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NHL Draft: With The Dallas Stars Looking for an NHL-Ready Goalie, Who is Still Available

Another day at the NHL draft, another day the Dallas Stars may very well try and grab a goalie with some of the assets they have available.

The Stars have been floated as a possible destination for nearly every high-end free agent and likely trade candidate goalie on the market. The loudest rumblings on Friday came around New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot, who has also been linked to the San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers.

Those negotiations appear to be ongoing – a first-round pick was rumored to be on the table at one point, though no one is quite sure whose or if it was a 2015 or 2016 pick. But the Stars may also be keeping their options open, according to NHL insiders.

That’s the first official confirmation we’ve had that the Stars are looking for a 1A-1B type situation, though it was certainly implied by the caliber of goalie the team has been linked with to this point. Given that appears to be the direction the Stars are headed, let’s take a look at the likely targets still available as of Saturday morning.

Cam Talbot

As mentioned above, it appears Talbot is the Stars first choice for a 1B goalie. Even though he is scheduled to be a UFA after next season, the Stars logic is likely a year with him with either fix Lehtonen, in which case Talbot can play his odds on the free agent market, or it shows Lehtonen is clearly on a slide, in which case the Stars try and move or buy out Lehtonen with two years left on his deal and try to keep Talbot.

The Stars aren’t the only one with their eyes on Talbot, though, and how much that actually drives up the price remains to be seen. If the Rangers really want a high pick in this year’s draft for Talbot, this move is likely to take place early in the morning. The Stars would likely prefer a package built around a younger NHL player, perhaps Jyrki Jokipakka or Jamie Oleksiak, along with a pick and/or prospect.

Eddie Lack

The Vancouver Canucks backup hasn’t been as openly shopped as some others on this list, but his name does keep popping up in rumors since, like the Boston Bruins later on this list, Vancouver has too many goalies. With Ryan Miller’s name being written in ink, either Lack or Jacob Markstrom are probably headed out.

Lack is the more appealing of the two to Dallas with a longer and more successful history in the NHL. As with Talbot, the real question here is price, and unlike the Rangers goalie, there haven’t been enough strong rumblings to get a sense of what the Canucks might want. The Canucks are cap tight at this point with $5 million left for five players, but they may be trying to remedy some of that by moving Kevin Bieksa. Mark Spector believes the price is something along the lines of a second-round pick, though he also suggests that may be high.

Antti Niemi

Marcus covered why Niemi might appeal to the Stars in this piece he wrote for Friday, and that rationale is remains solid, especially if the trade market prices get out of hand. If the Stars go this route, we likely won’t know until next week when UFA silly season begins.

The risks with Niemi are that silly season, of course, which can drive prices through the roof if other teams are looking for starters with a long history and the fact that he might not want to come to a 1A/1B situation when starting jobs might be available. And if it gets this far and Niemi finds a better option, will the Stars be left in the same situation with the backup spot as they’ve been the past few seasons?

All of the Boston Bruins

With the moves the Boston Bruins made on Friday, from the somewhat sensible to the downright puzzling, they are now potentially four goalies deep with Tuukka Rask, Martin Jones, Malcom Subban and Zach McIntyre.

While McIntyre and Subban may be appealing to teams looking for a young, promising backup or prospect for the future, they are not likely candidates for Dallas as they simply don’t have the NHL experience the Stars are looking for. McIntyre is highly-touted but newly signed, and Subban has just a single NHL contest.

That leaves Rask and Jones. While Rask’s name was floated on Friday as a potential target for teams clearly looking for a full-time starter, the Stars are likely to be gun-shy about the six years remaining on his contract at a $6 million cap hit per season, especially if Lehtonen’s $5.9 million cap hit isn’t heading back in return.

That leaves Jones, a restricted free agent this offseason with a solid 0.923 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average in two seasons as a backup for the Kings, as the best fit. Would the Bruins be willing to move him? Quite possibly, given the goalie depth they boast and the difficult-to-move Rask contract. Jones will get a decent, though not spectacular, raise this offseason, and the Bruins remain cap-strapped as well. As for what they’d want in return, that’s anyone’s guess given their moves on Friday.