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Top 5 Goalie Targets at the Trade Deadline

The goalie market is heating up ahead of the trade deadline. Who are the top-five candidates to be moved?
Marc-Andre Fleury

The trade deadline is only a week away, and the market is quiet. Too quiet. 

There seem to be more teams than usual in need of goaltending depth this year, with a number of intriguing candidates becoming available as the deadline creeps closer. 

Who are the top goalie candidates who could change places? Let's take a look. 

5. Semyon Varlamov 
Age: 33
Contract: One more year, $5 million

Varlamov is a great case study for how goalie wins really don't matter. 

With just four victories in 19 appearances this season, one would think that Varlamov is trapped in the same nightmare as the rest of his Islanders brethren, with the team cratering in the standings as a lock to miss the playoffs after two straight trips to the third round. 

But Varlamov has somehow managed to post some decent numbers anyway, entering this weekend's action with a .912 save percentage, and 2.2 goals-saved-above-average that should be attractive to practically anyone in search of goalie depth.

And considering how the Islanders have given him the fourth-worst run support in the entire league, that's not too shabby at all. 

No one should be acquiring Varlamov to be their starter (I'm talking to you, Edmonton). That boat sailed years ago. But Varlamov is one of the better 1B options on the market at this stage of his career and seems capable of helping whichever team ponies up for him team tread water in the event of injuries or poor play.

The main sticking point, however, is his contract, with Varlamov being locked in for one more year at $5 million, and set to turn 34 before the playoffs kick-off. 

That's not chump change for a guy who, ideally, should be seeing the ice less than 30 times a season. Perhaps interested teams can use that extra term as a caveat to bring his price down. Or maybe it cools the market on him entirely. 

Looking strictly at this season, Varlamov would be the perfect insurance add for a team whose situation in net is comfortable, but perhaps not entirely solid. 

4. Jaroslav Halak 
Age: 36 
Contract: Pending UFA, $1.5 million

Halak has had a bit of a rough go with the Canucks in 2021-22, carrying a .883 save percentage through 12 appearances thus far. But inquiring teams could simply chalk that up to a combination of injuries and Vancouver's organizational turmoil. 

Prior to this rocky campaign, Halak has been nothing but a quality veteran, one whose save percentage has hovered in the mid-.910s dating all the way back in 2013. While he's certainly getting up there in age, set to turn 37 in mid-May, a move to a contender could be exactly what helps Halak find that little bit of gas left in the tank. 

It's unlikely the Canucks will command a king's ransom for a 36-year-old who's barely played this year and looked less-than-stellar when he has. This could have the making of a cheeky little bargain. 

For a team in need of a backup plan -- perhaps the Golden Knights, who could be facing down a stretch run without Robin Lehner -- Halak may end up as a fine late-season add. 

3. Braden Holtby 
Age: 32
Contract: Pending UFA, $2 million

Credit where it's due: Braden Holtby has turned back the clock after a pair of disastrous seasons, supplanting Anton Khudobin as the Stars' full-time backup this year thanks to a .913 save percentage in 24 appearances thus far. 

For a guy who looked pretty much cooked on a sinking ship in Vancouver last year, that's a pretty impressive turnaround. 

Holtby obviously has the playoff pedigree teams are looking for. The 32-year-old has a .926 save percentage in 97 career postseason games, 23 of which came in 2018 when Holtby helped lead the Washington Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup.  

If you're looking for a battle-tested veteran on a heater who also happens to bring a Cup ring with him, Holtby is your man. He'll be a pure rental, of course, as a pending UFA on the back nine of his career, so prying him from a Stars team teetering on the precipice of a playoff spot likely won't be too high.

Like most of the names on this list, Holtby will give most contenders an insurance option they can rest easy with. 

2. Anton Forsberg 
Age: 29
Contract: Pending UFA, $900,000

It's amazing how much can change in a year. 

12 months ago, no one wanted Anton Forsberg, with the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, and Carolina Hurricanes all competing to see who could waive him the most before the guy seemingly ended up losing his mind. 

The Ottawa Senators emerged as the benefactors of that sadistic game of musical chairs, claiming the 29-year-old in March and watching him blossom into the organization's most productive goaltender in the year to come. 

Forsberg has somehow managed to rack up a decent .916 save percentage behind an atrocious Senators blueline this season, perhaps making rival GMs fantasize about what he could do with a real team in front of him. 

At just $900,000, Forsberg's contract is easily digestible. And for a team like the Maple Leafs, whose goaltending depth is as thin as their cap is strapped, he could be the perfect piece to the puzzle. 

It's not like the Senators have shied away from making deals with their divisional rivals in the past. Just ask Dion Phaneuf and Nikita Zaitsev. And with Forsberg's pending UFA, status, the price likely won't be too tough to swallow, either. 

Would you want to ride Forsberg into the playoffs as your starter? No. But making him a safety net is as solid a contingency plan as you can find at the deadline. 

1. Marc-Andre Fleury
Age: 37
Contract: Pending UFA, $7 million

Fleury's place on this list hinges entirely upon whether or not he wants to move. 

Which, as some reports suggest, he's leaning against. 

He probably shouldn't be, though. The Blackhawks are on the precipice of a full-scale rebuild, and Fleury, a pending UFA approaching 40, is only going to get so many chances at that one final Cup before he retires. 

Fleury has a young family that he just had to uproot this past offseason, which is obviously the main factor influencing things here. But from a pure hockey perspective, the 37-year-old could be among the best midseason goalie trade candidates in recent memory. All he needs to do is waive is sign off on it. 

Complicating matters a tad here, as well, is how Fleury seems to have chosen perhaps the worst possible time to hit a slump, posting save percentages under .900 in three of his last five starts, with the other two topping out at only a .906. 

It's also worth remembering, though, that the Blackhawks are extremely bad, putting Fleury in a tough position to do things like, among others, win hockey games. 

If Fleury ultimately does choose to become a hired gun for the stretch drive, it's tough to see Chicago moving him for anything less than a first-round pick or blue-chip prospect. This is Marc-Andre Fleury we're talking about here. Not to mention, the Blackhawks are working with house money, being gifted Fleury from Vegas for basically nothing, which would make flipping him for some decent assets a major boon for newly-installed GM Kyle Davidson. 

We'll know more as the deadline approaches, but this could shape up to be quite the bidding war. 


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