Goalie trade chatter: Leafs, Jackets on the prowl

Anders Lindback: taking his talents to Tampa
Some of the first bits of trade information heading into draft week have arrived in the aftermath of Friday’s deal that saw Tampa Bay acquire promising (and huge) goaltender Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators. While the package put together is somewhat newsworthy, it’s the other ‘tenders targeted and teams left in the hunt that appear just as interesting.

So who else was Steve Yzerman looking at when assessing candidates to be the Lightning’s future backstop?

Sources tell Sabres Prospects that, aside from being rebuffed when inquiring about LA’s Jonathan Bernier, Tampa Bay was also hot on the trail of former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas before pulling the trigger with the Preds. Thomas’ uncertainty over next season raised some obvious questions, but it looks like at least one team is perceiving his “personal leave” as posturing for different colors.

Tampa Bay making their investment leaves two clubs, Toronto and Columbus, desperate for a number one goalie who can play now. With the market bare for both starters and backups, I’m being told that the only teams offering high caliber stoppers are Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) and St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott). Coincidentally, the Leafs and Jackets hold two of the first five picks on Friday.

In fact, the goalie market is so dry that exiled vet Cristobal Huet is talking to a handful of NHL clubs about a reserve role. Huet, who turns 37 this fall, has been buried professionally in Switzerland the past two seasons while his contract with the Blackhawks expired. Not Sweden. Not Finland. Not the KHL. Switzerland – a place usually seen as a one-way destination for former NHLers..

In my opinion, the thin market makes Bernier a hot commodity as a backup, and potentially even as a starter in a place like Columbus, where a big name like Luongo (or even Thomas) may not be agreeable to going since, well, his stats are almost guaranteed to take a hit.

For those curious, New Jersey has apparently informed clubs that they are looking to extend Johan Hedberg one more year, effectively removing him from the radar of goalie-needy clubs. Again, thin market.

The Sabres aren’t directly involved in any of this madness but it’s something to keep an eye on as the weekend plays out. It’s always fun to see the Leafs scramble.
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