Goaltending is an issue both the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets need to address this offseason.
The New York Rangers have one goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, signed to a long-term deal with a no-movement clause, which protects him from the Las Vegas expansion draft, and another, Antti Raanta, who had a very strong regular season in an expanded No. 2 role and has one year left on a very affordable two-year, $2 million contract.
So, it should come as no surprise that these three clubs, as well as Raanta, are the subject of the latest trade speculation.
The Flames and the Jets are believed to be among the clubs who have contacted the Rangers regarding a pre-expansion draft trade for Raanta, but management has not yet committed to dealing him or has not yet received an offer pushing them to that conclusion.
The Flames made moves to address their goaltending situation last summer, bringing in Brian Elliott in a trade and signing Chad Johnson as an unrestricted free agent. But Elliott struggled early and then struggled again in the playoffs, with an .880 save percentage as the Flames were swept in the opening round. Both Elliott and Johnson are pending unrestricted free agents.
Since then, it’s been suggested the Flames could go after Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason. Fleury’s mind is a little preoccupied right now, as Pittsburgh looks to capture the Stanley Cup tonight in Game 6 versus Nashville.
The Jets have been able to stockpile a crop of talented young forwards through the draft, but goaltending has been pointed at as a weakness of this club. They do have a promising prospect, Eric Comrie, in the minors. But he’s still 21 years old and may need more time developing his game in the AHL before he’s ready to step into the NHL full-time. Meanwhile, Ondrej Pavelec is a pending unrestricted free agent, Connor Hellebuyck is a pending restricted free agent and Michael Hutchinson has one year left on his current deal before he’s a pending UFA.
It’s been reported that the Jets plan to protect Hellebuyck in the upcoming expansion draft.
Raanta has never played more than 30 games in a single season since breaking into the NHL with Chicago in 2013. But he does have a career save percentage of .917 over 94 career games, and a .922 save percentage last season with the Rangers. He also posted four shutouts, as coach Alain Vigneault decided to ride the hot hand with Lundqvist struggling at one point in the season.