As much as the stagnant salary cap has the possibility to effect rosters this off-season, the impending expansion draft is weighing just as heavily on roster decisions that will be made over the course of the off-season.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has already spoken about the potential expansion draft and the effect it could have on Pittsburgh goaltending situation with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray both having claims to the starting job, and one of Rutherford’s fellow GMs, Anaheim Ducks architect Bob Murray, is in a similar spot.
With John Gibson, 22, the presumptive future in goal for Anaheim, it appears to have made restricted free agent Frederik Andersen, 26, a potentially expendable piece of the Ducks roster. And even though Murray said he has been talking contract with Andersen, the Ducks GM realizes that, eventually, something is going to have to give.
"If I can get Freddie signed one way or the other, I’ve got to move one (goaltender) because I’ll lose one for sure in expansion," Murray told the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens. "It just will happen. It’s just something that’s in front of us. It’s there. We have a lot of defensemen. So we have to turn some of these things into assets.”
One would think Murray would be used to being in this position, though, as it’s one that has come to pass a few times in the past several seasons in Anaheim.
When Murray came aboard with the Ducks, the goal was Jean-Sebatien Giguere’s. Eventually, Giguere would be challenged by Ilya Bryzgalov, but Giguere won out and remained the starter. Giguere would be pushed out of the starting job when Jonas Hiller came along, however, which was followed by Hiller’s presence as the team’s starter being threatened by Viktor Fasth. But it was Fasth moved out and Hiller kept as the starter. Then came Andersen along to push out Hiller, and the same fate could befall Andersen if it’s Gibson the Ducks choose to roll with in goal.
Turning Andersen into assets shouldn’t be too difficult, though. He hasn’t been one of the league’s elite goaltenders, but Andersen has had three solid seasons as a pro. The Calgary Flames are in immediate need of goaltending help, and there are a few other teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, who could use goaltending help next season.
Trading Gibson seems like the less likely scenario even though his numbers have been eerily close to Andersen’s. Gibson was a second-round pick, though, and an asset that the Ducks have carefully groomed, whereas Andersen was a third-rounder who burst onto the scene.
The best thing, though, is that Murray has some time. It’s clear he wants to sign Andersen and bring the goaltender back, but that may just be to give himself more time to facilitate a trade. With Gibson’s age and cap hit — a scant $2.3 million per season until 2018-19 — it’s hard to see Andersen being the one goaltender who sticks around. Like Murray said, he’d likely lose one of Gibson or Andersen for nothing come expansion, so even with Andersen locked up, don’t expect both goaltenders to still be battling it out for time in the crease come season’s end.