The Vegas Golden Knights are in a precarious position entering the 2022-23 campaign. They have a talented but aging roster that the front office believes is good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup. But after it was announced Thursday that starting goalie Robin Lehner is set to undergo hip surgery and expected to miss the entire season, there's suddenly a gaping hole in net.
Logan Thompson, 25, is projected to start. While he performed well as a rookie last year (.914 save percentage), he only has 20 career NHL games under his belt, making him far from a sure thing.
Behind him, veteran Laurent Brossoit is coming off his own hip surgery, and it's unclear if he'll be ready for the start of the season. Journeyman Michael Hutchinson rounds out the depth chart.
The Golden Knights could stick with what they have – to start the season, anyway. They could try and snag a goalie off waivers (there are typically a few intriguing options available to begin each year) or wait it out and try and make an in-season trade when teams may be more willing to sell.
But Vegas' front office, led by president of hockey operations George McPhee and general manager Kelly McCrimmon, has never been known to sit on their hands. They like to take action. And without any palatable goalies left in unrestricted free agency, they'd have to land a netminder via the trade route if they're looking for an immediate upgrade. Here are five options they could target:
Cap hit: $2.25M
Years left: 1
The Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks are fierce Pacific Division rivals, but they may be a perfect match for a trade.
The Sharks have three capable NHL goalies on their roster: Reimer, Kaapo Kahkonen, and Adin Hill. Kahkonen is the least likely of the trio to get traded since they just acquired him at the deadline, he's the youngest, and he's the only one with an additional year of term.
That leaves Hill, 26, and Reimer, 34. Since Hill is the younger of the two, San Jose is likely more inclined to keep him as it continues its rebuild. But a veteran like Reimer would be a perfect one-year stopgap for Vegas until Lehner can return in 2023-24.
Reimer still has plenty of game, too. He posted a .911 save percentage in 48 games on a lousy Sharks team last year. He also owns a lifetime .913 save percentage and has never endured a sub-.900 mark in a season in his 12-year career. His 5.84 goals saved above expected (GSAx) ranked 18th among goalies with at least 20 appearances last season.
The low cap hit is a boon for the cap-strapped Knights, and the trade cost shouldn't be too pricey, given that San Jose has to move one of its goalies before the season starts.