Goaltending is certainly the most unpredictable area in the sport of hockey, and no matter how much we try to analyze it or discover who will be actually good at it, sometimes you just have to throw your hands up in the air and say shit is weird. There are so many factors that go into solid performances in between the pipes, but right now for the Minnesota Wild it simply is just the dudes that are in net.
The Wild have been one of the best defensive teams in the entire league throughout this season. It is not like Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen are getting bombarded every single night and coming out worse for wear. All they need is someone that can save like 25 shots, and we’re good. Right now, that’s not happening. Kahkonen is sporting a .910 save percentage and Talbot has earned a .906 on the season, but since the year changed over, the latter has a .890, and in the last six weeks, the former has a .889. It’s not great and not what you want for a team trying to take its first real run in the playoffs in a long time.
Will GM Bill Guerin make a change at the trade deadline next Monday? It is still to be determined, but there are certainly options out there for pending free agent goaltenders to get handed a solid shot to try and solidify the position for at least a few more months.
Minnesota has done it in the past when acquiring Devan Dubnyk, and we’re back at that point now.
Now, does Guerin think that any of these available netminders are better than his current tandem? Probably not. But there is a rare opportunity for him to make this sort of move. Kahkonen is still eligible to be sent down to the AHL without going through waivers for one more year, meaning that it can be a simple switch — albeit fairly drastic since Kahkonen is miles ahead better than an AHL goaltender — of contracts and players, requiring no messy player divorce.
Even if it might ruffle some feathers, here are some names you want to think about and ponder:
The 29-year-old has been one of the few feel-good stories in the NHL while making the Ottawa Senators roster this season. Now with his fourth organization despite appearing in just 85 games, Forsberg has been extremely solid. The pending unrestricted free agent has a .916 save percentage and an astounding 2.83 goals against average on a very-not-good Sens team.
It gets even better. Forsberg has one of the best save percentages in the entire league while his team is on the penalty kill. Among goalies that have played at least 50 minutes shorthanded, Forsberg has the fourth-highest save percentage with a .913 — that would certainly help the Wild’s middling .861 save percentage in the same situation.
Being cheap, expendable, and just someone to bandage the situation, and is honestly used to going on waivers if he ends up being terrible in Minnesota, Forsberg seems like an easy option.
Another goalie that has used the Senators as a jumping off point, the 40-year-old Craig Anderson is currently making some elite teams look foolish against the Buffalo Sabres. Another pending free agent, he will get brought in with no strings attached, but it all depends on what his current front office wants to do.
According to Pierre Lebrun, even though there is no contractual obligation to do so, the team will make sure Anderson is taken care of and if he gets moved, it will be somewhere he wants to be. His experience would certainly be relied upon here, as he has done all of this before, but it will be so nice to see him get a real shot in the playoffs, if the time comes and he is desperately needed to be more than a stabilizer.
Would be a very interesting move.
Joonas Korpisalo/Mackenzie Blackwood
I’m lumping these two together because they are essentially the same guy right now. While they were once considered bonafide NHL starters, they have slipped this season and are really stinking it up on non-playoff teams.
Korpisalo, 27, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Blackwood, 25, has one more year remaining on his contract before hitting restricted free agency. A little bit different of a situation with contractual obligations, but they have both shown enough to be considered as a better goaltender than they currently are.
Would they be theoretically better behind an improved blue line? Maybe. Can they still screw it up and show that whatever they cost (higher than the rentals listed above) was not worth making the attempted improvement on Talbot and Kahkonen? Oh yeah.
It would be a considerable risk, but could also pay off as a younger and better option to wait until a certain Swedish goaltending prospect is ready to take the reins.
This one is a little bit less likely since Anton Khudobin is going to be out as the veteran backup undergoes hip surgery, so considering the Dallas Stars are currently in a playoff race (and with the Wild), I doubt they will be getting rid of some security and especially to a divisional rival.
It would be cool though.
Too expensive and probably doesn’t want to come here anyway.