July 12th, 2024

Opening trades of the NHL off-season contain several goalies but few surprises

By Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press on June 27, 2024.

FILE - Artwork of Johnny Cash adorns the mask of Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom as he watches the action during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 23, 2024. The New Jersey Devils have agreed to acquire Markstrom in a trade with the Flames, a person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear what they were giving up. The Devils have been looking for a goalie and targeting Markstrom for quite some time. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, file)

Goaltenders are on the move as NHL teams prepare for next season, and the trades made so far are far from stunners.

Center Pierre-Luc Dubois said he was surprised by Los Angeles sending him to Washington for goalie Darcy Kuemper, but his impending full no-movement clause kicking in July 1 was the impetus for the move. The Kings filled their hole in net after 2023 Vézina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark declined to join them at the March trade deadline.

Boston finally traded Ullmark on Monday, getting a first-round pick, depth centre Mark Kastelic and a new backup, Joonas Korpisalo, from Ottawa in a deal completed just before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Jacob Markstrom knew there was buzz around New Jersey wanting to get him from Calgary, and that move went down earlier in that series, with teams around the league getting down to important business before Florida hoisted the Cup.

Much more movement is expected in the coming days, leading up to and through the draft Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas. A look at the big names who have already changed places:

Pierre-Luc Dubois

He only turned 26 this week but has been traded three times since entering the league. The first two were his choice, but this one was not – a cross-country shift 12 months since signing a $68 million, eight-year contract with the Kings.

The trade came after Dubois was a bad fit in L.A. under two coaches: since-fired Todd McLellan and interim replacement Jim Hiller, who got the full-time gig after making the playoffs and losing in the first round. Dubois had 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points, his lowest career totals over a full 82-game season.

“It wasn’t the season I necessarily wanted, so already there I had motivation,” Dubois said Wednesday “And then anything like this happens, I think any guy in the league will admit that there is an extra motivation behind it. You want to do well even more.”

Darcy Kuemper

After losing the starting job in Washington, Kuemper became the odd man out with three years left on his contract at a salary cap hit of $5.25 million. Charlie Lindgren carried the Capitals into the playoffs, and they wanted to clear an organizational logjam in goal to make room for top prospect Clay Stevenson or back-to-back American Hockey League Calder Cup champion Hunter Shepard.

Now two years removed from backstopping Colorado to the Cup, Kuemper went 13-4-3 with a 3.31 goals-against average and .890 save percentage last season.

“I’m looking to prove that last year was just a one off,” Kuemper said. “I believe that I can come in and be a stabilizing force in the net and provide the goaltending that the team needs.”

Kuemper should replace Cam Talbot in the tandem with David Rittich in L.A.

Linus Ullmark

One of the first questions Ullmark was asked in his first conversations with reporters since going to the Senators was about waiving his no-trade clause that could block a deal to half the league. No worries because Ottawa was not on it.

Now as for staying in Canada’s capital beyond the final season of his contract, the big Swede who turns 31 later this summer is not ready to commit to anything in the way of a long-term extension.

“The whole contract situation and the talks about that, that is something (general manager Steve Staios) and my agent will deal with off the side,” Ullmark said. “I told them that once there’s something that needs to be discussed you can always reach me.”

Ullmark gives Ottawa a major upgrade in net, pairing him with countryman and good friend Anton Forsberg. Korpisalo, now playing behind Jeremy Swayman in Boston, could also benefit from better Bruins defence than he had with the Senators.

Jacob Markstrom

Even though the Devils had been in conversations to acquire Markstrom from the Flames for several months, he had trouble sleeping earlier this month when he knew a trade was close to completion. After it happened, he was pumped to play for the organization that once had Martin Brodeur, the Hall of Fame goaltender who Markstrom actually played against in his NHL debut Jan. 23, 2011.

New Jersey is counting on Markstrom to solve the problem in net that contributed the most to missing the playoffs this past season.

“This is a big challenge,” he said. “It’s a big team with a high expectation. At the goaltending position, there is pressure and I’ve been on teams where there is pressure on goaltending and a Canadian market, a few of them. I know what’s expected.”

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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