Goaltending for the Carolina Hurricanes has become an annual discussion. Without any true homegrown goalies in the system that are poised to take a larger role with the team, the Canes have relied on trades and free agency. This has led to the revolving door of goalies in Anton Khudobin, Eddie Lack, Michael Leighton, Scott Darling, Curtis McElhinney, Anton Forsberg, James Reimer and Petr Mrazek all being between the pipes since 2015.
Coming into the offseason the question still remains for the Hurricanes, and recently it’s been reported by Elliotte Friedman that the Canes are interested in Toronto Maple Leafs starting goaltender Frederik Andersen. Andersen was originally drafted by the Hurricanes in the 2010 draft but went unsigned and was re-drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2012. He is under contract through the 2020-2021 season with a $5 million cap hit, but is he worth trading for?
More of the same
While he might seem like an upgrade for the Canes, he doesn’t offer a huge increase over the current tandem. In the most recent season, Andersen recorded a .909 sv% and a 2.85 GAA. The save percentage ranks between Mrazek (.905) and Reimer (.914), while the GAA would rank behind both Mrazek and Reimer who had a 2.69 and 2.66 respectively. Breaking down the save percentages by danger, nothing really changes. Andersen ranks between Mrazek and Reimer in all breakdowns of danger.
Pulling back more for a larger sample size, Andersen’s best season with the Leafs is a .918 sv% and a 2.67 GAA. These both came in his first season in Toronto in the 2016-2017 season. Every other season he has declined to this current point. The only benefit is that the Danish goaltender has been more consistent with around a .915 sv% year in and year out while Reimer and Mrazek have had their ups and downs.
The biggest performance issue is that Andersen is coming off his worst season statistically while Reimer is coming off a good rebound season that should see him playing more consistently next season. Looking at the playoffs Andersen hasn’t won a playoff series since 2014-2015. Playoffs aren’t all on the goalie’s shoulders but has struggled to close out games and hasn’t done anything to take over a series.
Looking at his contract, he has a $5 million cap hit for just one more season. Both Mrazek and Reimer have contracts that run through the 2020-2021 season with $3.125 million and $3.4 million cap hits, respectively. Andersen is more expensive for essentially the same goalie that the Canes already have.
Is the cost worth it?
This doesn’t take into account the cost of acquiring Andersen from the Leafs who are looking to make a deal to change up the roster after continual first round playoff exits. They aren’t looking to make a move for the sake of making a move so they will want a piece as an upgrade from their current team. The only benefit for the Canes is that they would be taking $5 million off their book which could lessen the deal.
It’s not worth it for the Canes to move any piece that can contribute to the team for a marginal at best goaltending upgrade. The only way a trade makes sense between these teams is if Carolina is getting something to take on cap space, which isn’t going to happen with a starting goaltender.
The Canes aren’t looking for just replacement-level goaltending; they are looking for an upgrade to the next tier of goalies which don’t just grow on trees. There are also some big names coming up in free agency with Braden Holtby (though he also may not be an upgrade after last season), Robin Lehner, Jacob Markstrom and more.
While they will be more expensive looking at the contract, those options can offer an actual upgrade in goaltending. If the Canes can get a deal done with one of the bigger names it could play out well, but Andersen would represent a marginal upgrade at best and likely isn’t worth what he would cost.