- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
The NHL trade deadline is March 21. But the moves we will see then are rooted in discussions that begin now.
In fact, now that we’ve passed American Thanksgiving — the threshold many front offices use to assess whether their team will be a playoff team — trade chatter around the league is beginning to pick up.
Here’s what I’m hearing after working the phones the past two weeks:
The goalie market is poised to be a busy one
Everyone I’ve talked to expects the Blue Jackets to part with Joonas Korpisalo. The 27-year-old was once viewed as the heir apparent to Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus. But Elvis Merzlikins is firmly in the No. 1 spot, and about to begin a five-year, $27 million extension next season. And thanks to Columbus’ deep goaltending prospect pool, headlined by 22-year-old Daniil Tarasov, pending unrestricted free agent Korpisalo is prime for a fresh start.
The Dallas Stars, who have four NHL-caliber goaltenders on their roster, are another team on which folks in the leagues have their eye. The expectation is that the Stars will move one of their goalies once Ben Bishop is healthy. Considering they view Jake Oettinger as their goaltender of the future, and Braden Holtby has played well (at a low cap hit), Anton Khudobin could be the goalie on the move.
So what teams need goalies? The Sabres were in the market, but after they traded for Malcolm Subban, it’s unclear if they’re still looking to add. Toronto likely will look for insurance given Petr Mrazek’s poor injury luck to begin the season. Edmonton also would like to add at the position, and Arizona is a team that could be in play — especially because it has the ability to take on cap money, if it means future assets coming its way (specifically draft picks).
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