With the way that Dustin Tokarski performed in the postseason, many fans are
expecting that he wouldn’t make it through waivers to get back to Hamilton next
season. As a result, the expectation is that either he or incumbent backup
Peter Budaj will be traded. The problem is, however, there aren’t a whole
lot of teams in the market for another goalie at the moment.
To figure out which teams could be interested in one of the Habs’ goalies,
let’s go through the depth charts.
Buffalo: Michal Neuvirth, Jhonas Enroth, Matt Hackett
Boston: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg, Malcolm Subban
Detroit: Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, Petr Mrazek
Florida: Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya, Dan Ellis
Ottawa: Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner (RFA), Andrew Hammond
Tampa Bay: Ben Bishop, Evgeni Nabokov, Kristers Gudlevskis
Toronto: Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer (RFA), Garret Sparks
Out of this group, the only team that may need a new backup is Toronto as
it’s expected that the Leafs will try to accommodate his trade request.
After that, there aren’t a lot of openings. Some might suggest Boston
since Svedberg is a bit of an unknown but he’s a decent up-and-coming goalie,
good enough that they let Chad Johnson walk as a free agent so they likely
wouldn’t covet one of Montreal’s backups.
Carolina: Anton Khudobin, Cam Ward, Drew MacIntyre
Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis McIlhinney, Oscar Dansk
New Jersey: Cory Schneider, Scott Clemmensen, Keith Kincaid
NY Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot, Cedrick Desjardins
NY Islanders: Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Kevin Poulin (RFA)
Philadelphia: Steve Mason, Ray Emery, Rob Zepp
Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury, Thomas Greiss, Jeff Zatkoff
Washington: Braden Holtby, Justin Peters, Philip Grubauer
One would think the Devils will be seeking an upgrade at the backup position
as Clemmensen is best served as a #3 at this point. I suppose Columbus
could be persuaded in the right situation as well as McIlhinney is cheap enough
that they could risk sending him down via waivers if they picked up an upgrade
along the way. That said, I doubt they’re looking to do that right now.
Chicago: Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta, Kent Simpson
Colorado: Semyon Varlamov, Reto Berra, Calvin Pickard
Dallas: Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback, Jussi Rynnas
Minnesota: Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper (RFA), Josh Harding
Nashville: Pekka Rinne, Carter Hutton, Marek Mazanec
St. Louis: Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Niklas Lundstrom
Winnipeg: Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson, Connor Hellebuyck
I suspect Minnesota wouldn’t mind adding another goalie. Backstrom
really struggled last year while Harding’s MS situation makes him a huge
wildcard. Nashville could consider adding one of Montreal’s backups as
well though Hutton is on a one-way deal and that organization isn’t a high
spending team in the first place. Hutchinson is Winnipeg’s backup of the
future – he’s signed to the same contract Tokarski is – so they might want a
better veteran to bridge between now and 2015-16.
Anaheim: Frederik Andersen, Jason Labarbera, John Gibson
Arizona: Mike Smith, Devan Dubnyk, Mike McKenna
Calgary: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, Joni Ortio (RFA)
Edmonton: Viktor Fasth, Ben Scrivens, Richard Bachman
Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick, Martin Jones, J-F Berube
San Jose: Antti Niemi, Alex Stalock, Troy Grosenick
Vancouver: Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom
There’s a case to be made that none of these teams could be looking for a
different backup. I could see Anaheim and Arizona being interested in one
late in training camp or early in the year if their veteran placeholders (Labarbera
and Dubnyk) struggle like they did last season. At this part of the
offseason though, it’s not as likely.
So at the end of the day, here are the teams that will or could be looking
for a new backup:
Anaheim, Arizona, Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, Toronto,
Of those teams though, only the Devils and Maple Leafs could qualify as
likely to be actively seeking one and in Toronto’s case, that’s only if they
deal Reimer as expected. The rest are all maybes depending on how
placeholders work out in training camp or if the acquisition cost is cheap
enough to justify potentially carrying a third stringer in the minors on a
It’s also worth noting that there are still a trio of veteran UFA’s available
in Ilya Bryzgalov, Martin Brodeur, and Tim Thomas. One of those goalies
could easily fill the spot in Toronto and possibly New Jersey which further
shrinks the trade market.
Perhaps it’s not as much as a given as most thought that one of Budaj or
Tokarski will be dealt this offseason. There just aren’t a lot of openings
for the time being and with a few free agents still out there, those teams with
openings likely won’t be in a rush to trade for a goalie when they could just
sign one. We saw a couple of teams last year carry three goalies.
While not ideal, it’s starting to look more and more likely the Habs could enter
the 2014-15 with three on their roster, waiting for an injury or two to arise
elsewhere to try to clear the logjam.