San Jose Sharks: Top Trade Option For Backup Goalie


The San Jose Sharks could shore up their only perceived roster weakness by trading for a backup goalie; the following might be their most likely option…

The San Jose Sharks appear to be finished with free agency, with General Fanager showing they have less than $1 million in salary cap space. That could mean their roster is set for the 2016-17 NHL season.

Cap space can be misleading with at least one roster move certain, but there is a good chance in this case it is accurate save for that backup goalie position. For instance, adding Timo Meier to the forward payroll to fill out that position and subtracting Mirco Mueller as an extra defenseman would keep the cap hit constant.

No backup goalie signed for $1 million is going to provide much of an upgrade for the Sharks than what they have internally for at most $625,000. The backup may play as few as eight games (one half of the back-to-back sets outside of the home matinee and evening set Martin Jones could play both ends of) before Feb.11, and a trade could bolster that position then.

Related Story: San Jose Sharks To Rely On Inexperienced Backup

Yet there are moves they could make depending on how players perform in training camp—or perhaps sooner depending on what is already decided internally. For instance, San Jose has a glut of forwards if Meier makes the team and may not want to chance it with either green backup.

Troy Grosenick has a one-way contract at $600,000 and two games of NHL experience including a record-setting 45-save shutout in his first game. However, everything has been downhill since and he was relegated to being the AHL backup last season. Aaron Dell took over the Barracuda starting role and played well, but he is new to even that significant a role.

Even should Meier not make the Sharks, Nikolay Goldobin, Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Carpenter are prospects that have already gotten their feet wet in the NHL waiting to bust into the rotation. Marcus Sorenson is another prospect that could crack the lineup.

Should none of them make it, forward projections suggest the final two dressed players will be Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels. Goodrow and Micheal Haley would likely be the scratched forwards replacing them situationally.

Tommy Wingels may not crack the everyday lineup for the 2016-17 San Jose Sharks. Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Tommy Wingels may not crack the everyday lineup for the 2016-17 San Jose Sharks. Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE /

A combination of Goodrow and Nieto would give San Jose speed while Wingels and Haley would provide toughness. The other three aforementioned forwards (potentially four with Meier) provide depth in the event of injury.

The Sharks have played at least 18 forwards every season in the tenure of general manager Doug Wilson, but that includes players added and subtracted via trades. The reality is those not projected to be among the 14 active often play fewer than 20 games in a given NHL season.

That means there is a very good chance San Jose is looking at virtually no benefitting from the offensive talent and speed of Goldobin. Sorenson will not get the chance to be the 2016-17 NHL season’s version of Joonas Donskoi. Goodrow would also be wasting potential development scratched in the press box.

Wilson could take care of that logjam by trading a player that only projects to play most nights and may not even be better than some of the young talent behind him. The most logical choice on a team near the cap is Wingels, the most overpaid depth forward.

Related Story: San Jose Sharks Could Trade Tommy Wingels For Cap Space

This is really only worth doing if it is going to make the Sharks better right away. Only a backup goalie is something worth trading Wingels for and falls within the realm or possibility. The best destination for him would be a team looking to win now that has an abundance at goalie.

Enter the Florida Panthers. They stocked up at skater and added San Jose’s deadline backup from last season, James Reimer. He is the heir apparent to aging Roberto Luongo—still the likely primary starter during the 2016-17 NHL season—and that tandem will not allow room for Reto Berra, who is also under a one-way contract for another year.

James Reimer
With James Reimer now playing for the Florida Panthers, the San Jose Sharks could maybe pry Reto Berra from them. Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

In 64 career games, Berra is just 19-30-4 with a marginal 2.82 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. However, that includes his first year with the shaky Calgary Flames. He was good in limited roles the last two seasons and should be just peaking at 29.

Meanwhile, Wingels provides a physical presence that still comes with enough skill to be an offensive threat. He scored at least 15 goals in the two seasons prior to last and even if his style makes his 345 games including the Stanley Cup playoffs a little higher mileage, he should still have a lot of hockey left at 28.

With Wingels and Berra as the principles in any trade, the teams could each help themselves while not helping anyone in their way to a Stanley Cup final. Both would also ensure getting something for players that could be waived for not making the roster anyway.

If the Sharks are concerned about losing toughness and/or the Panthers concerned about adding salary, Shawn Thornton could be thrown in. It certainly would not hurt to have him in the dressing room or in the press box scratched most nights and the only player he would take time from would be Haley, who is on the wrong side of 30 to believe he will develop into more than a reserve.

Such a trade may require some draft positioning going one way or the other, but those should not be more than a bump in the road to a deal that could help both sides. For San Jose, this would serve the additional benefit of allowing two inexperienced goalies currently set to battle for the backup role time to develop further in the AHL.