Now’s a good time to examine the goalie market
Jonathan Quick is out with a groin injury -- one that could be long-term -- and that’s left Los Angeles with Jeff Zatkoff as its No. 1 goalie.
Mike Smith was hurt last night in Ottawa -- the second straight year he’s picked up an injury -- which has once again pushed Louis Domingue into Arizona’s starting role.
And with those two developments, the NHL’s goalie carousel is in full spin.
To be fair, the ride started this summer. There was confirmation of an expansion draft, followed by the Brian Elliott-to-Calgary trade at the draft, and all the rumors involving Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Then the season started, and injuries hit.
Spin baby spin.
The calls for L.A. to bring in a goalie got louder last night as Zaktoff struggled, again, in a 6-3 loss to Minnesota. Whether it’s him in goal or Peter Budaj, neither seems like an adequate solution, especially for a Kings team with playoff aspirations.
Arizona’s not quite in a similar boat. The severity of Smith’s injury is still unknown, and the club has faith in Domingue, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Coyotes contemplate some sort of move.
When Smith got hurt last year, then-GM Don Maloney said he was “willing to pay up an asset” to get a “top end goaltender” and while Maloney has since been replaced by John Chayka, a similar -- but more tempered -- strategy could be employed.
If Smith is badly hurt, the Coyotes might have to bring another guy in, though not necessarily someone to challenge for starts. Justin Peters and Marek Langhamer are the No. 3 and 4 goalies on the depth chart, and Chayka will probably want to avoid a repeat of last season, when the likes of Anders Lindback and Niklas Treutle tried, but failed, to stabilize the backup position behind Domingue.
So that’s the situation at hand.
Now... what’s out there?
For the purposes of keeping this realistic, let’s skip over Bishop and Fleury. Both would be insanely expensive acquisitions, and it’s tough to see either getting moved right now.
If you’re looking for a guy with plenty of No. 1 experience, you can call the Jets for Ondrej Pavelec or the Red Wings for Jimmy Howard. Of course, both acquisitions are tough to stomach because of their cap hits. OK, Howard is completely un-stomachable (not a word) while Pavelec is somewhat stomachable (still not a word) if the Jets retained salary.
But there’s a reason Pavelec’s currently in the American League. Two reasons, actually -- a .907 career save percentage, and a .904 last season.
The Flyers have two potential No. 1 netminders, and affordable ones in Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason (what’s more, both pending unrestricted free agents.) But if Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going to trade one of them, is he going to do it now?
As Brough wrote today: “Not for nothing, that’s for sure.”
Some look at Carolina and wonder if GM Ron Francis would move one of Cam Ward ($3.3 million through 2018) or Eddie Lack ($2.75 million). But those same people also realize Ward has value this summer, when the ‘Canes will be forced to expose a goalie in the expansion draft.
The Islanders have a three-goalie situation right now with Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube. But GM Garth Snow was comfortable rolling with it last year, and this year appears no different.
The ideal solution for teams looking for goalie help, of course, is to do what Minnesota did a couple of seasons ago -- find a potential reclamation project on the cheap, like Devan Dubnyk, and cross your fingers.
Problem is, not many current candidates fit the mold. Pittsburgh’s Mike Condon has had some success at the NHL level, and will likely come available when Matt Murray returns from his hand injury, but let’s be honest -- Condon’s a reach.
Darcy Kuemper is interesting, and sitting behind Dubnyk in Minnesota. But GM Chuck Fletcher is probably content with his goalie situation, and therefore would feel no need to mess with it (unless the price was right).
Whatever the case, this market is something to watch in the coming days and weeks.