In a post from last week here on Blackout Dallas, we asked you who you would not keep on the Dallas Stars’ roster. A 68% majority chose back up goaltender Andrew Raycroft as the odd man out, a sentiment that seems to accurately reflect how the fan base feels about Raycroft compared to rookie Richard Bachman. When you take a look at the big picture, it seems all too obvious. Raycroft is in the last year of his two-year deal with the Stars, and with the way Bachman is performing, there is little reason for Raycroft to be resigned. But why let the contract run it’s course, when we can trade him and get something in return? The Stars are going to take one of two paths when Kari Lehtonen returns to action. First, they can send Bachman back down the AHL to return to his role as starter of the Texas Stars. Second, Raycroft is traded, either now or later in the season, and Bachman becomes the permanent back up in Dallas. Some of you might be wondering why the Stars don’t just send Raycroft to the AHL, and that’s a good question. The answer is that Raycroft’s contract is one-way. That means that if we send him to the AHL, he cannot be called up without passing through waivers. A risk that might be too big to take. In this post we will explore some possible teams that might be open to trading for Raycroft, and a little bit of brainstorming on what the Stars could get in return if they decide to move him.
The Lighting are 14-17-3, 12 points out of first in the Southeast Division, and many are looking at goaltending as a chief culprit. Dwayne Roloson, who led the team to a remarkable Eastern Conference Finals run last season, seems to be unable to recapture that magic, but is anyone surprised? Roloson is 42 years old, and many see his performance last year as a burst of confidence, energy, and hope following being traded from the under performing New York Islanders to the playoff-bound Lightning. Roloson has started just 15 games this season, and his record of 6-8-1 with stats like a .883% save percentage show why he has played less than “back up” Mathieu Garon, but Garon has been unimpressive himself. He too has a losing record of 8-9-2, and a save percentage that is marginally better at .902%. Something’s going to have to change in Tampa, and many expect some sort of shift at goaltender to be it.
Carolina is another Southeast Division team that has performed below every expectation that may have been set for them. They’ve undergone a coaching change, their star and Captain Eric Staal is not a factor day in and day out, and the goaltending has suffered. All-Star Cam Ward is having one of the worst seasons of his career, with a record of 11-14-5 and a dreadful save percentage of .898%. But many see this as a by-product of having no reliable back up. Brian Boucher has started just five games this year and he is winless in every single one. It’s obvious the Hurricanes are desperate, throwing out Ward night after night because they can’t afford a loss from Boucher. They might be looking for a more reliable back up, and they could take a chance at Raycroft if they are desperate, and the price is right.
This might seem like the “obvious” choice due to Columbus’ dreadful performance, but it could be a stretch simply due to the mess of a situation that the Blue Jackets are in. Coach Scott Arniel somehow still has a job, and their loaded (and expensive) offensive core is not winning games for them, so of course the blame falls on the goaltenders. Steve Mason has a record of 4-14-1, and back up Curtis Sanford has a record 5-6-3. Like I mentioned, the situation in Columbus is a mess, and no one knows what General Manager Scott Howson will do, if anything. He has made no moves despite virtually no improvement over the course of the season. Everyone expected Arniel to be fired after the first month of the season, but he is still behind the bench, the Blue Jackets are still losing, and it is an inexcusable situation that needs to be fixed. It is the type of season that can endanger the franchise if it is not turned around, or at least shown to be moving in a more positive direction.
I see these teams as the ones most in need of a goaltender, but a couple honorable mentions are in order. Both the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators have issues at back up, and their capable starters (Jonas Hiller and Craig Anderson, respectively) have suffered because of it. Of these two, Anaheim is the one more desperately in need of change, but no one believes a reliable back up goaltender will solve their problems. If something changes in Anaheim, it’s more likely to be the shipment of a player like Ryan Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan, not a trade for a goaltender, unless one is included in a package deal. Ottawa was thought to be in the midst of a rebuilding year, but they’re performing above expectations, and a trade for a back up, while not out of the question, is less likely to occur.
The last bit to cover is what could the Stars get in exchange for Raycroft? Given that Bachman has started eight straight games, and Raycroft’s last two starts saw five-goals allowed each, the prospects may not seem very great. Many of us expected Raycroft to get the start in Nashville, but it was not to be, though he did see action versus St. Louis after a rough two periods of Bachman. If GM Joe Nieuwendyk is trying to ship Raycroft, he can’t expect to get much in return unless a team is looking to gamble. Personally, I see Raycroft worth draft picks, most likely a 3rd or 4th rounder, but possible a 2nd rounder if Joe pulls the right strings. There’s also the possibility of Raycroft being included in a package deal, but then we get into even heavier speculation.
Think another team could be in the mix? Think Raycroft could be worth more? Any trade scenarios to share? Let us know in the comments what you think.
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Tags: Andrew Raycroft Bobby Ryan Brian Boucher Cam Ward Carolina Hurricanes Columbus Blue Jackets Craig Anderson Dallas Stars Dwayne Roloson Jonas Hiller Kari Lehtonen Ottawa Senators Richard Bachman Ryan Getzlaf Steve Mason Tampa Bay Lightning