There’s an old adage that says that winning teams are built from the net out, but professional hockey teams continue to look over that small tidbit.
Look at the most surprising teams from the 2014-15 season: The Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. What do these four teams have in common? They all upgraded goaltending in some way, shape or form over the last 12 months.
Jonas Hiller hasn’t been a world beater since joining the Flames, but the team hasn’t lost many games because of him either. That’s different from it was a year ago when Calgary rolled out four different starting goalies. Jaroslav Halak has had a similar impact with the Isles, while a healthy Pekka Rinne has made a huge difference for the Predators.
All of this is to say that goaltending is frequently overlooked by bad teams.
You’ll hear GMs mutter to the press that “good goalies aren’t simply available on the market,” but ask any Minnesota Wild fan and they’ll tell you differently. The market for unrestricted free agent goalies is thin this season, but organizations looking for help in goal might have a handful of trade options available.
Trading for an unproven starter or prospect might seem like a risky move, but it’s not as risky as burning another season of a rebuild on the back of crummy goaltending.
Keep in mind: these trade targets are simply names that should interest teams that need help in goal. That doesn’t mean it would be wise for the netminder’s current organization to trade them.