Welcome to a new series at The Hockey Writers, where we’ll be showcasing some trade candidates from around the league. We will cover each of the four divisions along with a breakdown of forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. Trades are one of the most entertaining aspects of the NHL and after a wild and wacky summer, let’s hope the 2022-23 season brings us much of the same.
We’ve browsed through some forward options within the Central and Pacific, let’s make our way to the Atlantic Division and showcase some netminders who are expected to be moved this season.
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens continue to search for their goaltender of the future. Unfortunately for Jake Allen, he’s not it. The 32-year-old netminder is a pending unrestricted free agent and is likely to see the bulk of the work for the Canadiens with Carey Price done for the season.
Allen is coming off an inconsistent season in 2021-22, recording a 3.30 goals against average (GAA) and a .905 save percentage (SV%) in 35 appearances. The Canadiens made a slew of moves this summer, as general manager (GM) Kent Hughes re-tooled on the fly in impressive fashion. The roster is stacked with some young talent, and now management is looking for their next long-term starting goaltender. Given his age and recent play, Allen is not the best-suited candidate for that job.
I’d expect to see Allen moved at or near the trade deadline unless the Canadiens are overachieving and he’s at the top of his game. Then, it’s likely he rides out the remainder of his contract in Montreal. If/when he does get moved, I’d expect to see a number of Stanley Cup Playoff-bound teams have an interest as adding depth in the crease is paramount for playoff success. As a result, the Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are all teams to keep an eye on.
Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman surprised a lot of people when he traded for and signed goaltender Ville Husso earlier this summer. A move that came only one summer after he signed free-agent netminder Alex Nedeljkovic to a two-year contract. Sounds like the up-and-down season for Nedeljkovic has caused some concern in Motown.
The 26-year-old Nedeljkovic will have a short leash in Detroit this season as it’s likely he’ll be the 1B option when it comes to the Red Wings’ new tandem. After an amazing season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020-21, last season was a struggle for the former second-round pick and if it’s much of the same inconsistency this season, look for Yzerman to try and cash in on his rental come the trade deadline.
Detroit could surprise a lot of teams this season as their roster has been re-tooled and if their young players continue to develop, the Red Wings will once again be a Stanley Cup Playoff contender. At this point, it’s hard to say exactly how Nedeljkovic fits into the team’s plans, as he has quickly become a trade candidate. There will be a number of teams interested should he hit the trade market next spring, including rebuilding teams who could be looking for a cheap starter to lock in for a couple of seasons.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers
Will this finally be the year the Florida Panthers convince someone to take goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky off their hands? The 33-year-old veteran is signed for four more seasons at a whopping $10 million against the cap. The Panthers are a Stanley Cup contender, however, they would love to be able to use their resources in another area, as they have a youngster in Spencer Knight who looks like he could easily handle the NHL workload of a starter.
Unfortunately, the Russian netminder holds a full no-movement clause, which doesn’t change until 2024 to a modified no-trade protection clause. If there’s a trade, Bobrovsky will need to stamp it with his approval. I felt like the Toronto Maple Leafs may kick tires on him, as well as the Oilers and Washington Capitals, however, all three teams went different directions this summer.
If Bobrovsky gets moved from the Panthers, they will need to retain at least $3-4 million on his annual salary, just to get some interest. It will result in the team getting a sweetener in the trade and considering Knight’s framework, Florida should consider making a trade. Again, lots of variables are involved here with trade protection, an extremely high salary and a team looking to win the Stanley Cup. As such, the Panthers netminder is the least likely to be moved of the three mentioned in this article.
There we have it folks, some goaltending trade candidates for the Atlantic Division in 2022-23. Allen and Nedeljkovic seem likely, while Bobrovsky holds all the control in Florida. We saw a ton of goalies change jerseys over the course of the summer, now we will wait to see what kind of changes happen during the season.
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween