The Dallas Stars have carried three goaltenders in Braden Holtby, Jake Oettinger and Anton Khudobin since mid-November. With Bren Bishop inching closer to returning from knee surgery, Khudobin appears to be the odd man out.
Bishop hasn't played since the 2020 playoffs. The 35-year-old netminder is with their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint to determine his readiness to come off long-term injury reserve. The Dallas Morning News' Matthew DeFranks reports they must free up over $4.9 million if Bishop is ready to return.
DeFranks believes the likeliest route is trading Khudobin ($3.33 million annual cap hit) and demote a waiver-exempt player such as Oettinger or forward Jacob Peterson. Khudobin, 35, replaced Bishop during the 2020 postseason and backstopped the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final. However, he's struggled this season and was a healthy scratch in their last five games.
Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported Saturday the Stars spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about Khudobin. DeFranks also suggested the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Seattle Kraken could use a goalie. He felt the Stars might have to include a sweetener as an enticement.
The Sabres probably aren't a fit after acquiring Malcolm Subban and calling up Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen after Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski were sidelined by injuries. The Blackhawks' and Penguins' goaltending has improved. The Wings seem content with Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss while the Kraken continues to stick with Philipp Grubauer, Chris Driedger and Joey Daccord.
Injuries have also shelved the Canadiens' Carey Price, the Rangers' Igor Shesterkin and the Avalanche's Darcy Kuemper. So far, those clubs show not an indication they're in the market for help between the pipes.