Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has all the confidence in the world Michael Hutchinson can hold down the fort while starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec recovers from a knee sprain.
“Michael Hutchinson played outside the backup role in big games in a higher volume than you would see in a lot of (other) backups. So he has a lot of experience,” Maurice told reporters earlier this week.
But that experience may not be enough to help keep the Jets in the playoff race by the time Pavelec returns, which could be as late as February.
Here are five goalies the Jets should consider trading for.
5. Cam Ward
I know what you’re thinking. This is an expensive option, albeit a short-term one. Cam Ward is in the final season of a six-year, $37.8-million deal. He’s making $6.3 million per season but will become a UFA at the end of the year. It’s a hefty contract to take on, but the Jets certainly have the cap space to do it. Ward, who helped the Carolina Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in 2006, is 6-6-2 this season with a .902 save percentage.
4. Andrei Vasilevskiy
The Tampa Bay Lightning can afford to trade a goalie if the right deal came around. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be the one to make that offer. Andrei Vasilevskiy has seen limited action so far this year after recovering from a blood clot in his left collarbone. In four starts this season, the 21-year-old Russian has posted a 2-2 record with an impressive .929 save percentage. With Ben Bishop still the No. 1 and prospect Kristers Gudlevskis developing in the system, Vasilevskiy may be expendable for the right price.
3. John Gibson
John Gibson is supposed to be the Anaheim Ducks’ goaltender of the future. But the team has not shown any real urgency in rushing the 22-year-old to the NHL, especially with Frederik Anderson firmly holding on to the No. 1 job with the Ducks. The Jets should consider kicking the tires on Gibson, who led Team USA to gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships. While Hutchinson may have a greater body of NHL work, Gibson has more upside and could become the Jets’ goalie of the future.
2. Jimmy Howard
At $5.29 million per season, Jimmy Howard is paid to be a No. 1 goalie. But for the most part, he’s split time with rising star Petr Mrazek in Detroit. The Red Wings need defensive help and the Jets are deep in that department. In 10 starts this season, Howard, who has another four years remaining on his contract, has posted a mediocre 5-4-1 record with a .917 save percentage.
1. James Reimer
James Reimer is set to become a UFA at the end of the season. The 27-year-old Manitoban, who is battling an undisclosed injury, has stolen the No. 1 job away from Jonathan Bernier in Toronto and is playing for a new contract — whether it’s with the Leafs or another team. The rebuilding Maple Leafs may want to go in another direction between the pipes, which would make Reimer a hot commodity at the trade deadline. In his sixth season in Toronto, Reimer has posted a 7-3-1 record and a .934 save percentage.