With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, hockey fans must be wondering who will be a seller, buyer, or idle once April 3rd, 2013 rolls around. Matt D’Agostini and Brenden Morrow were some of the first players to be traded before the deadline, but there are undoubtedly a slew of moves that fans will be anticipating over the next several days.
While the status of high profile players such as Jarome Iginla was being closely monitored by hockey fans until last night, there should be some significant interest in goalies over the next six days. Rumors have been abound as to the availability of premier netminders such as Roberto Luongo, but the price tag and contract associated with Vancouver’s goaltender might be a little bit too much for GMs to want to deal with during an abbreviated season.
Despite the fact that some might shy away from acquiring backup goalies, there are quite a few options that teams can consider when looking for help between the pipes at this year’s trade deadline.
Jonathan Bernier will probably be one of the most sought-after backup goalies at this year’s trade deadline as the goalie has made
it known in the past that he is ready to compete for starting duties on another team willing to give him a chance. With Jonathan Quick returning to the form that helped the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup last year, Bernier’s playing time and role with the time might be diminishing.
Of course, keeping one’s number one starting goalie fresh during an abbreviated season is a must, especially if a team wants to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row. However, Bernier’s trade value might be at its highest right now as certain teams might be looking for goaltending help for the stretch-run. Since help between the pipes might be at a premium when the trade deadline rolls around, GMs might not want to pay a hefty cost to acquire the services of goalies such as Roberto Luongo. So far this season, Bernier has compiled a very impressive 7-2-0 record with a .923 Save Percentage and 1.94 GAA – statistics that will undoubtedly make him a very attractive option to GMs that don’t want to shell out the assets that it would take to acquire an established starting netminder.
At this point and time, Bernier would likely fetch a first round draft pick and a player of some value in a trade scenario, but it remains to be seen what the Kings will do with the goalie even though the team might want to plug some holes at the trade deadline. The Kings have some options to choose from when dealing with Bernier as the netminder will become a restricted free agent during the summertime, but it might be more fruitful for the team to trade the Laval, Quebec native when the selling price for the goalie is at its ceiling.
Ben Bishop could be another hot commodity at the deadline as he has been one of three Ottawa goalies that has been holding the fort for the Senators this season. Craig Anderson took shots during practice on Monday and it looks as though the netminder is nearing a return, and that could make Ben Bishop a valuable asset over the next week.
Losing Craig Anderson, Jason Spezza, and Erik Karlsson might have seemed like a death sentence for Senators fans, but Ben Bishop (7-4, .923 Save Percentage, 2.54 GAA) and Robin Lehner (3-1-4, .940 Save Percentage, 2.05 GAA) have been part of the reason for Ottawa’s sustained level of competition. Bishop and Lehner have certainly kept the Senators in the mix this season, but Lehner has looked like the goalie of the future that he was projected to be when he was drafted and it is unlikely that Ottawa will use him as a trade chip this season.
With the way the Senators have been playing this season, a trade that would try to offset the loss of Spezza or Karlsson would be highly improbable. However, dealing Bishop could net Bryan Murray a depth player that could help the Senators down the stretch-run this season. Ben Bishop has shown some steady progression over the years in a limited sample size, but his trade value might be at its highest point right now, and the Senators probably wouldn’t mind adding a player that would fit into head coach Paul MacLean’s system.
Thomas Greiss – The Wild Card?
Thomas Greiss has been patiently waiting to get his shot at starting duties and/or more playing time, but Antti Niemi will still be
under contract for the Sharks after this season and Alex Stalock is quickly ascending the ranks to San Jose’s goaltending throne.
Greiss’ career numbers (17-15-3, .910 Save Percentage, 2.55 GAA) indicate that the goalie has been a serviceable backup, and are comparable to Bishop’s career totals (14-12-3, .911 Save Percentage, 2.62 GAA) with the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators. Since Greiss’ contract with the Sharks will expire this summer, it is likely that the team will elect to give Alex Stalock a preview of NHL duties instead of resigning Greiss to a contract.
With Harri Sateri backing up Alex Stalock in the AHL, the Sharks seem to be pretty well off in terms of goalie talent. Whether Stalock or Sateri will translate their AHL success to the NHL is yet to be seen, but it wouldn’t hurt to the Sharks to get some value for Greiss if a GM is looking to do an under-the-radar deal for a backup goalie at a cheaper price. Goalies such as Jonathan Bernier and Ben Bishop might draw a lot of interest at the trade deadline, so GMs might not necessarily be looking at Greiss – especially since the goalie’s numbers (1-3, .906 Save Percentage, 2.79 GAA) have been rather pedestrian so far this season. Greiss certainly wouldn’t draw the same return as Bishop or Bernier would, but Doug Wilson has shown a propensity to wheel and deal before, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Greiss get dealt or included in a package deal of some sort.
Trade Chips or Contract Seekers?
After the season is over for the Sharks, Senators, and Kings, all of the teams will have to make a decision as to what to do with their backup goalies. Both Ben Bishop and Jonathan Bernier will become restricted free agents this summer and their respective teams will have to decide whether or not to trade their goalies or resign them. On the other hand, Thomas Greiss will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it might make more sense for Doug Wilson to try to deal Greiss if he has an opportunity to get something for him before the goalie can decide to test the free agent market in the summer.
Despite the fact that Jonathan Bernier has been a tremendous help to the Kings as a backup, he is making $1.25 Million as a backup, and with Jonathan Quick rounding back into form the Kings might choose to take a different route when looking for a relief option in the summer. Of course, the Kings could also wait until the summer time to trade Bernier to a team that is in need of goaltending help, but the return will probably not be as high as what can be expected at this year’s deadline. Much the same can be done with Ben Bishop in Ottawa, but the Senators have already caught a glimpse of what their prospect goalie could bring to the table, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team give Lehner a shot at backing up Craig Anderson until the latter goalie’s contract expires.
Jonathan Bernier is still likely to receive the most interest from teams at this year’s deadline because he is the most seasoned and seemingly promising option that GMs will be looking at. Despite the fact that one netminder might receive more interest from a team(s) than another, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be interest in other goalies if someone is still in the market by next Wednesday.