During media availability this week, Ron Francis offered some veiled comments about the possibility of Cam Ward returning. In typical Ron Francis form, he did not really tip his hat either way, but the fact that Francis is still talking about Ward in June seems to suggest that he is at least a possibility. One way or another the Hurricanes need to add another goalie this summer, and I am on record as preferring an upgrade.
It seems reasonable that a decent number of goalies could be available via trade and also that the time to make at least a 2-3 commitment in net (until Nedeljkovic might be ready) is now. But that largely depends on the trade cost. I have Frederik Andersen at the top of my wish list but acknowledge that the price could be fairly high.
Is it possible that an alternative course of action would be to wait until next summer? If enough teams push forward through 2016-17 with 2 decent goalies in tow, I think that could become the case.
Could there be a scenario whereby it is much less expensive to broker a deal with an expansion team to claim a goalie and then trade him to the Canes? Each team will only be able to lose 1 player, but I am not aware of any kind of limitation for how many players an expansion team could accumulate for a single position. In theory, if there are 3-4 decent goalies available, the expansion team could pick more than the 2 they need and become a goalie broker in the process using them to collect draft picks, prospects or players from other positions. At a basic quality level, the second goalie on many teams could be more valuable than a fourth or fifth defenseman or seventh or eighth forward, so even if the expansion team does not need another goalie just maybe they draft and trade one to collect as much value as possible.
The path forward would be:
1) Sign a goalie to a 1-year ‘prove it’ type deal this summer (Cam Ward?) instead of trading assets to obtain a longer-term solution.
2) Broker a deal with an expansion team next summer whereby that team picks an extra goalie in the expansion draft and then flips the goalie to the Canes for other players, prospects or picks.
The potential impact of an expansion draft continues to offer interesting possible wrinkles for the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL in general.