Though it has been rumored that the Golden Knights will not be exploring goaltending options despite the season ending injury to Robin Lehner, we have come to learn with this management group to expect the unexpected.
Despite the rumors of general manager Kelly McCrimmon not targeting a goaltender ahead of the 2022-23 season, it is hard to believe he hasn’t made any calls. Simply put, if his club misses the playoffs once again this next year, he will undoubtedly be fired. Going into the season with Logan Thompson and Michael Hutchinson is, quite frankly, a bad idea, and one that he needs to change to give what is an otherwise very good roster a shot at a Stanley Cup. Here are a few netminders he could look to target to do just that.
After failing to make any moves this offseason, the pressure is on for Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders. This is a team that lacks offensive talent, though they do have the luxury of having two number one goalies under contract.
27-year-old Ilya Sorokin has established himself as the team’s future in net, and put together a 2021-22 season that had some believing he should have been a Vezina Trophy candidate. His rise has resulted in less playing time for Semyon Varlamov, who is an interesting trade target for many teams given that he is still very much capable of being a number one netminder and only has one season remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5 million.
As mentioned, the Islanders desperately need to add some talent up front, so perhaps McCrimmon can convince Lamoriello to ship Varlamov to the Islanders in exchange for a player like William Karlsson. Karlsson only earns $900,000 more a year, though he does have four additional seasons remaining on that contract, meaning a sweetener such as a draft pick may need to be thrown in as well. At the very least, it’s worth trying if you’re the Golden Knights and McCrimmon in search of goaltending options.
The San Jose Sharks have a problem in that they simply have too many NHL goaltenders under contract for the 2022-23 season. It has become clear that one of James Reimer or Adin Hill will soon be on the move, as the organization believes Kappo Kahkonen to be their number one moving forward.
For the Golden Knights sake, acquiring Reimer makes plenty more sense. He wouldn’t cost much, if any more than Hill, and is far more proven. Not only has he played 432 games at the NHL level, but he is still playing good hockey at the age of 34. In 48 games with a bad San Jose Sharks team last season, he put up a respectable 2.90 goals against average (GAA) paired with a .911 save percentage (SV%).
Acquiring Reimer and his $2.25 million salary will require a bit of maneuvering by McCrimmon, as his team currently sits roughly $5.5 million over the maximum allowable cap hit. That said, $5 million of that will soon come off as Lehner is set to head to long-term injured reserve. Still, that wouldn’t provide enough room to bring on Reimer just yet, as the Sharks are believed to be interested in moving either goalie for picks only, as they are in a bit of a cap dilemma themselves. Nonetheless, McCrimmon has tip toed his way around this very same issue in the past, and should be able to figure out a way to do so again.
The recent news of Carey Price missing the start and possibly all of the 2022-23 season might make the Montreal Canadiens hesitant on trading Jake Allen, but it is an option worth exploring for McCrimmon. Given that the Habs are clearly still in the early stages of a rebuild, going with a Sam Montembeault/Cayden Primeau tandem would help ensure they get a great draft pick in what is projected to be a very deep 2023 class.
Though Allen’s numbers of a 3.30 GAA along with a .905 SV% last season don’t inspire a ton of confidence, they are more of a reflection on the team in front of him than him himself. The 32-year-old was brought into Montreal prior to the 2020-21 season to serve as a backup to Price, but has several seasons as starting goaltender under his belt during his time with the St. Louis Blues.
What makes Allen so attractive for the Golden Knights, similar to Reimer, is his contract. He too has just one season remaining on a very friendly deal that carries a cap hit of just $2.875 million. By no means is he as talented a goalie as Lehner, but he is a much better option than Hutchinson and would be a great mentor for Thompson.
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