The 2023 offseason could become the ‘summer of change’. It has the potential to be very busy across the NHL and more specifically the goaltending landscape could become drastically different. A number of contending teams have big decisions to make on who will be their number one netminder next season. Meanwhile rebuilding and re-tooling teams are trying to get rid of some contract obligations and move their resources in another direction.
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Personally, I see the trade market heating up in a major way as we creep closer to the NHL Entry Draft in June. Here’s five goalies who are likely changing teams during the 2023 offseason:
The New Jersey Devils are set in net with Akira Schmid as the ‘goaltender of the future’ and Vitek Vanecek as a very capable 1-B backup. This leaves former second-round pick Mackenzie Blackwood the odd man out, and I’m fully expecting an offseason trade to transpire.
Blackwood wants an opportunity to play after he didn’t sniff any playoff minutes despite being fully healthy. It appears he’ll need to get off the Devils to find some meaningful playing time. At 26 years old and a pending restricted free agent he’s an attractive trade candidate for interested teams as he’ll come with some team control.
Blackwood’s best season came back in 2019-20 when he recorded a 22-14-8 record and a 2.77 goals against average (GAA) and .915 save percentage (Sv.%). He’s very capable of getting back to this level. Two teams I’d keep an eye on include the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
The Toronto Maple Leafs put all the writing on the wall during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they decided to play rookie Joseph Woll instead of Matt Murray when Ilya Samsonov went down against the Florida Panthers. Woll proved he can handle the brightest lights and now Murray looks like the odd man out.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion is entering the final season of his contract, carrying a cap hit of $4.6 million against the Maple Leafs’ books. Yes, a trade will be tough considering Murray had some injury troubles last season which seemed to have followed him from his days with the Ottawa Senators. He went 14-8-2 last season in Toronto, with a 3.01 GAA and a .903 Sv.%.
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The San Jose Sharks are a team to circle when it comes to a deal. They will be looking for a low-risk high-reward type of veteran goalie who can push Kaapo Kahkonen for starter’s minutes. Murray’s capable and a less pressure-packed environment in California could be exactly what the doctor ordered to hit reset on his career. If a trade doesn’t transpire, look for the Maple Leafs to buy out Murray.
The Anaheim Ducks and John Gibson need to break up and it could finally be happening this summer. Gibson is one netminder who could flourish with a change of scenery and get back to being an elite goalie.
Unlike Murray, Gibson is signed long term at a cap hit of $6.4 million through the 2026-27 season. He holds a 10-team modified no-trade clause which gives him a small say in the matter. Considering the deep history he has with the franchise, I could see the Ducks keeping Gibson rather informed throughout the process.
The Ducks netminder has seen his production drop of late. Last season the 28-year-old managed to produce a 14-31-8 record with a 3.99 GAA and a .899 Sv.%. With Anaheim being a rebuilding team who were hoping to win the NHL’s draft lottery, I wouldn’t read too much into the numbers. Gibson has proved in the past he’s capable of being among the league’s elite and with a new team who has a better defensive structure, there’s potential for him to hit the reset button. Perhaps with the Pittsburgh Penguins?
One goaltender who wasn’t a potential trade chip until season’s end is Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. There is some speculation brewing the Jets are looking to change up the core of their team and with Hellebuyck making things clear he isn’t interested in re-signing for a rebuild, the potential of a trade went way up this summer.
Hellebuyck is a world class goalie who can push a contending team over the hump and a borderline team into the playoffs. He would easily become the biggest name on the trade market and there would be a number of interested suitors across the league. Teams likely lining up include the Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Seattle Kraken.
Last season the 30-year-old tender finished with a 37-25-2 record and a 2.49 GAA and an impressive .920 Sv.%. Hellebuyck is the real deal and he’s still in the prime of his career. The Jets could fetch a massive return and help kickstart their retooling. The only obstacle may be his contract status and he’s entering the final season of his contract. Acquiring teams will want some security if they are going to give up a ton of assets to land the former Vezina trophy winner.
While a Hellebuyck trade may be the most unlikely of the goalies mentioned, it would certainly be the biggest should a deal transpire out of Winnipeg.
The Ottawa Senators are an up-and-coming team who will be competing for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference next season. I’m fully expecting them to have a new starting goalie in 2023-24 with Cam Talbot hitting free agency come July 1.
At 35 years old being a 1-A starter may be behind Talbot but he’d be a great fit as a veteran mentor for a younger goalie looking to make a mark in the league. The Sharks could be a nice fit and so too could be the Red Wings as Talbot could help push Ville Husso for the starter’s crease. Hitting the open market, Talbot is likely to sign a one-year deal around $2 million in 2023-24. He recorded a 17-14-2 record with a 2.93 GAA and a .898 Sv.%.
The NHL’s goalie market could be hot this summer and if so, I see these five being some of the bigger names in play. Murray and Blackwood appear to be the most likely to change teams, followed by Talbot signing elsewhere, Gibson being dealt from the Ducks, leaving Hellebuyck as the least likely. The fun begins soon!