Because the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of a couple of teams with two really good goalies on their hands, naturally, we turn to them as a potential trade partner. Ben Bishop’s contract is expiring soon, and he’s a proven quality starter with a young up-and-comer on his heels.
But let’s flip that around. What if the Flames traded for the up-and-comer, Andrei Vasilevskiy, instead?
And what if they dealt Jon Gillies in exchange for him?
So, this idea all came together earlier today. Way back, I was conversing with someone who follows the Lightning about what it would take to acquire Ben Bishop; today, I went back to her and suggested what it would take to acquire Vasilevskiy instead – and suggested the Flames’ sixth overall pick, similar to the deal at the 2013 draft that saw Cory Schneider go to New Jersey for the ninth pick.
We took it a little further and threw Jonathan Drouin into the mix, because why not? If he still wants out of Tampa Bay, Calgary’s a fit for him, too. Sam Bennett still needs a best friend like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are.
At which point Kent chimed in that at that rate, Tampa might want Gillies in exchange.
And that’s when things really took off, as we all simultaneously realized: there could be a real fit here. Maybe not at these exact parameters – i.e., switch out Drouin for Alex Killorn if necessary – but Gillies could be the Flames’ best trade chip.
The Flames need a starting goalie. Players like Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop are options, but someone a bit younger – someone not yet in his prime, someone the same age as the rest of the Flames’ core – is probably preferred. Someone like Matt Murray or Andrei Vasilevskiy.
All three of these goalies came out of the 2012 draft class. While Gillies likely isn’t ready for an NHL role just yet – particularly due to his lost rookie professional season thanks to hip surgery – Murray and Vasilevskiy likely are. We’re talking about three young goalies with high-end potential, but two of them have already taken that next step.
This is where things start to work out to the Flames’ advantage. Because under the proposed rules, teams can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft.
The Flames do not have to worry about that. Gillies is exempt from it.
The Penguins and the Lightning do have to worry about that. Especially with Fleury and Bishop both having no move clauses, which forces their teams to protect them – leaving their young goalies wide open to be taken for nothing. (Bishop still needs to be re-signed, but if Tampa does that, what’s the bet his new contract includes another NMC?)
The likelihood the Penguins and Lightning want to lose their young prospective goalies for nothing seems very low.
Enter: Gillies. Let’s say he gets traded to Tampa in exchange for Vasilevskiy. There may be some other parts to this theoretical deal, but this is the main focus.
Calgary gets: immediate goaltending help who could very easily be the long-term solution for the Flames’ netminding woes. We’re talking about 22-year-olds, here. They’re not proven starters just yet – but they’re more proven than Gillies at this point in time.
Tampa Bay gets: a high-end goalie prospect who isn’t ready quite yet, but doesn’t need to be protected in the expansion draft. He’s less proven than his counterparts, but there’s still a lot of great potential right there, and he isn’t going to be lost for nothing.
Keep in mind, this isn’t restricted to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay – Detroit, with Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard, could be a candidate, as well. There are a lot of possibilities here.
Build around a deal as you must, but at its core level, both teams get something they need. It’s a potential win-win, and one that could speed up the Flames’ rebuild that much faster.