MONTREAL — The goalie carousel is getting closer. Type of.
Marc-André Fleury stayed in Minnesota, Ville Husso went to Detroit, Alexander Georgiev to Colorado and Vitek Vanecek to New Jersey.
That leaves two top UFAs in Jack Campbell and Darcy Kuemper with Toronto, Edmonton, Washington and possibly Buffalo looking for starting goalies.
No way the Capitals will make this trade on Friday without having a good idea of a replacement in goal. I believe the fit there is potentially Kuemper.
Either way, it was funny to hear Caps general manager Brian MacLellan concede that suddenly creating a need in the goal just five days before free agency opened might not have been ideal. .
“That probably wasn’t the smartest thing, was it?” MacLellan joked with reporters.
Yet it was necessary. Washington’s 1-2 goal wasn’t consistent enough last season and the Capitals general manager had to do something about it.
“We wanted to participate,” MacLellan said of the goalie market. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic met with Kuemper’s agent Ben Hankinson on Wednesday morning and while both sides said the meeting was cordial, what was evident was that Colorado knew that he could never meet the goalkeeper’s salary demands. So they pivoted and dealt for RFA Georgiev, who the Avalanche believe can be a true No. 1 starter. Sakic wants to sign him by the end of the weekend and was due to meet with the agent on Friday to discuss of the contract. There is no doubt that the contract is being made. This is an opportunity for Georgiev.
If Kuemper lands in Washington, and there’s no guarantee of that, it looks to be setting up a battle between the Maple Leafs and the Oilers for Campbell.
Edmonton’s No. 1 priority, bar none, is to have a goaltender.
“That’s the hope,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said Friday.
Seeing some goalies already off the market isn’t comforting for the Oilers, but Holland still feels confident.
“I don’t know how to handicap him, but I definitely have to find a goalkeeper,” he said. “We’re going to have Stuart Skinner and I have to find someone else. I don’t expect Mike Smith to be able to play.
“So we’re going to do our job here for the next four days and be ready to ride on Wednesday.”
It’s also worth remembering that if the Oilers eliminated Campbell, they offered Arizona a first-round pick for Kuemper a year ago before the Avalanche beat them for him.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas reiterated Friday that he plans to meet Campbell in person early next week. You have a feeling that this process needs a restart. Toronto now has wiggle room after a smart Dubas trade to dump Petr Mrazek and his cumbersome contract in Chicago on Thursday night. Of course, it was a smart move to make up for a failed signing a year ago in the first place.
There’s so much going on on the Leafs to determine the goalie position. It hovers over all of next season.
The question is what the Leafs will do if they can’t re-sign Campbell. Are they going after Kuemper? Or is it the trade route? Dubas was seen talking to Wild GM Bill Guerin during the draft on Friday. It’s hard not to think that Cam Talbot wasn’t among the topics discussed. More on that in a moment.
There’s also Matt Murray’s idea that’s been hanging around for a while now. Dubas and Senators general manager Pierre Dorion were also seen chatting Friday. Sources confirm that the two organizations have discussed this possibility a few times. I think for the Leafs it’s all about trying other options first.
Elsewhere in the goaltending market, there has been speculation about Jake Allen, but the Canadiens really like him and given the uncertainty with Carey Price, it would cost too much to get him out of Montreal. . I don’t feel like Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes really wants to move Allen.
Now let’s move on to Talbot. My colleague Michael Russo is everywhere. Talbot still has a year left on his contract and the Wild just brought Fleury back on a two-year deal. Talbot’s agent George Bazos met Guerin in the third round of the repechage on Friday.
“We both stated our positions,” Bazos told me. “Billy has a lot to think about.”
Presumably, it’s either getting an extension from nature or finding a new home.
Guerin gave a huge response to Russo on Friday and was certainly still a little intense when we chatted later, but more measured. Ultimately, the Wild has nothing to do with Talbot.
Guérin: “I have nothing to do. Cam Talbot is under contract. George can say whatever he wants. My team is ready right now, and that’s how it goes. We can have all the discussions we want. Cam is part of our team. We really like Cam. All we’re trying to do is win” https://t.co/F1CNuUH8je
—Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 8, 2022
“Look, like I said, he’s under contract, he’s a good guy, I’m not going to make a fuss about it,” Guerin told me. “Cam is a solid pro. Hurt feelings and stuff like that? It’s the NHL. Hey, my feelings were hurt as a player too.
The clear intention is to keep Talbot.
“Yeah, we love it,” Guerin said. “We like him very much. He is a very good goalkeeper and he is a quality person. It’s not always easy, is it? You have to work on some things. So listen, our goal is to win and if we have Cam Talbot or Marc-Andre Fleury in goal every night, we have a good chance. And with the way the program is as it is too, especially with the ages they both are, you can’t get into your 50s or near 60s to play games. It’s just not healthy, it’s not realistic.”
The Avalanche, meanwhile, have indicated they are willing to move Kuemper’s rights before he hits the market on Wednesday. That’s exactly what the Blues did Friday morning with a third-round pick for trading Husso’s rights to Detroit. I really like this gesture from Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. First of all, the contract was reasonable, three years and $4.75 million AAV. But second, Husso was the youngest of the UFA’s notable guards, which fits well with Detroit’s schedule.
It’s believed the Wings were also interested in Campbell, but given the uncertainty and competition for him, it seemed like the safest path for Detroit.
Real sneaky game here by Yzerman.
• Discussions between the Predators and Filip Forsberg’s agent, JP Barry, finally seemed to be starting, with the two teams meeting for the second day in a row on Friday. It seems to be back on track. Something around eight years and $8.5 million AAV seems to make sense if both parties can pull it off. But I would also like to reiterate that neither side thought it would drag on so long, so close to the market opening.
• Flames general manager Brad Treliving sent positive thoughts as he gave an update on Johnny Gaudreau’s situation after Friday’s draft, telling reporters he still believed he had a chance to make it sign the pending ACD. Treliving met with Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, on Thursday. I don’t believe this is a meeting that has produced much clarity so far. If I had to guess — and let me point out that I’m guessing here — it wouldn’t surprise me if Gross countered Calgary’s eight-year, $9.5 million AAV offer from six weeks ago by asking the north of $10 million AAV this week. Again, I don’t know if that’s true. But Gross has been around for a long time and is the No. 1 UFA on the market. The veteran agent understands his leverage with the countdown. How far is Calgary willing to go?
(Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today)
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