Teams that don't want to lose a goalie for nothing in the expansion draft will try to make some big moves this season.
The NHL expansion draft slated for June 21 is generating speculation over which goaltenders could hit the trade block. As per the draft rules, teams can only protect one goalie. That could prompt some GMs to move a netminder via trade rather than risk losing him for nothing in the draft.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports some teams are already having discussions among each other about moving goalies. He notes Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins are already considered possible trade candidates. He expects there could be more.
The draft rules also state players carrying no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive them. Bishop, 29, and Fleury, 31, have those clauses in their respective contracts.
Bishop is also eligible for unrestricted free agency following the expansion draft on July 1. Currently earning $5.95 million this season, the cost of re-signing him could prove too expensive for the Lightning. It's also assumed they prefer to protect promising (and more affordable) Andrei Vasilevskiy, who begins a three-year contract in 2017-18.
Despite Bishop's clause, he could be willing to waive it for the right team. On Sept. 2, he told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times he thought a trade to the Calgary Flames last June was close, but the Flames opted instead to acquire Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues.
After losing the starter's job to Matt Murray in the 2016 playoffs, Fleury was also the subject of trade chatter in June linking him to the Flames. His no-movement clause covers him against demotion to the minors and provides him with expansion draft protection. However, he also carries a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. That could provide the Pens an opportunity to trade him and protect Murray in the expansion draft.
The Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets could also consider trading a goalie before the March 1 trade deadline, or prior to the expansion draft in June.
With Petr Mrazek considered the Wings' starter, veteran Jimmy Howard could be available. His $5.91 million annual cap hit, however, could prove difficult to move. The Stars, meanwhile, could try to move Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi.
The Senators could part ways with Craig Anderson or Andrew Hammond. The Flyers must decide between Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. The Canucks could peddle Ryan Miller if Jacob Markstrom proves ready this season for full-time starter duty.
The Islanders are currently carrying Jaroslav Halak, Tomas Greiss and J-F Berube. The Jets have two promising youngsters between the pipes in Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, plus veteran Ondrej Pavelec is now in the minors.
Some of these clubs could also attempt to swing a deal with Las Vegas to ensure their unprotected goaltenders aren't selected. A trade offering up another player, a prospect or a draft pick could prove enticing to Vegas GM George McPhee.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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