 32 starts for Dallas this season, his lowest save percentage since 2016-17. However, given the injuries they dealt with plus a schedule that was scrambled up on multiple occasions, a step back is certainly understandable. While he’ll only have one year left on his contract, Khudobin could be an intriguing option for the Kraken in July.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Jake Oettinger, who had a nice rookie season, is exempt. Assuming that Bishop is ready to go next season, it stands to reason that those two would comprise the goaltending tandem which makes it unlikely that they will be willing to give extra compensation to steer Seattle away from Khudobin if that’s the direction they want to go.