Generally speaking, extra depth is rarely a bad thing to have. That extra impact forward, carrying more than four top-four defensemen, these are often elements of successful teams. But that same argument doesn’t apply to goaltending as almost all of the time, carrying three is seen as less than ideal and teams will often move their extra option before too long.
San Jose is presently an exception to that idea as they’re carrying three NHL goaltenders in Kaapo Kahkonen, Adin Hill, and James Reimer. All three are on short-term deals (Reimer and Hill have one year left and Kahkonen two) and all three make between $2.1MM and $2.75MM. At least from a contract standpoint, they’re more or less interchangeable.
But Kahkonen was brought in from Minnesota at the trade deadline and then given the two-year deal so it stands to reason that they don’t want to move him. That leaves the 26-year-old Hill and the 34-year-old Reimer as their two trade options with the latter only making $75K more than the former. The Sharks might prefer to keep the younger Hill but his trade value might be better depending on who shows interest.
With that in mind, let’s examine some of the teams that might be interested in adding one of San Jose’s netminders even with most of the goalie movement being done for the summer.
The Coyotes know they don’t have their backup goalie on the roster yet. Karel Vejmelka is unproven as a starter so adding a second netminder that could play close to half the games wouldn’t hurt. Yes, they’re a team with an eye on the future but they can still try to lose competitively. Would they trade for Hill after moving him to San Jose just over a year ago or would they prefer Reimer? If not one of them, they’ll be watching the waiver wire in October.
There isn’t a true opening with Marc-Andre Fleury as the starter and Filip Gustavsson as the backup but Gustavsson is coming off a tough 2021-22 campaign with Ottawa. Playing Fleury heavy minutes would carry some risk so while Gustavsson is the backup of the future, GM Bill Guerin might want to assess if they’d be better off with a more reliable second option even if it forces them to turn around and carry three goalies with Gustavsson now being waiver-eligible.
Back in May, it looked like the Flyers had their goalie situation figured out as they were able to sign highly-touted prospect Ivan Fedotov to partner up with Carter Hart. However, the netminder is now serving in the Russian military which will take him out of the equation. Felix Sandstrom is likely next in line but has just five career NHL appearances under his belt. Philadelphia is looking for more short-term success so adding a more proven backup is something GM Chuck Fletcher will likely be looking into.
Following the season-ending hip surgery for Robin Lehner, GM Kelly McCrimmon came out and said his intention is to go with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit as their tandem. Thompson has shown promise but his NHL experience is limited while Brossoit has been hit and miss in his career. If things don’t go well early on, they could look to turn to San Jose for a chance at an upgrade.
This might seem a little odd considering that they just signed Charlie Lindgren to a three-year deal to be Darcy Kuemper’s backup. But Lindgren’s cap hit is right at the line of being fully buriable in the minors if a better option presents itself. Their LTIR situation with Nicklas Backstrom gives them some extra flexibility to add a short-term deal so if they trust Reimer or Hill over a goalie that has just 29 games of NHL experience and finished up the AHL playoffs as the backup, GM Brian MacLellan will likely check in on what that upgrade would cost.
They added David Rittich as a low-cost backup early in free agency, handing him a one-year, $900K contract. That can be fully buried in the minors if a better option presents itself. The Jets still have considerable cap space at their disposal and are a team with an eye on winning in the present so if they aren’t able to add at other positions, turning around and upgrading Connor Hellebuyck’s backup would be a reasonable backup plan.
Obviously, not all of these teams are going to make a move between the pipes in the coming weeks so the options for GM Mike Grier are going to be limited. If he wants to get top value – the asking price for Reimer is believed to be a second-round pick – he might have to wait until the season starts to see if injuries force someone’s hand. Otherwise, it will be a limited market for whichever one he decides to move. Surplus quality depth at most positions is usually a good thing and could yield a strong return in a trade but for goaltenders, it’s just not the case.