After the first round of the 2016 NHL playoffs, I wrote a Hurricanes blog detailing Canes-centric impacts from the first round.
Here is a similar round up from the second round of the playoffs that end with San Jose’s game 7 win of Nashville on Thursday night.
I think the single greatest Hurricanes impact could be the Dallas Stars loss and how it happened. The Stars were a great hockey team in 2015-16 mostly despite its goaltending. That problem reared its ugly head in the playoffs and played a significant role in their second round exit from the playoffs with the most glaring evidence being the goaltending collapse in game 7 at home.
Both Lehtonen and Niemi are signed for 2 more years at a combined $10.4 million cap hit ($5.9 million for Lehtonen and $4.5 million for Niemi). Either of those contracts will be hard to move but just maybe if the Stars do some combination of paying in other assets, eating part of the salary and finding a team that needs to spend to make the cap floor, they can free themselves of 1 of those goalies. The other option is obviously to buy 1 of them out. Regardless of how they manage to pull it off, I have to imagine that the Stars look to swap in help in net to go with what is otherwise a very good hockey team.
The biggest upshot for the Canes is that it could add another team to the buyers side of the equation for adding a starter-capable goalie this summer.
St. Louis Blues
Brian Elliott had his first minor slip up getting pulled from game 6 in the second round, but he rebounded to play well and win game 7 and will be the Blues starter heading into the third round. Jake Allen is also a good goalie and is younger (25 versus 31), as the Blues push deeper into the playoffs with Elliott in net, the chance the Allen could become available this summer increases. It is not that the Blues could not afford to keep both. Their salaries are a modest $2.5 million (Elliott) and $2.35 million (Allen). But with the potential to lose 1 for nothing next summer to the expansion draft just maybe St. Louis goes with the winning guy for the playoffs and collects what it can in assets for the other guy.
Also on the goalie theme, the Penguins push into the third round still riding young goalie of the future Matt Murray is pushing Marc-Andre Fleury deeper into the background. Fleury had a very good 2015-16 season, so despite his $5.75 million salary, I think he could have modest trade value to a team that wants a proven and successful netminder and has the cap space. My intuition is that Francis would pass on this opportunity simply because he would not want to commit $5.75 million for 3 more years. Even if that is the case, it could add another available goalie to the pool and help decrease prices on the other options.