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Rumour Roundup: Goalies On The Move

With the 2017 NHL trading deadline fast approaching (3 PM Eastern on March 1st), the flurry of action has already begun. For a trade market that was supposed to be quiet for goaltender movement, we have already seen three included in deals leading up to the deadline – with a handful of other names rumoured to be available.

Who has been moved

The Tampa Bay Lightning struck first on Sunday night, when General Manager Steve Yzerman moved big Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings. Even with his impending UFA status, and the general disappointment of the 2016-17 season for the Lightning – the move comes as a bit of a surprise.

In return for Bishop, the Lightning received Peter Budaj, who was in the midst of a career renaissance with the Kings. His .917 save percentage in 53 games this year caught everyone by surprise. Adding further intrigue into the deal, the Kings also welcomed Jonathan Quick back to the lineup for the first time since opening day after being out of the lineup with a groin injury. The move gives the Kings two playoff-experienced netminders on their roster.

The acquisition of Bishop also leaves the Kings with a backup plan if one of their goaltenders should go down with an injury. Although that is an added bonus, that was not the reason the trade was made, according to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi:

“This is not an insurance policy,” Lombardi said. “It is a way that we think to make sure that Jon is broken in properly, and make sure we’re in position to win every game down the stretch. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of room for error … and we want to make sure we have a No. 1 goalie in there every night.”

The Kings currently sit two points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final wildcard playoff spot in the Western Conference.

For the Lightning, this doesn’t signal a white flag, but rather a passing of the torch to the 22-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy. With Steven Stamkos close to returning, the Lightning could still make a playoff push, but they’ll need Vasilevskiy start posting better numbers than the .912 save percentage he has given them in 33 games this year so far.

To round out the trade, the Lightning sent a 2017 5th-round pick along with Bishop to the Kings for Budaj, defenceman prospect Erik Cernak, a 2017 7th-round pick, and an additional conditional pick in 2017.

In another surprising move, Pheonix Copley was sent back to the organization that drafted him. He was included as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk deal between Washington and St. Louis on Monday night. Copley was originally acquired by St. Louis in the T.J. Oshie trade, but was effectively blocked from progressing in the Blues system by Jake Allen, Ville Husso, and to a lesser extent, Jordan Binnington.

The Capitals were seemingly more than happy to re-acquire him for a variety of reasons. Not only is their goaltending coach Mitch Korn a fan of working with the big 6-foot-4 Copley, it also gives the team some flexibility if they happen to lose Philipp Grubauer in the Las Vegas expansion draft this offseason. Grubauer will likely be left unprotected, and Copley is more than able to step in and fill the void.

The return price for Copley and Shattenkirk was a 1st-round pick in 2017, forward Zach Sanford, forward Brad Malone, and conditional pick(s).

What are the rumours?

(InGoal photo by Clint Trahan)

Ryan Miller‘s name has been thrown around in trade rumours all season long, and it will all be coming to a head in the next day or so. Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning received a lot of flak for not dealing veteran players who were at the end of their contracts last season. He seems to be turning over a new leaf this year, if the trade of Alex Burrows to Ottawa is any indication.

Miller is a UFA, but has a very short list of teams that he is willing to be traded to. He would preferably like to stay on the west coast, which limits the options, but it looks like a deal still may be done. Rumours persist that the San Jose Sharks would like some insurance behind Martin Jones, despite Aaron Dell quietly posting a .934 save percentage in a backup role this season. The other team that may have interest is the Calgary Flames, who have been unimpressed with their tandem of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson this season.

Jaroslav Halak is another name that has been mentioned in trade rumours this week. Even though he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL earlier this year, there are teams that are kicking tires on the 31-year-old Slovak.

The main reason a trade makes sense rather than claiming him for free when he was on waivers, is the fact that the Islanders can retain part of his salary in a trade. Halak is sporting a .933 save percentage in 18 games with Bridgeport, so that certainly helps his cause. The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Boston Bruins are all teams that are said to be interested in his services.

Could this be a ploy by Edmonton or Calgary to bring down the asking price of Miller? Only time will tell as we get closer to the deadline!

All seems to be quiet on the Marc-André Fleury trade front. At the beginning of the season, most people would have suggested that he would surely be traded by the deadline – but that may not end up being the case. Matt Murray is not undertaking any kind of sophomore slump, and started in the Penguins latest outdoor game, which all but signifies that he will be the go-to guy down the stretch.

Fleury’s situation is a difficult one for the Penguins. Due to his no-trade clause, he needs to be protected for the expansion draft – but he can’t be dealt to another team without his approval. Is that possibly affecting what the Penguins are receiving from trade offers? It’s likely.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario as the voice of the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.

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