Earlier in the week, I wrote about the available free agent goaltenders and which ones could make sense for the Oilers this offseason. I also talked about the importance of Ken Holland finding a more long-term solution between the pipes, instead of just another one-year stopgap like they had this past season with Mike Smith.
There really isn’t a long-term solution on the free-agent market, but the Oilers might be able to find one if they explore the trade market. The upside of going the trade route is that you might get a goalie who can be your starter for the next five-plus seasons and you won’t have to overpay, which you likely would have to in free agency. The downside is that it’s going to take some significant assets to acquire a starting goaltender via trade.
The Oilers don’t have very many draft picks that they could afford to trade and their farm system isn’t exactly loaded. So if they want to make a trade, they’ll need to either trade a roster player from an area of strength or create some sort of package deal with multiple assets going each way. They’ll also need to move out some money. There are big hurdles for Ken Holland to clear, but it’s not unrealistic to think that the Oilers could find a quality goaltender on the trade market.
By my count, there are five teams who could be looking to trade a starting goaltender. Here they are:
GM Jim Rutherford has openly said that he will need to move one of Tristan Jarry or Matt Murray. A trade is coming, but what do the Penguins want in return? After trading a first-round pick to Toronto, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford was looking to get one back in a deal for one of his goaltenders.
Would it be a good idea for the Oilers to trade the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft for one of Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry? It would certainly be tempting considering both goalies are RFA’s and both are under the age of 27. They could both be starting goaltenders here for the next five or six years.
I’m not sure if I would do that trade straight up. In 2016, the Ducks traded Frederick Andersen to the Maple Leafs for the 30th overall pick in the 2016 Draft and the 50th pick in the 2017 Draft. Do those two picks add up to the 14th overall pick? I don’t think so. On top of that, the goaltending market is pretty loaded this offseason, so the Penguins would get less.
If the Oilers could find a way to get a first-round pick in another deal, then I would be more inclined to make that trade. I think Edmonton will be seriously considering one of Jarry or Murray, but I’m just not sure if they’ll be able to reach a deal considering the Oiler’s lack of draft picks.
Like the Penguins, the Coyotes also have three goaltenders. There’s no way they would trade Darcy Kuemper, who was a Vezina candidate before he got injured and Adin Hill really wouldn’t have much value on the market, plus he’s a pending RFA, so you could see why they would want to hold on to him as a backup. That leaves Antti Raanta as the odd man out.
There are a handful of reasons to believe the Coyotes would be actively looking to deal the 30-year-old Raanta. First off, he’s a UFA at the end of next season, so they might want to just get something for him before they lose him for free. Also, they have a potential backup so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind moving out Raanta, who would be a $4.25 million backup.
I don’t think the acquisition price would be very high. Raanta has great numbers when he’s healthy, but he was hurt for the majority of last season. That will hurt his value and so will the fact that he’s a pending UFA. On top of that, lots of teams will be trying to move goaltenders and there are plenty of capable options on the free-agent market. Again the Oiler’s lack of draft picks might hurt them here, but I think there could be a fit here.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
When the Jackets lost Sergei Bobrovsky, many people thought they were going to be in serious trouble. They ended up making it further than Bobrovsky and the Panthers did, in large part due to the performances put forth by Jonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzilkins. Really, the only reason they made it to game five of the second round this season was because of how good Jonas Korpisalo was.
So why would the Blue Jackets deal off one of their promising young goaltenders? Well, if they keep both for this season, then they’re likely going to lose one in the expansion draft. The team also needs to get some scoring help and their most valuable trade asset would be one of their two goaltenders. Their trade value is greatly helped by the fact that both are only 26-years-old and both are under contract for the next two seasons as well. Korpisalo has a cap hit of $2.8 million while Merzilkins carries a cap hit of $4.0 million.
Which one would they prefer to deal? I think it’s a coin flip, but there have been some early reports that Korpisalo could be on the trading block. If he is, that would be a perfect fit for the Oilers. To get a young goalie, who has experience as a starter, and is signed to a bargain contract for the next two seasons would be huge for the team. The Oilers just might not be able to pay the price.
The Oiler’s biggest surplus is on the blueline and unfortunately, that’s where the Blue Jackets are the strongest. They won’t be interested in Matt Benning or Adam Larsson. They want scoring. Would they be interested in Andreas Athanasiou? Probably, considering they were close to acquiring him at the deadline, but that won’t be enough.
One of the Blue Jackets goaltenders would be perfect, I’m just not sure if these two teams are good trading partners.
NEW YORK RANGERS
I put the Rangers near the bottom of the list for a pair of reasons. First, I don’t think it’s a lock that they trade Alexander Georgiev. If Henrik Lundquist retires, then I could see them opting to keep both of their young goaltenders for the next season and then deciding what to do next offseason before the expansion draft. Secondly, of all the goaltenders I’ve listed, I think Georgiev is the least proven starting goaltender.
At the same time, considering how many quality goaltenders are reportedly on the market, the price to acquire Georgiev could be substantially lower than it would have been 12 months ago. That makes this interesting. Georgiev is just 24-years-old and a pending RFA, so the Oilers could likely get him signed to a pretty reasonable contract.
He’s certainly shown at times that he can be an NHL goaltender, but he’s coming off a rough season, so there is some risk in acquiring him. Should the Oilers look at Georgiev? For sure. Should he be their first choice? I don’t think so.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
I don’t think the Leafs will trade Frederick Andersen, but the rumours are out there so I figured I should throw them in here. While he hasn’t been great in elimination games, he’s been an excellent regular season goaltender over his four seasons in Toronto. He has one more year left on a contract that carries a $5.0 cap hit, so it would be hard for the Oilers to fit him in.
He would be a great fit but I’m not convinced that the Leafs are actually going to move him and if they did, it would be difficult for the Oilers to both squeeze his cap hit in and find the assets that Kyle Dubas would be asking for.
Earlier in the week, I touched on the free-agent market. Today I looked at the trade market. After doing that, it’s clear that there are plenty of ways to Ken Holland to improve this team’s goaltending situation before next season starts. It needs to get done.