The NHL trade winds picking up in the couple of weeks around the July 1 free-agency kickoff is nothing new.
With the league's salary cap only increasing by $1 million (to around $83.5 million), nearly every team is prepared for some wheeling and dealing.
Unique this summer: the number of goaltenders already caught up in the rumor mill.
There are a litany of veteran goaltenders due to become unrestricted free agents, notably Frederik Andersen (Carolina Hurricanes), Antti Raanta (Carolina Hurricanes), Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh Penguins), Semyon Varlamov (New York Islanders), Alex Nedeljkovic (Detroit Red Wings), Adin Hill (Vegas Golden Knights) and Joonas Korpisalo (Los Angeles Kings).
Adding to the potential flood of movement is the goaltenders who have contracts but could be dealt.
For example, Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets has one more season on his contract, and has reportedly told the squad he intends to test free agency in the summer of 2024.
Plus there are a couple of goaltenders who could be pried from rebuilding clubs.
Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers has one more season on his contract before becoming a restricted free agent. The Flyers have begun a teardown, which would not only mean more seasons of pain, but could be boosted by dealing away a legitimate top-level goaltender, especially one coming into his prime.
Speaking of rebuilding, the Anaheim Ducks have been cellar-dwellers the past half-dozen seasons and may not yet have bottomed out. John Gibson has four more seasons on his deal, but will celebrate his 30th birthday this summer. By the time the Ducks are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, his best seasons will be in the past.
There are even situations where a backup goalie could be part of the mix. The Calgary Flames have Jacob Markstrom as their starter and a two-time AHL goaltender of the year Dustin Wolf ready to kick down the door. In the middle is Dan Vladar, who has an affordable two-year contract about to kick in.
Adding to the potential of a goaltending carousel is the number of teams looking for help between the pipes.
Among them are the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes (although there is chatter they will re-sign both Andersen and Raanta), Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Sure they almost all have a goalie possibly in the free-agency pool, but could be handcuffed by the salary cap or be looking for an upgrade.
Buckle up for a potentially wild couple of weeks.
--By Randy Sportak, Field Level Media