The San Jose Sharks really have only one potential trading partner for a backup goalie that was not already covered…
The San Jose Sharks may still be in the market for a backup goalie. We all saw what happened when a bad backup goalie took the ice during the 2015-16 NHL season, and neither Aaron Dell nor Troy Grosenick have enough experience or success at the AHL level to count on them being any better than Alex Stalock was.
With a salary cap that does not allow room for a backup via free agency once modified from General Fanager to complete the roster, a trade might be a better route. The trouble is, few teams have three goalies under contract and can afford such a trade.
Two others were covered already. The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers both carry three one-way contracts, making them motivated sellers. Both are also in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will be hurt least by trading with a Western Conference team.
The only two other teams that carry three NHL goalies are not going to be as willing a trade partner. They are both in the Western Conference (albeit the Central Division) and both have one of their three goalies on a two-way contract, allowing them to keep all three.
One of those teams is the Minnesota Wild. Their third goalie on the two-way contract is Stalock, so the Sharks would have no interest in him and it is unlikely any other goalie would be available.
The other team is the Winnipeg Jets. The contract they would probably most like to move (Ondrej Pavelec) will not work for San Jose, but they have needs that might supercede the chance to hang on to the other two goalies.
Michael Hutchinson has been solid so far in his NHL career: 32-26-7 with a 2.54 goals-against average (GAA) and .912 save percentage (sv%). He is 26 years old and thus still capable of improvement, especially if given a chance at playing more regularly. He could be a starter soon in the league, but is at least a solid backup and has a modest $1.15 million cap hit in each of the next two seasons.
The only thing is, Connor Hellebuyck is younger (23), cheaper($600,000) and has looked better so far: 13-11-1, 2.34 GAA, .918 sv%. He may have a two-way contract, but he has earned a backup role. Most likely, he is more valued by Winnipeg and Hutchinson would be parted with.
The Jets would probably only do this for blue-line help they desperately need. If Mirco Mueller is passed by anyone on the depth chart, the Sharks could send him for Hellebuyck or Hutchinson.
Even if Mueller’s play ascends, he could still be shipped off—as could Dylan DeMelo or even Brenden Dillon if some draft picks or prospects were included in return. All aforementioned moves would leave enough salary cap room for either goalie and make San Jose a better team, as well…so long as Winnipeg wants to bolster its blue-line deficiency more than hold extra goalie talent.