Playing goalie matchmaker ahead of the NHL trade deadline

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I love talking ‘tendy. And Frank Seravalli just laid down the gauntlet on the goalie market in advance of the NHL’s Mar. 21 trade deadline. So I thought it would be fun to take a look around the NHL and play Cupid.

This exercise is all about finding the right fit. Cap space is for teams to worry about, not me. If an NHL club wants or needs a goaltender bad enough, it’s on them to make it work.

Swipe right means it’s a match. Swipe left means rejection. Love is in the air!

Toronto Maple Leafs

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe right

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe right

Anton Forsberg: swipe right

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

The Leafs need help immediately. They don’t need another project or pending RFA like Georgiev. And that’s why Fleury, Holtby, and Forsberg all make sense. All three have played well this season. They’re plug-and-play, read-to-go goaltenders with the potential to make immediate impacts. With the recent announcement that Jack Campbell will miss at least the next two weeks with a rib injury – and Petr Mrazek’s poor play – Toronto needs to make a move in goal.

Edmonton Oilers

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe right

Anton Forsberg: swipe right

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

How would the Edmonton Oilers be able to convince Marc-Andre Fleury to come? I don’t think they can, so that potential trade is a non-starter in my book. Oilers GM Ken Holland should have made a deal for Ottawa Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg two months ago. He’s got a cheap cap hit and has played lights out for a bad team. Forsberg would be a no-risk acquisition. If it works, Holland looks like a genius. If it doesn’t, at least he tried something. And trading for Forsberg probably wouldn’t cost much. Braden Holtby would be my backup plan. Holland simply cannot sit idle with his goalie situation. It’s been the elephant in the room all season.

Seattle Kraken

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe right

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe right

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

Seattle’s woes in goal have been surprising. This is the first poor season of Philipp Grubauer’s career. He looks completely lost. And Chris Driedger hasn’t been much better. I think Seattle is best served finding a young-ish goaltender to pair alongside Grubauer, someone with a cap hit in the $2-3 million range and a positive attitude. Forsberg is a tad older than I’d like in Seattle, but he’d bring stability. He knows how to perform in a challenging setting. 

Blackwood would be more of a gamble. But Seattle has time. Maybe they could unlock the potential Blackwood has shown at times with the New Jersey Devils. Georgiev would also be a logistical fit. But his body language has been so poor this season. I’m not sure if his personality aligns with what the Kraken are trying to build.

Vegas Golden Knights

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe right

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe right

Anton Forsberg: swipe left

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

Things just got really juicy in Vegas with the recent revelation that Robin Lehner is nursing a lower-body injury and is in need of crutches. He also has a torn labrum in his shoulder. There’s no way Vegas is comfortable with Lehner’s health, and the Golden Knights are now in jeopardy of not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Braden Holtby makes a lot of sense – especially considering his resume. He was the Washington Capitals’ starting goalie in 2018 when his team beat Vegas in the Stanley Cup final. I also think Georgiev fits. Vegas isn’t trying to build a culture any longer. It’s trying to win. Georgiev would be energized. He’s at his best when playing often, and that might be exactly what Vegas needs.

Washington Capitals

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe right

Anton Forsberg: swipe left

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

There aren’t many viable options for the Capitals. Washington’s goaltending has been subpar this season as a whole, but there has been an upward trajectory to Vitek Vanecek’s game. And now that he’s healthy again, I think the crease has stabilized. The real concern is Ilya Samsonov. I’m not convinced he’ll ever live up to his first-round draft status. A veteran presence, even as backup to Vanecek, would help head coach Peter Laviolette sleep at night. A reunion with Braden Holtby makes sense. He’s a utility man at this stage of his career, able to start or back up when called upon.

Minnesota Wild

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe right

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe left

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

If the GM Bill Guerin decides to wade into the goalie market, I think there’s only one option: Fleury. Minnesota’s goaltending has been hot and cold this year – which is really just a reflection of the team itself. Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen have both had stretches of solid play. But I’m not sure the Wild truly believe they can win the Stanley Cup with either goaltender. Fleury would be an instant boost. The Twin Cities are a quick flight from Chicago, where Fleury’s family resides. But would the future Hall of Famer agree to the trade? Are the Wild enough of a contender? I’m not sold.

Colorado Avalanche

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe left

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe right

I think the Avalanche are set in goal at the NHL level with Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz. If Colorado is looking for anything, it should be depth. Lindgren was outstanding this year in limited action for the St. Louis Blues. He went 5-0-0 and became something of a folk hero in The Gateway City, earning the nickname Chucky Sideburns. He has a career. 913 save percentage in 29 NHL appearances and is 16-3-1 with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds this season. Lindgren is the best third-string option on the market.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe left

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe left

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe right

Jaroslav Halak: swipe right

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

Sorry Penguins fans, I don’t think Marc-Andre Fleury is coming back to the Steel City. But I do think the team would like to add a backup to support Tristan Jarry, who’s been phenomenal this season. Forsberg makes a lot of sense. And despite a poor season in Vancouver so far, Halak’s experience is valuable. A change of scenery would be good for the Slovak netiminder.

New Jersey Devils

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe right

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe right

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe left

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe right

There’s a couple ways to look at this. If the Devils are looking for a short-term fix, Lindgren makes a lot of sense. New Jersey desperately needs help in goal. And Nico Daws needs to be in the AHL developing. Long-term, I think Korpisalo and Georgiev would be worth considering. To me, Georgiev is closer to being an NHL starter. And he’s young enough that the Devils could grow with him. Korpisalo may be more mature, but he is in dire need of a technical overhaul. Korpisalo has the raw skills, but his game needs more structure. The Devils would have to be extremely confident in their goalie coaching department to take on that big of a project.

Arizona Coyotes

Marc-Andre Fleury: swipe left

Alexandar Georgiev: swipe left

Mackenzie Blackwood: swipe right

Joonas Korpisalo: swipe right

Braden Holtby: swipe left

Anton Forsberg: swipe right

Jaroslav Halak: swipe left

Charlie Lindgren: swipe left

Somehow the Coyotes uncovered a diamond in the rough with Karel Vejmelka, who’s done an admirable job despite zero experience in North America prior to this season. He’s a tireless worker with a great attitude. But he needs someone to be paired with. I could easily see Blackwood, Korpisalo, or Forsberg ending up in Arizona alongside him. Blackwood has a year left on his contract at $2.8 million. Korpisalo and Forsberg are both UFA’s at the end of the current NHL season: I could see this being a trade-and-sign situation for either of them.

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