TCL Top 10 Goaltenders Likely to Move at the Deadline

Even though the Olympic Games are still ongoing and the trade freeze is well in effect, the goaltending situation around the NHL is far from clear for many teams. With a plethora of goaltenders set to become free agents on July 1st, there will be goalie movement before March 4th in the NHL.

There has already been a fair amount of such movement in the past two weeks. The first ''domino'', if you will, seems to have been the trading of Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen to Dallas only days before the trade freeze. Yesterday, with the trade freeze ending sooner rather than later, Dallas put Alex Auld on waivers. This is no way guarantees their Auld will be picked up, nor that Turco will remain in Dallas, but it's the move that makes the most sense with 3 goaltenders currently on the payroll, 2 of them UFAs on July 1st.

Also yesterday, Nashville gave a 2 year, $6.8 million contract to Pekka Rinne, which pretty much confirms that that 31-year-old pending UFA Dan Ellis will either be moved before next or will be let go come July 1st. The goaltending situation has been less than stable in Nashville over the last few years, but with Rinne still young and fairly cheap, you have to think that he's their guy.

And while two teams have made their choice in terms of number one goaltenders, there are still many more teams amongst the other 28 that aren't certain if they have a number one going into the playoff stretch. Even the two teams mentioned above have uncertain situations with at least one of their goaltenders.

Which teams could use goaltenders, and whether they would be looking for a quick fix going into this year's playoffs or looking for a goaltender of the future could be argued until the cows come home. Nevetheless, here is a list of 10 goaltenders that could have a new address come 3PM March 3rd:


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TCL TOP TEN GOALTENDERS LIKELY TO MOVE AT THE DEADLINE

10. It's a pipe dream for Chicago, but if they could trade Cristobal Huet, they would in a heartbeat. But the 35 year old is inconsistent, gets paid over $5.5 million per year and has 2 more years left on that deal. An unlikely scenario, but he would be the next person gone out of Chicago if it was possible.

9. While also unlikely, Jose Theodore might be shopped by the Capitals. They have their guy in 20-year-old Semyon Varlamov, who was selected but didn't play for Team Russia at the Olympics, and Theodore could free up some cap space to bring in some help on defense for the Caps. But with a $4.5 million cap hit, UFA or not, it's not very likely that Jose Theodore will be going anywhere.

8. If someone would take him Chris Osgood could certainly find himself on a new team. Although he's 37 and his numbers have dwindled from the days where he led the wings to Stanley Cups, he comes relatively cheap at a $1.1 million salary, probably wouldn't be angry playing the role of a mentor and back-up, and still has a year left on his deal. I'm sure that the Red Wings wouldn't be too sad to see him go, with Jimmy Howard proving he's a reliable goaltender.

7. Evgeni Nabokov is a proven starter in the NHL. However, he's also coming close to being a proven choker. Making $5 million per year and ready to hit the free agent market for the first time this summer, the Sharks might decide to cut their losses and find someone else to be their number one goaltender.

6. As mentioned above Dan Ellis also finds himself being the odd-man out in Nashville, with Pekka Rinne a new $6.8 million man. The 31 year old has been a career back-up or #1B goalie, but has good numbers this year in 27 games, and his cheap salary of $2 million could go a long way in fetching a return for Nashville.

5. Marty Turco's value may not be at its all-time high, but he can still provide leadership and a steady hand in goal for a lot of teams. With his salary all but confirmed to come down from its current $5.7 million this summer, and with Dallas setting up for the future with Kari Lehtonen, Turco is clearly the odd-man out.

4. Marty Biron Started the season almost certain that he would be traded once Rick Dipietro was back from injury. Being the back-up for the guy who was signed to be the back-up kind of speaks for itself. Biron could be a useful cog for a lot of teams who aren't that deep in goal and could use someone with experience.

3. Dwayne Roloson By the same token, don't be surprised to see Roloson with a new address on March 3rd. He still has a year left on his deal, and was originally signed to back-up DiPietro through the two years, but if teams are smart, they might hold out for the better of the two goaltenders between him and Biron.

2. The most hotly debated goaltending situation comes out of Montreal. Jaroslav Halak has had incredible number this year and has stolen wins for the Canadiens on nights where they haven't even come close. To trade him now might be one of the dumbest moves in the history of hockey, especially considering he'll be representing Slovakia in the medal round at the Olympics. Nevertheless, the former 9th round pick is seeing his value skyrocket, and so is Pierre Gauthier of the Canadiens. His name is simply in too many rumors to ignore, and while super-hot between the pipes for the moment, you have to wonder when he's going to start cooling down, and whether it would make sense to trade him when his value is at an all-time high, pending RFA or not (keep in mind that he'll be up for arbitration in July).

1. Despite seeing Halak's name in the most rumors, Carey Price has also found himself in the midst of all the speculation. People have wondered whether Bob Gainey stepped down from his job because he wasn't willing to trade the prospect that may have defined his career in Montreal. You also have to wonder whether Pierre Gauthier would be willing to trade him at the request of Pierre Boivin and the Molson Brothers, and you have to wonder what kind of return the former 5th overall pick would garner for the Canadiens.

It's hard to say whether Halak or Price is more valuable on the trade market at the moment, but you have to think that a tandem with an average age of 23 would have other GMs salivating at the thought of trading for one of them. If I were the GM of the Canadiens, I would probably try and keep both of them for now. You can't go wrong with goalies who have proven to be NHL caliber goaltenders at such a young age. Then again, you won't be able to keep both forever, and you'd have to wonder whether it would be best to cut your losses sooner rather than later and define which goalie is your starter going forward.

Keep in mind that this is all speculation based on contract situations and chatter coming in and out of the towns these goalies play in. It's tough to say whether a goalie is on the block, and even tougher to speculate which team might be looking for one with only a handful of games left in the season.

Goaltenders have never really moved all that actively at the deadline, but this is a unique situation. A lot of #1 level goaltenders will be UFAs at season's end, and with most teams worried about a drop in the cap limit, prospects and picks start to look more and more valuable. Whatever happens, there are going to be some happy goalies on March 3rd, and some not so happy that they'll have to share the work with a newly acquired or not-traded goaltender that needs to play.

Who do you think will be traded? Who stays with their team until the end? Which teams might be in need of a goaltender? Let us know!

Prax
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