Goaltenders have been the hardest players to move before the NHL Trade Deadline during the past few years because the supply has far exceeded the demand.
Not anymore. At least not this year.
Goalies dominated trade discussion in the past few days, and they were all over the news Tuesday afternoon when four, most notably Roberto Luongo, were traded in a span of a few hours. Six goalies have been moved since Friday, including three who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after the season.
The trade deadline isn't until 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and there could be more goalies on the move; Martin Brodeur and Jaroslav Halak, both UFA-bound, have been featured in rumors and reports across the League.
"How many times have we heard about goalies being rentals?" NHL Network analyst Craig Button told NHL.com. "The last guy I can think of in this boat was Dwayne Roloson in 2006, when he was traded from Minnesota to Edmonton. I think it's largely unprecedented. This is very uncommon."
How uncommon? Just consider how few goalies were dealt around the deadline in the past several years.
Ben Bishop and Steve Mason were the only goalies traded before the deadline last year. Bishop was the only noteworthy goalie traded before the deadline in 2012, but he was playing for the St. Louis Blues' American Hockey League affiliate at the time.
There were two trades involving four goalies in the days leading up to the trade deadline in 2011, but none of the trades involving Craig Anderson, Brian Elliott, Dan Ellis and Curtis McElhinney was considered a blockbuster.
"I'm surprised at the moves, for sure, and how quick," said former Detroit Red Wings goalie and current Fox Sports Detroit analyst Chris Osgood. "Usually, if goalies are getting moved, it's at the draft. But teams want goalies, and sometimes they get desperate because it's hard to find one. I use the example of when [Nikolai] Khabibulin left Tampa Bay, they searched for another goalie and this year they finally got one in Bishop. It's not easy to find elite goalies."
There have been two blockbusters in the past five days involving four goalies, including the two who played in the gold-medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics -- Luongo and Ryan Miller.
The dealing started Friday, when the Blues acquired Miller along with Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional pick in 2016.
The Sabres may well be winning to flip Halak to a team that wants a goalie before the deadline Wednesday. However, that trade between the Sabres and Blues was merely a prelude to what transpired Tuesday.
The day started with rumors involving Brodeur and him potentially waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Minnesota Wild. Halak was also mentioned as a candidate for the Wild, and Anton Khudobin's name was being discussed in rumors as well.
None of them wound up in Minnesota, because general manager Chuck Fletcher paid only a fourth-round draft pick to acquire Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers. Bryzgalov, who did not start the season in the NHL, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the Wild likely only need him to play a handful of games as Darcy Kuemper's backup.
Khudobin eventually signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract extension to stay with the Carolina Hurricanes. Brodeur played against the Detroit Red Wings, his status still very much in limbo. Halak was still with the Sabres for the time being.
"[Bryzgalov has] played in three Olympics, was second-team All-Star one year, he's won over 200 games in the NHL," Fletcher told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "So, to add a goaltender of that caliber for what we felt was a very manageable price made a lot of sense to us."
The Oilers could part with Bryzgalov because they paid a price of two draft picks (a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick) to acquire Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks, giving them a goalie tandem of Ben Scrivens and Fasth for the foreseeable future. Fasth is signed through next season, and Scrivens on Monday signed a two-year extension that will take him through the 2015-16 season.
Anaheim GM Bob Murray felt he could part with Fasth because he still has Frederik Andersen playing behind Jonas Hiller, who is in the final year of his current contract. Highly touted prospect John Gibson has a 2.27 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Norfolk Admirals, Anaheim's AHL affiliate.
As important as having goalie depth is in the NHL, Murray didn't like the fact that he had three NHL goalies for two spots.
"You've watched Freddie Andersen play, so I don't need to say anything else," he Murray said. "And you've got Jonas Hiller there. That had to be cleaned up for the sake of the hockey team. Too many people around, too much uncertainty, as a former player, is not a good thing. I felt it had to be done."
GM: Panthers made statement with tradeBy Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent
That was the message from general manager Dale Tallon, who said he consummated the four-player trade with the Vancouver Canucks after getting the go-ahead from owner Vinnie Viola, partner Doug Cifu, and new president/CEO Rory Babich, who took over on Monday.
"It is huge," Tallon said in a conference call Tuesday night. "He's a big name down here and it sets the tone for our franchise. Vinnie and Doug and Rory and I want to win the Stanley Cup, and talk is cheap, so we're acting and we're following up on what we said we would do. We're just looking to get better every day to achieve our goal of winning the Stanley Cup."READ MORE ›
The big move, though, came a little later in the day -- and it was a stunner.
The Vancouver Canucks shipped Luongo and Steven Anthony to the Florida Panthers, reuniting the goalie with his former team, in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias. The Canucks agreed to pay 15 percent of Luongo's salary for the remainder of his contract, which runs through the 2021-22 season and carries a salary-cap charge of $5.33 million.
"It is huge," Florida GM Dale Tallon said of acquiring Luongo. "He's a big name down here, and it sets the tone for our franchise. [We] want to win the Stanley Cup, and talk is cheap, so we're acting and we're following up on what we said we would do."
The trade brings an end to one of the longest-running goaltending sagas in history. Luongo had been involved in trade rumors since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he was replaced in the lineup by Cory Schneider. The Canucks tried to trade him before the deadline last season, but couldn't find a willing partner. Luongo then delivered his famous press conference, when he was brutally honest in blaming his contract for why he couldn't be traded.
"My contract [stinks]," Luongo said on April 3, 2013. He then added, "I'd scrap it if I could."
He wanted to be traded that badly, and Florida was his preferred destination because he has a home there and his wife is from there. It didn't happen at the deadline last year, and less than three months later Luongo was the Canucks' No. 1 goalie again because general manager Mike Gillis found it easier to trade Schneider at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Luongo remained with the Canucks and that day got a visit in his Florida home from owner Francesco Aquilini while Schneider was moved to the New Jersey Devils for the No. 9 pick in the draft, which Vancouver used to select Bo Horvat.
It was assumed then that the Luongo saga was over, that he was again going to be firmly entrenched as the Canucks' No. 1 goalie with Schneider out of town.
Well, not really.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, when Canucks coach John Tortorella chose to play Eddie Lack instead of Luongo in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place. The Canucks lost and Luongo was traded approximately 48 hours later.
So instead of having Luongo and Schneider, which used to be one of the top goaltending tandems in the NHL, the Canucks instead have Lack and Markstrom, a tandem with a combined 68 games of NHL experience, including zero in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Lack and Markstrom, their potential is good but you still don't know," Osgood said. "You've traded away Schneider, who has already proven he's one of the best young goalies in the League, and Luongo, whose numbers are the same every year. You can say what you want, but he has great numbers. These are two guys that are proven for two guys who are not. That's taking a big chance."