NHL Rumors: Who is going to replace Andrei Vasilevskiy?
Today’s NHL Rumors follows up on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s options without Andrei Vasilevskiy.
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As reported on Thursday, the Lightning will be without their star goalie, Vasilevskiy, who opted to have back surgery and will miss two months of the regular season. Considering this was a shocking development, the Lightning don’t have a backup plan and will have to drastically adjust their style of play to adapt to a goalie who isn’t 6’4″ and deploys one of the most acrobatic butterfly styles in the game today.
According to CapFriendly, there are currently 69 active netminders on NHL payrolls. Even though some clubs have goalies in the minor league waiting for their opportunities, we are examining options from teams now employing three goalies on their payrolls at the NHL level.
So, with that in mind, here are some guardians who may become available and serve as a stop-gap until Vasilevskiy returns.
NHL Rumors: Replacing Andrei Vasilevskiy
Alex Stalock (Anaheim Ducks) UFA 2024 $800,000
Although Alex Stalock just joined the Anaheim Ducks on a one-year agreement in August, he’s the oldest and cheapest option for the team to part ways with. Considering that John Gibson will be the starter until 2027, that allows 23-year-old Lukas Dostal to continue his development. Ultimately, the Ducks brought in Stalock, whose career numbers are 70-65-20, to get in some skates when Gibson needs a night off or Dostal stumbles, making an expandable target for the Lightning to pursue.
Antti Raanta (Carolina Hurricanes) UFA 2024 $1.5 million
Believe it or not, the Carolina Hurricanes could break up their three-header goalie monster by moving Antti Raanta, a free agent next summer. Even though they probably wouldn’t conduct business with a conference rival, a potential deal could provide immediate results and be a positive thing for the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2023-24. Ultimately, Carolina could make this move with Frederik Andersen signed through 2025 and Pyotr Kochetkov proving to be a capable backup and on the books until 2027.
Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) UFA 2024 $3.9 million
Interestingly, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Cal Petersen from the L.A. Kings in a 3-way trade this past summer with two years left on his deal (AAV of $5 million). Ultimately, this move made zero sense since the team has employed Carter Hart as the starter for the past five seasons. However, his time may be ending since he’s produced an 84-84-6 record, not the kind of numbers the club had hoped for when giving him the crease in 2019. Eventually, Hart will try to land a starting role with another team next summer, but getting some games and wins with the Lightning could be a move to restart his career.
Editor’s note: Corrected the article to reflect how the Flyers acquired Cal Petersen
Felix Sandström (Philadelphia Flyers) UFA 2024 $775,000
Despite what the Flyers decide to do with Hart, the team also plays in front of Felix Sandström, a free agent in 2024. Although the 26-year-old has a cap hit under $1 million, his numbers thus far in his 25-game career are not promising at 3-16-4. The Flyers haven’t won many games lately, but if the goalies are not stopping the pucks, that could be a significant reason behind their troubles. Obviously, the first selection from the Flyers would be Hart, but Sandström has decent numbers in the AHL, which means if given the chance, he could turn things around in Tampa Bay.
Chris Driedger (Seattle Kraken) UFA 2024 $3.5 million
Last year, the Seattle Kraken almost won the Pacific Division title, employing Martin Jones, Phillipp Grubauer, and Joey Accord. Unfortunately, Chris Driedger missed the entire season but is ready and set to play in 2023-24. Despite the crowded crease, Jones departed in free agency, and Grubauer carried the Kraken to the second round of the playoffs, earning the team’s trust to be their number one. Furthermore, Daccord is under contract until 2025, with Grubauer sticking around until 2027. Realistically, the team could move Driedger, but his cap hit may be why he remains in Seattle.
Martin Jones (Toronto Maple Leafs) UFA 2024 $875,000
The Toronto Maple Leafs were busy this summer, re-signing Ilya Samsonov to a one-year deal after their arbitration meeting and bringing in 27-game winner Martin Jones. Now, the team employs two netminders who won over 25 games last year as they hope to gain ground in the ultra-competitive Eastern Conference. However, with Joseph Woll just waiting for his opportunity, sporting a career 6-1 record, Jones could become expendable. Considering the Maple Leafs and Lightning are in the same division, any chance of a transaction between the two is unlikely, but anything is possible with multiple goalies on the roster.
Surprisingly, there are few unsigned free-agent goalies, but Jaroslav Halak’s name is one of the most viable candidates to step into a situation like this and make it work. Although he wants to keep playing, at 38, he still hasn’t found a team, and the Lightning may give him a try or decide to go in the opposite direction.
Meanwhile, another name floating around is Daniel Vladar, the backup for the Calgary Flames. Considering the team has Dustin Wolf waiting for his opportunity, that can only happen if they move Jacob Markstrom or Vladar. Furthermore, he’s a free agent in 2025 and would get the Lightning a significant return if they flip him by the deadline, especially if he wins games during his tenure.
However, the apparent solution to the Lighting’s current problem is to let Jonas Johansson play and deal with any holes in his game until Vasilevskiy returns in two months. Although he’s only got 35 games of experience with three teams, earning an 11-13-4 record, he’s got an impressive supporting cast of players in Tampa Bay and will have a chance to secure a win every night.
Unfortunately, no one can replace Vasilevskiy, and anyone who steps into the role must understand that the situation is only short-term. So, this person must be ready to uproot their life once and possibly twice in a short period.