The Philadelphia Flyers' backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is a prime trade target.
With starter Ilya Bryzgalov signed to a nine-year contract, the 23-year-old Bobrovsky has found himself in a peculiar situation—too talented as a backup, undeveloped as a starter.
In order for his career to progress effectively, he needs more playing time, something he's not going to get with the Vezina-nominated Bryzgalov playing in front of him.
In addition to the drawbacks of the situation for Bobrovsky, there are some for the Flyers as well, most notably his $1.75 million cap hit.
Furthermore, nobody is certain that Bobrovsky is the real deal; does anyone remember Andrew Raycroft?
Raycroft took the starting job in Boston from Felix Potvin during the 2003-04 season; he played 57 games, logging a .926 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against-average as a 23-year-old. Two seasons later he led the NHL in goals allowed and is now a forgotten backup for the Dallas Stars.
If Bobrovsky tanks like so many goalies have in the past, the Flyers will regret not getting whatever they could for him.
The Calgary Flames are last in their division. With eight wins in 18 games, they appear to be on their way to missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Rebuilding time is now; the team certainly isn't getting any younger.
Calgary is the league's fourth-oldest team, according to NHLnumbers.com; 10 of their 18 skaters are aged 30 or older.
Additionally, starting goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff is 35 years old. The Flames' backup, Henrik Karlsson, will be 28 on November 27.
With Kiprusoff's career running short, and Karlsson lacking NHL experience (he's played in only 17 NHL games before this season), the Flames need a reliable young starter.
Bobrovsky could gradually take playing time away from the aging Kiprusoff over the next few years, giving him the experience and development necessary.
By the time Bobrovsky is ready to start, the Flames could be ready to compete (assuming they make additional rebuilding moves). The trade with Philadelphia would be as follows:
To Calgary: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Calgary's 2013 second-round draft pick
The difference is that Varlamov carries higher expectations from NHL general managers, having been drafted in the first round, while Bobrovsky was never drafted. So, the Flyers could surely acquire a second-round pick from him.
Considering Philadelphia's drafting prowess and the likelihood of that pick being low in the round, it could turn out very well.
The Edmonton Oilers recent draft luck has them set with a young team and two of the game's most promising prospects—the 2010 and 2011 first overall picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Even more promising for the team is the quick turnaround; after performing poorly enough in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons to have those low picks, the Oilers are currently sitting in the position of a playoff team.
They are tied for eighth in the Western Conference with 22 points. Should the Oilers make the playoffs, it would surely be the first of many appearances to come.
However, their starting goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, is 39 years old. He will be retired before the likes of Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle reach their prime.
Backup Devan Dubnyk is a mystery.
Dubnyk was drafted 14th overall in the 2004 entry draft but has played just 61 career NHL games. His career save percentage of .906 and goals-against-average of 2.99 are not impressive.
The undrafted Bobrovsky might be less of a risk, considering his experience as a starter with Philadelphia in 2010-11.
The Flyers could offer a similar trade to the Oilers as listed for the Flames:
To Edmonton: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Edmonton's 2012 second-round draft pick
Or, the Flyers could look ahead to fill a potential hole that may result from this offseason.
Defenseman Matt Carle is set to become a free agent. With a contract extension given to Braydon Coburn (a defenseman who was also in line for free agency), it is unlikely Philadelphia will have the cap space necessary to give Carle a raise this summer.
The team could replace him with a young defenseman that Flyers fans would appreciate.
To Edmonton: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Theo Peckham and Edmonton's 2012 third-round pick
A four-time Vezina winner is being used as a backup.
The New Jersey Devils may claim Martin Brodeur is still their starter, but Johan Hedberg has played more than him (662 minutes to Brodeur's 438) and better than him (.914 save percentage to Brodeur's .888).
Regardless, Brodeur is 39 and Hedberg is 38. The Devils need a young goaltender.
The Flyers would likely prefer trading Bobrovsky out of their conference, but the Devils would certainly be interested in picking up the young goaltender.
With New Jersey bordering on a playoff spot early in the season, it is uncertain whether or not they'll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
This would likely affect their approach to such a trade.
If the Devils were out of it, and the Flyers decided to trade Bobrovsky, they could attempt getting Hedberg as a replacement backup.
Hedberg has years of experience in that position and has actually done well in the playoffs, should Philadelphia need extra stability then. In 22 career playoff games, his save percentage is .914 and his goals-against-average is 2.33.
To New Jersey: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Johan Hedberg and New Jersey's 2012 second-round draft pick
If the Devils were headed to the playoffs, they would probably be keen on keeping Hedberg and avoiding such a shakeup.
After the first period of Saturday's 6-0 win against the New York Islanders, Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins described his goal, saying on MSG, "I got a pass from DiPietro up the middle, and I just tried to get it on net, and it went in."
Horton then laughed at his comment...or maybe at DiPietro, like so many others have done.
DiPietro was once drafted first overall in the NHL entry draft. He was also once given a 15-year contract worth $67.5 million.
His career stats at age 30: .903 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against-average.
Due to injury troubles, he's only played in 45 games over the past four seasons, a far cry from the Boston University standout general manager Mike Millbury thought he was drafting in 2000.
Along with DiPietro, the Islanders have 36-year-old Evgeni Nabokov (his best years are easily behind him) and 26-year-old Al Montoya.
Montoya was drafted sixth overall in the 2004 entry draft, but has played just 31 NHL games in the seven years since.
The Islanders have a fiasco in net.
They're stuck with DiPietro for another 10 years, Nabokov is old and Montoya's legitimacy as a starter is filled with speculation.
Additonally, Nabokov and Montoya will be free agents this upcoming offseason.
The Islanders can either keep hoping on DiPietro coming through or look elsewhere.
The 23-year-old Bobrovsky may be worth a look. At the very least, he's far less of a risk than DiPietro's contract was.
To New York: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Al Montoya and New Jersey's 2012 second-round draft pick
Much like the New Jersey trade, this would supply the Flyers with an NHL-ready backup in Al Montoya instead of having to call up Michael Leighton. If Montoya is not worth keeping, the Flyers could simply let him go as a free agent after this season.
If this slide's picture doesn't tell you what you need to know about Ottawa's goaltending, perhaps the team averages from this season will: .889 save percentage and 3.32 goals-against-average.
The team is led by 30-year-old Craig Anderson, who was not a starter until age 28, when he played in 71 games for the Colorado Avalanche.
The Senators will likely miss the playoffs again this season. If the team looks to continue rebuilding, they will need a young goalie to back that team.
The Flyers do not need offensive depth. With a healthy roster, the team has Harry Zolnierczyk, Jody Shelley, Brayden Schenn and Blair Betts ready to fill in the forward spots.
The team could use an improvement over Andreas Lilja on the back end, but Ottawa lacks one that the Flyers could afford, so the trade would likely just be for a second-round pick, nothing more.
To Ottawa: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Philadelphia: Ottawa's 2012 second-round draft pick
Last season Dwayne Roloson had an impressive playoff run for the Lightning, posting a .924 save percentage in 17 games as Tampa Bay made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
This season, the 42-year-old is splitting time with 34-year-old Mathieu Garon.
Clearly, the Tampa Bay Lightning's future in goaltending is not optimal. This is mostly due to the fact that they do not have a future in goaltending.
Bobrovsky would change that.
Tampa Bay might also be interested in picking up penalty-killer Blair Betts, who would improve the Lightning's average PK.
To Tampa Bay: Sergei Bobrovsky, Blair Betts
To Philadelphia: 2012 second- and fifth-round draft picks