by Dan Adkisson
The Los Angeles Kings have a very clear problem. They will be opening next season with a starting goalie tandem of Pheonix Copley and Cam Talbot, neither of whom immediately screams Stanley Cup caliber starter. This holds them back significantly, as they could be a high-quality goaltender away from assuming a status as one of the favourites on gambling sites worldwide.
While free agency options have died down, a strong trade market remains. The odds of the Kings acquiring an elite goaltender before the season starts might seem low, but there could be some excellent options on the market. Let’s look at five goalies who could become available for the Kings to add.
Saros has been one of the NHL’s best goalies for the past three seasons, and he is still just 28. While it would seem foolish for the Predators to trade him, there is one reason some believe this could be the case. The Predators have Yaroslav Askarov, one of the league’s top goalie prospects, and could opt for the young player instead of the more expensive veteran. If this were the case, the Kings would have to give up a massive haul, but they would become one of the top favourites on Canadian betting sites.
Rumours have swirled over Hellebuyck for a while now. While most people would bet against the Kings and the Jets agreeing to two major trades in one offseason, you never know in the NHL. Hellebuyck is one of the league’s best goalies, and he would likely cost the Kings a prospect like Quinton Byfield and more. But the Vezina Trophy winner is an elite talent with several good years left. He would immediately make the Kings a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and his .920 save percentage would be night and day to what the Kings are currently receiving. Making the deal work financially would be an extreme challenge given the Kings current lack of cap space.
Gibson has been at the center of trade rumours for years now. Could this finally be the year a deal gets done? While the Ducks would be reticent to make a major trade with their rival, the Kings have the trade ammunition to force their hand. Gibson has not lived up to his reputation for the past four seasons. But he seems disinterested on a Ducks team that has been terrible. Stepping into a competitive situation would likely help make Gibson a lot more invested and productive. With a better Kings defence, he could be a star once again.
Of all the names on this list, acquiring Varlamov would cost the Kings the least. He is 35 years old and is a backup to Ilya Sorokin, one of the game’s best goalies. But Varlamov could be the best goalie on the Kings roster, depending on the play of Talbot and Copley. Varlamov is locked in for four more seasons until he is almost 40. But last year, he had a .913 save percentage, roughly around his career average. The Kings would love to have someone capable of producing as an above-average goalie, and Varlamov can still do that.
Trading the current Vezina winner sounds like insanity, but the Bruins have Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings, and he is younger. The Bruins are also undergoing massive changes and might look to drop more veterans. Ullmark might be unloaded, particularly after a rough playoff. If so, the Kings would be thrilled to add someone with a .938 save percentage; that seems hard to believe. Ullmark is still just 30 and has multiple years left on his contract. The Kings would be willing to part with a lot to add a player of his calibre, and their odds of winning their division would skyrocket.