Vokoun Available, Adding to Crowded Goalie Market
Trading Vokoun, however, figures to be a challenge for Panthers GM Randy Sexton. The 33-year-old has the 2010-11 season left on his contract at a hefty $6.3 million. Sexton's trade partner will insist on the Panthers taking an over-priced player in return. In addition, the Panthers paid the steep price of a first-round pick and two second-rounders when they acquired Vokoun hours before the start of the 2007 NHL Draft. Getting anywhere close to a return on that investment will be impossible.
Florida would also be making a risky move. If they are still in the playoff race, the No. 1 job would go to 2009 free agent signee Scott Clemmensen, who in nine games has a 4.01 GAA and .880 save percentage.
Nevertheless, while he may be more famous lately for taking teammate Keith Ballard's home run swing to his head, the gifted Vokoun would be an impact addition for a contending team. Vokoun's .923 save percentage is fourth among No. 1 goaltenders this season.
Add the news of Vokoun's availability to Thursday's report from Sportsnet of the Canadiens placing Jaroslav Halak on the trade market, and there is currently a larger supply of available NHL goaltenders than there is a demand. But according to one general manager, the atmosphere will change in a month.
"No one is in any rush, no one is panicking right now," a Western Conference GM who could be in the market for a netminder told FanHouse late Thursday night. "This is a long season and I think we've all learned there's no reason to give up assets just to patch a hole in the first half of the season. But in a month from now, when the playoff races get a little clearer? Yeah, I think you'll see some moves."
The general manager cited the goaltending situation in Philadelphia, where Paul Holmgren will likely let the reliable Brian Boucher start a string of games while Ray Emery misses six weeks after abdominal surgery. "If you're Holmer," said the GM, "there's no point pulling the trigger unless you're positive the new guy is better than Boucher and Emery."
In the case of Vokoun, there is little doubt. Other goalies expected to be available over the coming weeks include Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim, Martin Biron of the Islanders and Manny Legace of Carolina. For a fair barometer of value in the netminding market, consider Montreal's surprise deal two trade deadlines ago of Cristobal Huet to Washington for a second round pick.
The NHL Holiday Roster Freeze is in effect from Dec. 19 - 27. Soon after, the goalie swap meet will begin.