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A Search for the Right Goalie: The Trade Route, Part 1

The Caps are likely going to be in the market for a veteran goalie to take the place of one of their young netminders... so who could be on that list?

NHL: NOV 16 Capitals at Ducks Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week we looked at a handful of potential free-agent goalie options for the Caps... outside of that group, however, there’s not much in terms of starter-worthy netminders.

That leaves the trade route - never an easy option, especially when looking at starters, but it’s worth a look. So here’s our first set of potential trade targets

via JFresh

Gibson was an absolute menace in the league for a long time. From the time he entered the league at the age of 20 to the age of 25, he tore apart the NHL. In that span he played 228 games for a .921sv% and a +57.7GSAA. He was incredible and kept a very mediocre to bad Anaheim team in the playoff hunt every season. The issue is, over the last three seasons, he has really struggled. Not one season did he have above a .904sv% or -5GSAA. In that time, over 142 games played, he has a .904sv% and a -19.1GSAA. Add to this he’s had some injury issues and it isn’t pretty.

The good thing about Gibson is he will be 29 by the time next season starts, so he’s still youngish (or at least not old), though he has a lot of games under his belt still. He is also signed to a reasonable contract of $6.4M for the next five years, which covers Ovechkin’s win now mode for the Capitals. He will be just 33 when it ends, but Caps will only need him until he’s 32. 32 is plenty young to still play at a high level, if Gibson can get back to playing lights out.

Outside of his play over the last three years, the issue will probably be cost to acquire him. Anaheim will probably still hold him in high regard (even though Anthony Stolarz looked great this season) and ask for a boatload. If you think you can get the old Gibson then he’s surely worth whatever price that’s asked for him. Issue is he hasn’t been that way for the last three years so Capitals will need to be 100% certain they think they can get the best out of him.

via JFresh

Quick was known as one of the best goalies in his prime but, like most goalies, after 32 he started to decline. His three previous seasons before the 2021-2022 season he played 110 games and posted a .896sv% and a -40.9GSAA. That’s terrible but he did make a good comeback this season posting a .910sv% and a +3.4GSAA in 46 games. That’s not amazing but still good.

He only has one more year on his contract at $5.8M but still, he’s 36 and, just until this season, was declining hard. Unless Caps can get a great deal for him, it’s probably not worth acquiring. And they probably won’t get a great deal for him because the Kings have plenty of cap room and have a legacy love for Quick. The only thing that might make them push him out is they signed Cal Petersen to a three year $5M deal starting this upcoming season. They may want to give Cal most the starts.

via JFresh

A previous Cap draft pick, Varlamov has always been quietly very good. Over his career he has a .916sv% and a +75.8GSAA in 560 games. His last three seasons with the Islanders have been very strong. In 112 games he has .918sv% and a +32.8GSAA. He’s 34 so he isn’t young but there’s still probably some good years left in him.

Like Quick he has just one more year on his contract at $5M. But unlike Quick’s situation, the Islanders have a very tough cap issue and need to shed money. They have a solid young goaltender ready to be the starter in Ilya Sorokin so they won’t miss Varlamov at all. The Islanders are within the division so don’t know if that will increase the price, but if the Capitals are okay getting one year out of Varlamov until one of their young guys are ready it could certainly be worth the price.

via JFresh

Caps should remember Talbot as a backup for Henrik Lundqvist and playing extremely well. He went from there to the Oilers who played the hell out of him and wore him out (he had a 73 and 67 games played season there). He had a quick four game stop in Philadelphia but the last three seasons he played in Calgary and Minnesota putting together a nice run. His last three seasons, in 108 games he has a .914sv% and a +20.1GSAA.

For some reason, Minnesota went out this year’s deadline and snagged Fleury who started the playoffs before Talbot came in the last game and lost. Talbot was not happy with this and made it known publicly he didn’t. The Wild’s GM came out and says he wants both Fleury and Talbot back but Talbot might not like that. If the Caps are looking for a decent vet they could probably pry him away.

Talbot will be 36 at the start of next season and only has one more year on his deal at a reasonable $3.6M cap hit. He won’t be any type of long term answer for the Caps but with all the older players on this list on one years deals they’d at least give you one year of stability.

via JFresh

Nedeljkovic made headlines last season making it third on the Calder ballot for best rookie when playing with Carolina. In 23 games he had a .932sv% and a +15.7GSAA. But over the summer he was traded to Detroit and he has struggled in his sophomore year playing 59 games and ending with a .901sv% and -11GSAA. Not good.

Any team that trades for him will be banking on that he can return to his rookie form. He’s only 26 and has one more year on his deal at $3M cap hit, which is very tantalizing. This is a lot like the Husso signing, it’s a bit more of an unknown but if you can make it work you would be getting a great young goalie on a low cap hit. It would be just for one year but could always re-sign.

This is also relying on Detroit even wanting to trade him. They may want to keep him because they too believe he can play like he did his rookie season. Detroit is no rush to try to become a great team so they can wait on him. On the other hand, they might lose him in free agency to nothing so instead of waiting until the trade deadline and him possibly playing worse and losing worth, they could be open to moving him this summer.

Stay tuned for the final part of this trilogy later this week with a look at one more handful of potential netminding upgrades for the Caps!