Author: Ryan Dadoun

Antti Niemi

Even after flurry of trades, goalie market is far from settled


There were seven different trades over the course of Friday and Saturday that involved a goaltender, but even after that there are teams that still need to address their situation between the pipes. With the free agent period just around the corner and the trade market now in full swing, the pieces are likely to continue to fall into place rapidly. While we have a breather though, let’s take a look at where we stand.

Has Dallas addressed its goaltending needs?

Kari Lehtonen failed to live up to expectations last season so the Dallas Stars would naturally like to hedge their bets going forward. They’ve already taken a step towards that end by acquiring the rights to Antti Niemi from San Jose, but it remains to be seen if they can sign the netminder before he become an unrestricted free agent.

If they do sign Niemi, that might not settle their goaltending situation. He has spent the better part of his career serving as a starter and while his last two seasons haven’t been amazing, it’s likely that he’ll expect a significantly bigger salary than your typical backup. Which isn’t an issue by itself, but Dallas is still tied to Lehtonen for another three seasons at $5.9 million in cap space annually. That means Dallas will be dedicating a lot of its cap to goaltending and that’s something that may complicate matters for the squad unless it’s addressed.

What’s next for San Jose?

Meanwhile, San Jose still needs someone to work with Alex Stalock. The 27-year-old netminder had a 2.62 GAA and .902 save percentage in 22 games last season, so ideally the Sharks will want someone that can at least seriously challenge him for the starting job.

There are some noteworthy pending UFAs out there including Viktor Fasth, Karri Ramo, and Michal Neuvirth, but it’s also possible San Jose will make another trade.

“We’ve been exploring things for quite awhile, a lot of it in the trade market obviously,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson told CSN Bay Area. “As we’ve looked at it, we think there’s probably more goalies than there are teams. There’s more people that are available or could be available in discussions than you guys probably hear about.”

Who will be Steve Mason’s backup in Philadelphia?

With Ray Emery’s contract set to expire, the Flyers are in the market for a backup goaltender. They didn’t want to take part in the flurry of goaltending trades though.

“I didn’t want to give up an asset for a backup, quite honestly,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall told CSN Philly. “Did I talk to anybody? People called and I found out the prices.”

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Philadelphia find its number two netminder on the free agent market.

Anaheim has created something of a logjam

When the Anaheim Ducks acquired Anton Khudobin from Carolina, it led some to naturally wonder if 21-year-old goaltender John Gibson was on the block. Ducks GM Bob Murray’s response was not family friendly, but the short version of his answer is: No.

So we can only assume that this issue won’t be addressed this summer, which makes it unique among the goaltending situations discussed here. Even still, it is awkward as this likely means that Gibson will be expected to spend the 2015-16 campaign in the minors after posting a decent 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage in 23 games with Anaheim last season. This might just be a short-term setback for him though as Khudobin only has a year left on his contract before he can test the unrestricted free agent market.

Lightning sign forwards Marchessault, Hart

Jonathan Marchessault

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Brian Hart.

Marchessault, 24, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract. He spent the bulk of the 2014-15 campaign in the AHL where he scored 24 goals and 67 points in 68 contests. However, he was also used twice during Tampa Bay’s playoff run and averaged 11:27 minutes per game during that stretch. Prior to that, he scored his first career NHL goal on April 11 against Boston.

Hart is turning pro now that he’s armed with a three-year, entry-level contract. The 21-year-old spent the last three campaigns with Harvard, scoring 18 goals and 50 points in 98 career NCAA games.

Tampa Bay originally selected him with the 53rd overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

The Lightning have no shortage of restricted free agents that still need to be addressed, including Vladislav Namestnikov, Mark Barberio, and Andrej Sustr.

UFA of the Day: Cody Franson


Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Cody Franson

He set new career-highs in 2014-15 with seven goals and 36 points in 78 contests, which is in a way remarkable given how rough his reunion with Nashville went. The 27-year-old defenseman already had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto before he was sent to the Predators on Feb. 15 along with Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and what turned out to be the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Philadelphia and used to draft Travis Konecny).

At the time, Nashville was leading the Presidents’ Trophy race and setting the stage for what it hoped would be a lengthy playoff run. Nashville struggled following the trade though and Franson was limited to just 15:25 minutes per contest after averaging 21:23 minutes in Toronto.

In retrospect, Predators GM David Poile felt Franson wasn’t a good fit and he consequently won’t be back for the 2015-16 campaign.

That shouldn’t sour other clubs towards him though as an offensive defenseman with a right-handed shot tends to draw attention. The British Columbia-native has shown an interest in Vancouver and also is hoping that Toronto wants him back.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks might be in the mix as well.