While teams like the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues search desperately for the franchise goaltender of their respective futures, the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks must juggle their glut of netminders.
Such goalie talent imbalance could prove to be a key catalyst in much of the NHL's trade activity this winter, with the informal upcoming "holiday trade freeze" role-playing as a miniature trade deadline to spark last-second negotiations.
Unneeded yet certainly not unwanted goalies like Ben Scrivens, Justin Peters, Anton Khudobin and Victor Fasth could soon be on the move. Meanwhile, needed but not particularly wanted goalie Ryan Miller—the Sabres are much more interested in rebuilding—could also join them.
Updates on the biggest and latest NHL trade rumors lie on the coming slides.
It was thought that Jonathan Quick's injury absence would test the Los Angeles Kings more than any other regular-season stretch in recent history.
Apparently not. Rookie Martin Jones has won the first six starts of his career with a .972 save percentage, and former Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens, acquired in the Jonathan Bernier trade last summer, has gone 7-3-4 with a .941 save percentage of his own.
Such across-the-board success means that the Kings will have some options once Quick returns. Per Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, a Bernier trade could be the most likely decision:
Matt Frattin has become a healthy scratch for the Los Angeles Kings and it’s all but certain Ben Scrivens will be sent packing once Jonathan Quick returns, which means the Kings won’t have much, if anything, to show for the deal that sent Jonathan Bernier to Toronto — unless they get something decent for Scrivens...
The Islanders and Oilers—the NHL's two worst-ranked teams in goals against—will be top potential destinations, with the one-player-away Blues and scrambling Sabres also in play.
The Hurricanes' goaltending situation has been turned on its head this autumn: While Cam Ward (5-5-5, .901) struggles to shake off the dust of two lengthy injuries in a 10-month span, longtime AHLer Justin Peters has posted 12 consecutive starts with a save percentage of .909 or better (he's 7-3-2 over that stretch).
As Anton Khudobin (2-0, .929) returns at last from a nine-week absence, cap space-squeezed Carolina will likely need to move one of their three desirable netminders.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman on the situation:
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford threw cold water on rumblings that Cam Ward might be the goalie he moves. Rutherford wouldn't comment further, but it is believed he will work to move either Anton Khudobin or Justin Peters by this week's trade freeze.
Peters, who (despite his surprisingly spectacular autumn) sports only a .906 career save percentage, is the most heavily rumored candidate, but relative newcomer Khudobin—considered possibly as a starter-caliber netminder on the free-agent market last summer—might pose as an easier parting of ways.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Oilers might be the top inquirer at the moment.
The Ducks boast arguably the deepest goaltending unit in the league. They might want to transfer some of that value to the forward side of their roster sometime soon.
Twice-drafted 24-year-old Frederik Andersen is a sparkling 8-1-0 with a .938 save percentage while filling in for typical starter Jonas Hiller (14-4-4, .914). 2012-13 breakout Victor Fasth, conversely, is off to a slow start (2-2-1, .885) but flashed enough stardom last spring to interest some GMs around the league.
With 2011 second-rounder John Gibson also approaching NHL readiness, Anaheim would likely be best served to sell high on at least one of their netminders now.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal shares his thoughts:
I keep thinking the Anaheim Ducks will change gears and try to re-sign goalie Jonas Hiller as long as the soon-to-be UFA doesn’t get greedy with what he wants and they will trade Swede Viktor Fasth instead. They can play Hiller and Dane Frederik Andersen and let John Gibson have one more year in the AHL.
Unlike the aforementioned Scrivens and Peters, Fasth may be acquired more as a depth asset rather than as an outstanding starter.
The hockey universe has long since grown tired of the Ryan Miller rumors, but judgement day may finally lie on the horizon for the 33-year-old star.
Per the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch:
Three teams in the West have shown interest in Buffalo G Ryan Miller. It’s believed the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and, possibly as a long shot, the Anaheim Ducks have at least sniffed to see what the asking price is for Miller.
The Blues make the most sense and the Blackhawks may be looking for depth behind Corey Crawford. A lot is going to depend on injuries and what happens to some contending teams.
The Sabres have already shipped off Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek this calendar year and might want to finish the trifecta of blockbusters before New Year's Day rolls around.
In 2013-14, Miller leads the NHL in one category—losses. While the blame for his dismal 7-17-0 mark rests mostly on Buffalo's minor league-caliber defense, for he actually boasts a very respectable .921 save percentage, it's clear that keeping Miller around is not helping the Sabres win more often: He's just making their losses a little closer.
In some of the NHL's only non-goaltending-related trade talk of the month, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is reportedly looking for a forward to bring in.
Bergevin has been scouring the league looking for a scoring winger to add to his top-six -- preferably the team's top line -- but has found it difficult trying to complete a move that also works within the team's salary cap.
The Canadiens have roughly $3.5 million in available cap space.
TFP also claims that Bergevin has shopped Rene Bourque (23 GP, 7 P) and Brian Gionta (34 GP, 17 P) to try to resolve that obstacle and reiterates the Habs' previous connections to Winnipeg's Evander Kane (27 GP, 16 P).
For the Habs, currently ranked third in the Eastern standings but 20th in the NHL in offense, it's understandable that some fine-tuning could be necessary as the season's midpoint approaches.