The trades are coming! The trades are coming!
Thursday’s Viktor Arvidsson swap promises to be the first of many as teams position themselves for the July 21st expansion draft.
Essentially, Nashville, instead of losing the skilled Arvidsson for nothing to the Seattle Kraken, sent the winger to Los Angeles for 2021 second-round and 2022 third-round picks. The Predators aren’t going to be the only team that chooses to sell low on an asset instead of losing it to Seattle.
Could the San Jose Sharks make like the Kings and undercut the Kraken too?
In April, Doug Wilson stated that San Jose would be looking to improve themselves at third-line center and in goal.
He added: “We are in a really good position to get through expansion, not only get through it, but also use it as an opportunity to potentially add some players that other teams might have to make available.”
The Sharks could also boast some serious cap space if they buy out Martin Jones — I project about $10 million dollars space for a center and two goalies.
So who are some potential third-line centers and starting goalies that might be available via trade before the expansion draft?
We looked at pivots on Saturday, let’s look at netminders today.
Keep in mind: Some of the activity around goalies may wait until after the expansion draft. For example, Vancouver has just two goalies who meet draft requirements, Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby. They’re likely to keep both through the expansion draft — they’ll protect Demko and expose Holtby — then hope to rid themselves of Holtby after July 21st.
Cam Talbot is signed for two more years with a $3.67 million cap hit.
Between the 33-year-old Talbot and the 24-year-old Kaapo Kahkonen, the Wild have a hard choice to make. On one hand, Talbot outperformed Kahkonen in the regular season and was Minnesota’s starter through the playoffs. On the other hand, Kahkonen is nine years younger and signed to a near-minimum contract.
Talbot could be the cream of this crop. He also was Edmonton’s starter from 2015-18, so he’s got No. 1 experience.
Anton Khudobin is signed for two more years with a $3.33 million cap hit.
The 35-year-old netminder slumped after a solid 2017-20 run that culminated with a starring role in the Stars’ 2020 Stanley Cup Final run. Dallas, with Jake Oettinger in the wings, would love to get Khudobin’s contract off the books.
Khudobin does have a close relationship with San Jose Sharks goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov. Question is, did the 35-year-old peak in 2020?
Jake Allen is signed for two more years with a $2.875 million cap hit.
The 30-year-old was decent as Carey Price’s back-up, outperforming Price at times. Montreal would probably like to keep him, even though he’s an expensive insurance policy for the 10-million dollar man Price.
Allen was St. Louis’s starter from 2015-19 before he was supplanted by Jordan Binnington.
Braden Holtby is signed for one more year with a $4.3 million cap hit.
The 31-year-old suffered his second consecutive down campaign this season, losing the starter’s net to Thatcher Demko. To get rid of Holtby’s contract in full, Vancouver would probably add a significant sweetener.
The 2016 Vezina winner and 2018 Stanley Cup champion has an unassailable resume, and he’s not that old for a goalie. If the Canucks were willing to retain on Holtby, he’s not the worst gamble. For what it’s worth, Holtby and San Jose Sharks goaltending development coach Dany Sabourin were teammates with the Hershey Bears from 2010-13.
Joonas Korpisalo is signed for one more year with a $2.8 million cap hit.
Columbus should protect the 27-year-old Korpisalo; Elvis Merzlikins is actually exempt from the expansion draft. But they could break up the Korpisalo-Merzlikins duo this summer.
However, Korpisalo endured a disastrous 2020-21. His -18.34 Goals Saved Above Expected in all situations, per Evolving Hockey, was third-worst in the NHL. The shine is certainly a little off the 2020 playoff hero.
Tristan Jarry is signed for two more years with a $3.5 million cap hit.
Will Pittsburgh protect the 26-year-old Jarry or Casey DeSmith? The back-up DeSmith outperformed the starter Jarry at points in 2020-21 and his $1.25 million cap hit is another plus. Jarry, of course, also flamed out in the post-season in spectacular fashion.
This could present a buy-low opportunity for the San Jose Sharks, if they like Jarry.
The Young Guns
Kaapo Kahkonen is signed for one more year with a $725,000 cap hit.
As noted above, there’s good reason for the contending Wild to protect Talbot over the 24-year-old and vice versa. For what it’s worth, per Evolving Hockey, Kahkonen was actually worse than Martin Jones this season. Kahkonen had a -15.3 GSAx in 24 games — fifth-worst in the league — while Jones followed with a -13.89 in 34 games.
Kahkonen sported a gaudy 16-8-0 record, but maybe that’s a little smoke and mirrors.
Vitek Vanecek is signed for one more year with a $716,667 cap hit.
The 25-year-old performed ably in Ilya Samsonov’s stead last season, outperforming Samsonov in many cases. But the 23-year-old Samsonov, a 2015 first-rounder, is still considered Washington’s goalie of the future. And like Kahkonen, Vanecek’s underlying numbers don’t exactly pop — his -9.24 GSAx in 37 games puts him in the bottom half of the league.
That said, the Capitals are due to expose a wealth of talent in the expansion draft, so they may be able to keep Vanecek regardless.
Adin Hill is an RFA this summer.
For the third straight year, the 25-year-old provided adequate netminding in spot duty for an injury-plagued Coyotes crease.
Arizona also presents an interesting case where Hill might be the clear most-talented guy for the Kraken to pick — meaning it would make sense for the ‘Yotes to trade him for something of value before the expansion draft and force Seattle to select somebody less desirable off their roster.
The Coyotes, however, would need to acquire another goalie in Hill’s stead to expose. At the moment, they only have Darcy Kuemper and Hill who meet requirements.
Ottawa has two prospects that they like in Filip Gustavsson and Joey Daccord, but can only protect one. Gustavsson outperformed Daccord by a healty margin during their respective rookie campaign — +2.95 GSAx in nine games versus -2.1 in eight appearances — but it’s a small sample size. Gustavsson is also two years younger than the 24-year-old Daccord.
All said, between Gustavsson and Daccord, neither seems to be a star in the making.
This is a more intriguing group: Chris Driedger, Linus Ullmark, and Petr Mrazek are UFAs whose rights the San Jose Sharks can acquire before the expansion draft, undercutting Seattle in the process.
Driedger and Mrazek are the odd men out in ther respective situations: For Driedger, Florida has to protect the Sergei Bobrovsky because of the high-priced goalie’s NMC — and they have super-prospect Spencer Knights waiting in the wings. Mrazek was supplanted by Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedjokovic.
Ullmark, meanwhile, performed ably for cellar-dwelling Buffalo, and might desire a change of scenery.
Save for perhaps Mrazek, there isn’t a proven No. 1 in the bunch, but they all excelled in smaller sample sizes this season.
I’ll focus more on this trio and other UFA goalies at a later date.
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