Skip to content

Breaking down the crowded trade-deadline goalie market

Getty Images

While depth centers and right-shot defensemen usually garner most of the spotlight during NHL trade season, this year's goalie market has the potential to swing the deadline.

Several contenders and teams on the bubble need help between the pipes for their playoff pushes, but there are limited options and even less cap space for potential deals to come to fruition. Below, we dive into which teams could be shopping and who they might be targeting.

Who could use a goalie?

New Jersey Devils ($9.4M in deadline cap space)

The Devils have been linked to needing a new goalie perhaps more than any other team this season, and for good reason. New Jersey's trio of Vitek Vanecek, Nico Daws, and Akira Schmid each boast a sub-.900 save percentage, leaving the club behind the eight ball in a wild-card chase one year after a 112-point campaign.

It was reported that the Devils were trying to acquire Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames, but a deal fell through while trying to figure out compensation. It's difficult to imagine a better fit for New Jersey, one of the only teams in the league with ample cap space and additional assets to swing a move of this magnitude. That said, it might be too late in the season for the Devils to go all-in, as they need to make up five points in the standings with 23 games to go. If not Markstrom, surrendering assets for a rental goalie while facing an uphill climb to the playoffs could very well backfire, so waiting until the summer to find a new No. 1 might be the best course of action for Tom Fitzgerald and the Devils.

Colorado Avalanche ($1.24M in deadline cap space)

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

The Avalanche are undeniably good enough to win the Stanley Cup again, but whether Alexandar Georgiev can take them there is the big question for Colorado leading up to the playoffs. The Avs' No. 1 netminder has racked up 31 wins but owns a .900 save percentage and ranks 36th league-wide in GSAx. He's been a difference-maker in the wrong way for one of the league's most feared teams, and many are wondering if the Avalanche may tweak their crease to improve their chances at a second championship in three years.

It's not out of the question that Georgiev finds his game in the playoffs - he boasts a career .917 clip in the postseason - but Colorado would be wise to strengthen its backup options in case he doesn't. A lack of cap space will likely prevent the Avalanche from going big-game hunting in the goalie market, but acquiring a playoff-experienced veteran to take over No. 2 duties from Ivan Prosvetov and Justus Annunen would be a smart security measure.

Carolina Hurricanes ($6.6M in deadline cap space)

The Hurricanes have used five different goalies this season yet are still in the hunt for their fourth consecutive division crown. Carolina's three most-used options - Pyotr Kochetkov, Antti Raanta, and Frederik Andersen - have all missed time this season and have a history of injuries. Is it feasible for the Canes to add another goalie, or do they trust their incumbent group of netminders is good enough to go on a deep run?

Carolina's been one of the best teams in the NHL for much of Rod Brind'Amour's tenure behind the bench, but his club's been swept in the Eastern Conference Final twice. There's a particular impetus for the Hurricanes to go all the way this spring, as they have 10 pending UFAs on the roster. Not doing everything possible to find stability in net in such a crucial year would be a mistake.

Los Angeles Kings ($2.5M in deadline cap space)

Toronto Star / Toronto Star / Getty

The Kings have needed a long-term solution in goal for a while, but they could benefit from an immediate fix, too. Cam Talbot, who looked like the bargain signing of the season after a brilliant start to the year, is 2-7-2 with an .892 save percentage since the calendar flipped to 2024. Los Angeles' next two options are David Rittich and Pheonix Copley.

Despite a rocky couple of months, the Kings are in a strong position to make the playoffs. However, on the heels of back-to-back first-round eliminations, the clock could be ticking on L.A.'s current management group. The club already fired head coach Todd McLellan, and Rob Blake has admitted the heat is now on him. His job could depend on the playoff performance of his goalies, so it'll be fascinating to see if he's willing to gamble on a new netminder or stand pat.

Who might be available?

Jacob Markstrom ($6M cap hit through 2025-26)

GP Record SV% GSAx
37 20-15-2 .914 33.65

Markstrom is the most talked-about name in the goalie market, but he controls his destiny with a full no-move clause. Calgary is also charging up the standings - in large part due to its star goalie's phenomenal play - so Markstrom may want to see that through. The Flames have other pieces they can focus on trading, but Markstrom would recoup the biggest return package, and there's no question he could take a playoff contender over the top if he's moved.

Elvis Merzlikins ($5.4M cap hit through 2026-27)

Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP Record SV% GSAx
34 11-13-7 .903 7.12

Merzlikins and the Columbus Blue Jackets agreed to find "a new scenario" for the netminder, but nothing's come to fruition since the story emerged in January. The 29-year-old's cap hit is significant, and his combined .899 save percentage over the past three seasons isn't attractive for teams hoping for reliability in the playoffs. Merzlikins also has a 10-team no-trade list, so there are plenty of factors working against a potential trade within the next week or so.

Jake Allen ($3.85M cap hit through 2024-25)

GP Record SV% GSAx
20 5-12-3 .892 0.52

Allen's been the worst of the Montreal Canadiens' three goalies this season but has playoff experience and is the type of veteran a contending team might want as a safety net. The 33-year-old boasts an impressive .924 save percentage in his 29 career playoff appearances, but his contract for this year and next could scare off contenders. The Canadiens are already retaining salary on two contracts and may be reluctant to use their final slot on Allen when they could potentially be a third-party broker on a different trade and recoup an asset in the process.

Alex Nedeljkovic ($1.5M cap hit through end of season)

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
GP Record SV% GSAx
19 9-4-4 .915 2.85

Nedeljkovic could be a dark horse in this year's goalie carousel, as the Pittsburgh Penguins have little reason to keep the 28-year-old around. Tristan Jarry is Pittsburgh's No. 1, and there are AHL options that could take Nedeljkovic's spot on the depth chart for the remainder of the season. The Penguins are a long shot to make the playoffs and restocking draft picks should be a priority for Kyle Dubas. Nedeljkovic's cap hit and stats this season surely have caught the attention of teams bound for the postseason.

Kaapo Kahkonen ($2.75M cap hit through end of season)

GP Record SV% GSAx
28 6-18-2 .901 4.26

The 31st-place San Jose Sharks should be shopping Kahkonen as aggressively as possible. He's posted respectable numbers behind one of the worst defensive teams in the league and is a pending UFA. San Jose has a salary retention slot open and needs to snag as many draft picks as possible to accelerate its rebuild. Acquiring Kahkonen carries little risk and should be relatively low-cost compared to the previous names on this list.

John Gibson ($6.4M cap hit through 2026-27)

GP Record SV% GSAx
38 12-20-2 .899 10.96

Gibson has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors despite falling off his perch as one of the league's elite netminders. The 30-year-old has a .902 save percentage over the past five seasons but hasn't had much help in front of him from the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks. Gibson can still steal the odd game - he ranks 19th league-wide in GSAx this season despite Anaheim's futility - and one wonders if a move to a contender could be invigorating for the three-time All-Star. A deadline move feels unlikely unless the Ducks have their socks blown off, as Gibson has a 10-team no-trade list and the most expensive cap hit of any goalie on our list.

(Stats source: Evolving-Hockey, CapFriendly)

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox