The clock is ticking down to the NHL Trade Deadline, and the Vancouver Canucks sit five points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. It’s becoming more clear that they will likely be moving on from some players instead of bringing them in. While some of the bigger names who were rumoured to be dealt like J.T. Miller are seemingly off the market, guys such as Brock Boeser and Conor Garland are still getting interest, and there is still a chance other Canucks players get dealt, including their backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
According to Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts, there hasn’t been much talk regarding Halak, with a lot of that having to do with his stats this season. Across 13 games played, he owns a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.42 and a save percentage (SV%) of .883. He’s a career 2.50 GAA and a .915 SV%, and there’s more than enough track record there for a team to acquire the 35-year-old native of Slovakia for relatively cheap. Here are three potential trade partners for him.
The Toronto Maple Leafs
It has been well-documented over the last few months, that the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ goaltending has fallen off significantly. Eric Kallgren has been a nice bright spot for them over the last couple of games, but the play of Peter Mrazek and injury to Jack Campbell has put them in a tough spot days before the deadline. They could use a steady, veteran backup who has a track record of success in the past, along with a cheap cap hit and relatively low cost to obtain (compared to other options on the market).
Halak’s average annual value (AAV), is just $1.5 million, and with defensemen Jake Muzzin on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), the Leafs have the room to make a deal happen. Travis Dermott was recently acquired from the Maple leafs in exchange for a third-round selection after it was reported earlier that Vancouver had expressed interest in the 24 year old, but that doesn’t mean Toronto and Vancouver are done just yet.
The Leafs make a lot of sense for a Halak deal before Monday’s deadline.
The Edmonton Oilers
Another team that has dealt with goaltending issues throughout the season is the Edmonton Oilers. Since the coaching change from Dave Tippett to Jay Woodcroft, the team has a record of 12-5-2, winning five in a row. It has been noted that the Oilers aren’t going to make a big splash at the trade deadline, but adding another reliable backup goaltender could still be an option for them.
Despite winning five consecutive games, the Oilers’ goaltending tandem is still a question mark. Mike Smith has battled injuries all season long, starting just 16 games, and at age 39, hasn’t put up his best season, with a GAA of 3.39 and a SV% of .895. Mikko Koskinen has been slightly better, but not by much. He owns a 3.04 GAA and a .904 SV%. While Halak’s numbers aren’t better by any means, a change of scenery for him and a new goaltender for the Oilers could make them an ideal trade partner.
Vegas Golden Knights
Speaking of injuries, there might not be a team that has been hit worse by the injury bug than the Vegas Golden Knights. Some of the names include captain Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, recently acquired Jack Eichel, and starting goaltender Robin Lehner, who has a lower-body injury with no specific timeframe for his return. Not to mention, they are in a battle for the final wild card position, five points up on Vancouver and three up on Dallas, with the Stars having four games in hand. If Vegas needs anything this trade deadline, it’s a goalie.
The other options this season for the Golden Knights in goal have been Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson. Brossoit, a native of Port Alberni, British Columbia, has just 106 games of NHL experience and has a 2.90 GAA and a .895 SV%. Thompson on the other hand, has just six games of NHL experience, with a GAA this season of 3.43 and a SV% of .897. With the injury bug hitting the Golden Knights hard, a veteran goaltender to settle things down until Lehner returns would help them a lot.
Halak is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) after this season, and Vancouver is likely to move on from him and promote Spencer Martin to a backup position behind starter Thatcher Demko. Even if it isn’t a massive haul, it would be beneficial to get something for him and give him a fresh start on a playoff team.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.