Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller, either Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo of the Canucks, and prospects like Ben Bishop and Jonathan Bernier from Ottawa and Los Angeles respectively.
Unlike forwards and defensemen the trade market is usually quite small and because it is so small the team that acts first will usually get the highest return.
If I had to guess who would be the first team to make move I would say it would be the Anaheim Ducks. Viktor Fasth has put the Ducks in a good situation. Fasth made his NHL debut this season at the age of 30 after spending his entire career in the Swedish Elitserien. In his first four NHL games Fasth is 4-0-0 with a .962 Save percentage and a .98 GAA. As good as Fasth has been playing Jonas Hiller has been playing equally as bad. Hiller currently has a .871 save percentage and a 3.54 GAA.
The Ducks have a history of trading their starter to make way for a successful back up who spent most of his career in Europe. Jonas Hiller got the starting job in Anaheim after the Ducks traded away former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastian Giguere. While the Ducks currently second place in the Western Conference they will most likely starting a major rebuild this offseason. They will probably be losing fantastic Finns Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne to retirement and could very easily lose Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to free agency.
If the Ducks think they have a serious chance to win the Cup then they wont think about moving any of those players to get an early jump on their rebuild. But Jonas Hiller who is quickly losing his starting job could net a nice return. With another season left on his contract, a manageable $4.5 million cap hit, and no no-trade clause there will probably be a handful of teams interested in Hiller. The two most likely candidates will be the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders. The Jackets have three first round picks, theirs, the Rangers, and the Kings, and would probably be willing to part with one of those picks and possibly either Steve Mason or Sergei Bobrovsky to bring in Jonas Hiller.
While the relationship between the Islanders and Ducks may be strained following the Visnovsky incident, I think they would be willing to part with one or two of their young assets to bring in a strong goaltender.
Miikka Kiprusoff, I think, will also be on the move this season. Calgary is off to a bad start and with Jerome Iginla in the last year of his contract and on the trading block the Flames are also heading towards a rebuild. But while both Calgary and Anaheim are heading towards rebuilds they are in very different scenarios. The Flames wont challenge for a playoff spot and will likely get a top five pick at the end of the season.
Likewise, the market for Miikka is far different than the market for Jonas Hiller.
If Kiprusoff is traded I believe he will go to a team that plans on making a run at the cup this season but may have issues or uncertainty in net. The Lightning have been one of the top teams in the East this season but are they really banking on Anders Lindback taking them on a cup run this season?
Another interesting option would be the San Jose Sharks. Kiprusoff is clearly an upgrade over Antti Niemi and with an aging team they will probably make any move to help them win the cup this year. Kiprusoff, who was drafted and played his first two NHL seasons with the Sharks, would turn the Sharks into the clear Stanley Cup favorites.
As I said earlier the key to trading a goaltender is making your move first. When the market for a goalie is barren or is only one team it could be tough sailing for the team trying to move their goaltender. Look at Vancouver’s attempt to move Luongo, because of his cap hit, contract length, and no trade clause, the market for Bobby Lu went down to one team very quickly.
Toronto had Vancouver over a barrel and because of that the Canucks couldn’t move their highly valuable asset. While that may have worked out for both teams (check out some of my earlier articles) the Canucks have an over abundance of goaltending.
If both Hiller and Kiprusoff are traded prior to Vancouver making a move they could be in a tough spot. If Ben Bishop or Jonathan Bernier are traded the Canucks could be stuck between a rock and a hard place; with one team markets for both Luongo AND Schneider AND a need to move one of them prior to the start of next season.
While Vancouver should be the first team trying to move on of their goaltenders I believe they will be the one team without a chair when the music stops and could be left with diminishing returns on one of there very valuable assets.
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