Joonas Korpisalo’s contract situation is still up in the air and the LA Kings have no clear No. 1 goalie, pushing the Kings to find a solution to their problem in net this summer.
A tandem of Cal Petersen and Pheonix Copley next season would be a massive risk the Kings can’t take. And with a light free-agent class of goalies, looking into the NHL trade market might be the best option for Blake.
Trade rumors surrounding goalies have already begun and the Kings should be sniffing around a few of these options.
To start, I don’t see this trade happening. There are too many factors working against this potential deal for it to happen. But it’s fun to dream.
Hellebuyck dropped a few hints that he might want to move after the Jets were eliminated in the postseason.
“I don’t know what the future of this team looks like,” said Hellebuyck. “I don’t know what their plans are. I don’t know if I’m in it.”
Hellebuyck also stated that his main focus is winning a Cup. If the Jets look to retool this summer and reload their roster, it’s likely Hellebuyck wants out.
In come the Kings. Both The Athletic and Sportsnet have published articles in the last few days discussing teams that should target Hellebuyck and both featured the Kings.
Granted, both articles ignore how difficult a potential Hellebuyck trade would be and are based on, “Hey the Kings need a goalie, they should go get Hellebuyck.” On that basis alone, a trade does make sense.
If the Kings can acquire Hellebuyck, they go from goaltending being their biggest weakness, to one of their biggest strengths. Coming off a Vezina nomination, Hellebuyck is one of the best goalies in the league and in his prime. He’s a top-five, if not top-three, goalie in the league.
And if the Jets want to retool, they’ll want some young talent in a potential trade, something the Kings have plenty of. Perfect for the Kings, right?
In isolation, yes, this seems like a perfect situation for the Kings. The issue becomes cap space.
The Kings have roughly $7.5 million to work with this summer before re-signing Vladislav Gavrikov, or his replacement, and Gabe Vilardi. After those contracts, the Kings will have very little money to play with, certainly not enough for Hellebuyck’s $6.166 million cap hit.
There’s also Petersen’s contract to worry about. The Kings are already spending $6.5 million on goalies next season, adding another $6 million and change would be tough. That’s where I see a potential deal falling apart.
Trading Petersen’s contract is going to be impossible without attaching a high-value asset with him and Hellebuyck is going to cost a few high-value assets to acquire. Without a first-round pick in this year’s draft, and likely uninterested in losing next year’s first, the Kings would have to trade from their prospect pool.
Yes, they could add Alex Iafallo, Sean Walker or even Viktor Arvidsson to a potential Hellebuyck deal to make the money work but if the Jets are looking to reload they won’t be interested in those players.
So, to make the money work you’re looking at attaching a big asset to Petersen to move his contract. Just for fun, let’s say the Kings find a way to move Petersen to a rebuilding team and shed his contract.
Great, now you have the money to acquire Hellebuyck, but who do you send to Winnipeg to get him?
Even with just one year remaining on his contract and him wanting out, he’s going to command a massive price. They aren’t going to want second-tier prospects like Samuel Fagemo or a reclamation project in Alex Turcotte. They’ll want a premier piece.
We’re talking in the Brandt Clarke, Quinton Byfield range. And I know there are some people reading that saying, “great trade Byfield for Hellebuyck,” the Kings won’t, and shouldn’t, trade Byfield.
There will be plenty of suitors for Hellebuyck who will offer the premier pieces Winnipeg wants and the Kings don’t have those pieces to move. At least not ones they’d be willing to part with.
The only way I can squint and see a trade happening is if contract talks with Vilardi go very south and the Kings move him in a deal for Hellebuyck. But that seems extremely unlikely. I’d put that at under a 5% chance of happening.
Hellebuyck would be transformative for the Kings, but I don’t see it happening.
If Blake looks to the trade market for a goalie, targeting one of the Boston Bruins’ two goalies seems like a more realistic option.
After a shaky postseason that was marred by injury, there are reports linking Linus Ullmark to a potential trade away from Boston. Hard to imagine trading the likely Vezina winner, but they need some cap relief and have replacements ready for him.
In a recent article, BostonHockeyNow talked about a possible Ullmark trade with some aid from an NHL executive.
“Teams called on Ullmark last summer and I can tell you that they at least listened to trade offers on Ullmark because the team I was working for then was one of the teams calling on him,” the source told Boston Hockey Now on May 2. “We figured why not try after he had a shaky playoff series and they had Swayman on the rise with his contract up this offseason. Ullmark is at a doable cap hit for most teams. I could see him moved this offseason.”
The same executive went on to point out that health will be a concern with Ullmark, but pending corrective surgery he should have plenty of value for Boston.
“That depends if that injury can be corrected with surgery, I would think,” the aforementioned former NHL executive source said. “If his health isn’t an issue, I don’t think teams are going to let the playoff performance completely rule him out as a goalie option. Also, he is the likely reigning Vezina winner, so he will have value. If I’m the Bruins, I definitely explore it, and don’t forget they got the kid in Providence coming too.”
Cap is an issue once again here, less the Kings’ cap and more Boston’s this time. Assuming Boston isn’t in rebuild mode, a hockey trade that involves sending someone like Iafallo and a good prospect or two makes sense. Iafallo plus Fagemo and another piece should be interesting for a team that wants to reload for another run.
But, the Bruins have just under $5 million in projected cap space and only seven forwards under contract. So, essentially swapping cap hits to bring in some forward help might not appeal to Boston.
Boston would want to get younger and cheaper forwards in. Maybe Arthur Kaliyev becomes the piece? The Kings don’t have a ton of room for him on their roster and he’s a high-value asset.
Losing a prospect like Kaliyev would hurt, but you have to trade quality to get quality. Swapping Kaliyev plus another asset or two for Ullmark unquestionably makes the Kings better.
Because of the cap issues, it’s unlikely that Boston moves Jeremy Swayman, but Blake should at least ask about the young goalie.
A pending restricted free agent, Swayman is due for a raise that Boston can’t afford right now. Of course, the Kings can’t really afford it either. But if the Kings can shed some cap, something they already have to do, and make room for Swayman, that’s a game-changer for Los Angeles.
The Kings would be looking at a similar package for Swayman given the Bruin’s cap issues, someone like Kaliyev who’s NHL-ready and on a cheap contract.
I’ve said before I don’t see Turcotte being traded, and still believe that, but this is one of the few situations where I can see it happening.
Kaliyev as the main piece and Turcotte plus something else as a sweetener seems reasonable.
If the Kings want to improve in net via the trade market, it’s going to cost them a prospect they don’t really want to move. But for stability in net, it might be worth the price.