- Editor's note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California's Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.
The Sharks have one goalie too many.
Kaapo Kähkönen, James Reimer and Adin Hill all have credible claims for NHL playing time. The 25-year-old Kähkönen, just acquired at the trade deadline for Jake Middleton, appears to be the anointed one though: He’s expected to enter the season as the Sharks’ starter.
That leaves Reimer or Hill likely in the cold.
So what are likely trade destinations for either goalie?
I spoke with eight beat writers from eight NHL cities -- Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports; Joe Yerdon of Bleacher Report, Noted Hockey and Maintenance Day; Taylor Baird of Defending Big D; Dane Mizutani of St. Paul Pioneer Press; Sam Carchidi of Philly Hockey Now; Rob Simpson of Vancouver Hockey Now; Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now; and Sammi Silber of Washington Hockey Now -- to gauge their team’s interest in Reimer or Hill.
Before we get into whether the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights or Washington Capitals might have interest in Reimer or Hill, let’s try to establish each keeper’s trade value.
Reimer, 34, enjoyed a strong campaign with the Sharks and has another season on his contract with a $2.25 million Average Annual Value. Hill, 26, struggled to stay healthy and has one more year with a $2.175 million AAV.
A source told San Jose Hockey Now that the Sharks’ asking price for Reimer in recent trade talks was a second-round pick.
It’s harder to gauge Hill’s trade value because he played just one game in the last three months of the season. A source did indicate to SJHN recently that Hill is healthy and expected to be ready for training camp. Sources suggest if the Sharks are motivated to move Hill, they might fetch a fourth-rounder at best, a fifth more likely.
Keep in mind, too, that it has been a month since the beginning of free agency: Most goaltending seats have been taken.
So while a second-rounder, based on past offseason trades, is a fair value for a 1A-1B netminder like Reimer, the Sharks could have trouble commanding that in this market. Will they end up taking less to clear up the logjam in net?
All that said, there are teams that still need goaltending. From most likely to least likely, let’s run through the possible destinations for Reimer and Hill.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have just lost starter Robin Lehner for the season because of a hip injury, and they have another goalie, backup Laurent Brossoit, on the mend after offseason hip surgery. At the moment, there’s no word on if Brossoit will be ready by camp.
At least Logan Thompson is still healthy. The 25-year-old acquitted himself well last year when pressed into duty because of injuries to Lehner and Brossoit.
“I think right now the Golden Knights are going to wait things out and see how good Logan Thompson truly is. I could see them going after a goalie only if something goes wrong to start the season,” Krepps said.
This is assuming Brossoit is ready to rock in a month.
“My guess is they’d rather stick with Brossoit and Thompson than give up a second for Reimer,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “Would imagine they’d be more in the market for a true starter [instead of Reimer].”
If Brossoit isn’t ready, Vegas could start the season with Thompson-Michael Hutchinson. Not that they would want that.
“If that happens,” Krepps said, “I could see them trading a pick for a goalie.”
Would it be Reimer or Hill?
Reimer, representing the reliable option, makes a lot more sense for a team that fancies itself a contender.
“I’m sure they would want someone with less question marks going into the season,” an NHL executive said of Hill.
The top three goalies on the Coyotes' roster, Karel Vejmelka, Ivan Prosvetov, and Jon Gillies, have combined for 90 NHL appearances. Vejmelka accounts for most of them, appearing in 52 games in his rookie campaign last year. It’s an open question between Prosvetov and Gillies if either belong in the NHL.
So would they embrace Hill for a low pick?
Arizona knows him -- they traded their 2015 third-round pick Hill to San Jose for a 2022 second-round pick last offseason. He should be cheap, so if he performs in the desert, it will be easy to flip him for a higher pick at the trade deadline.
“He certainly fits the profile as somebody who could split time with Vejmelka,” Morgan noted, “but they will also be watching the waiver wire and free agents who get desperate as camp approaches.”
That makes sense for the Coyotes, who clearly have no interest in putting their best foot forward for a playoff push.
Another NHL executive cautioned, anyway, about shipping Hill out: “I don’t think the Sharks would sell low on Hill. He can be a manageable backup, which they need. So why not trade the older, more valuable goalie [in Reimer] that is UFA after this season?”
San Jose Sharks
Dallas and RFA Jake Oettinger, the Stars’ starting goalie for now and in the future, are at a contract impasse.
That leaves journeyman Scott Wedgewood and maybe Anton Khudobin to hold down the fort in Oettinger’s absence.
Perhaps Hill could be an intriguing option for a team looking to bide time before the return of their top dog?
“My gut says no to this,” Baird shared. “They’ve got Anton Khudobin still under contract for this season, even if they buried him in the AHL last season. He had hip surgery in March, so he should be ready for camp.
“If Oettinger talks drag on, I don’t see them taking on another contract unless they can move a contract or two to fit [the new goalie] and Oettinger and [fellow RFA] Jason Robertson.”
Well, unless Dallas is prepared to trot out Wedgewood-Khudobin in October, they better get things moving with Oettinger. The Stars clinched a playoff spot in their second-to-last game of the season last year, so they’re not exactly a group with a significant margin for error.
The Flyers’ backup situation is in flux, with Russian prospect Ivan Fedotov being arrested in Saint Petersburg for reportedly evading military service. His preliminary hearing begins on Sept. 20, or the beginning of training camp. However…
“Unless they put Ryan Ellis on LTIR, they have no cap room,” Carchidi offered. “At this point, I think they’ll go with Felix Sandstrom as the backup. [General manager] Chuck Fletcher would get crucified if he traded a second-rounder in a deep 2023 draft for a backup goalie. The Flyers are going nowhere, and adding a better backup will only improve them marginally.”
That doesn’t seem to eliminate Reimer or Hill, if San Jose lowers their ask for Reimer or Philadelphia likes Hill. Young Carter Hart, who has struggled with consistency over the last two years, might also benefit from having a steady veteran hand around.
Spencer Martin put up a gaudy .950 save percentage behind Thatcher Demko last year, but that was in just six games played. Martin’s NHL track record before last season? Three appearances in 2016-17.
Safe to say, Martin is not the safest backup option available to a Canucks squad seeking to return to the playoffs.
“Right now, I think they’re content rolling into camp,” Simpson countered. “They also traded for Collin Delia from Chicago. Not the answer really, but a bit more depth and a challenger for Martin.”
Delia has played 32 games over parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks.
Marc-Andre Fleury is the kingpin in Minnesota, but young Filip Gustavsson, who went 5-12-1 last year in Ottawa, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. Granted, the Wild are close to the cap, and Gustavsson is making close to the minimum.
Mizutani made a good point: “It sounds like general manager Bill Guerin truly believes in Filip Gustavsson. Remember, he was a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins front office that drafted Gustavsson.”
He added: “If the Wild use their limited cap space, which I think they will, I think it will be on a forward, not a goaltender.”
I mean, the Sabres should be worrying about their goaltending, right?
Craig Anderson is 41 years old and 27-year-old Eric Comrie has 28 NHL games, spaced over six seasons, under his belt.
Save for Arizona, this could be the worst goaltending duo in the league. Of course, the Sabres, like the Coyotes, aren’t exactly pushing for the postseason.
But could Hill be a reasonable upside bet for Buffalo?
“In my mind, a guy like Reimer would’ve been a super addition because he fits the character profile they’re aiming for, it’s not a heavy commitment in years or money, and above all he’s solid. But retaining Anderson blocks that road, in my eyes,” Yerdon said. “Hill would’ve made sense had they not landed Comrie because it would’ve been a similar storyline with Hill. He’d have the opportunity to prove himself and potentially play a ton of games.”
The Caps turned over their goaltending room this summer, letting Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek go and signing Stanley Cup winner Darcy Kuemper to start and Charlie Lindgren to back up.
So this would seem to be an unlikely destination, though it’s worth noting that the 28-year-old Lindgren has just 29 NHL games under his belt in parts of six seasons.
“No on this,” Silber said about adding Reimer or Hill, “Caps don’t have the space with all their LTIR names and Lindgren is the surefire No. 2.”
Lindgren is on a three-year deal, albeit a small one, with a $1.1 million dollar AAV.