I get it, the Ottawa Senators have had problems in net since Craig Anderson left. I get it completely, but trading for Connor Hellebuyck is not the option to pursue in my opinion. He’s the second-best goaltender in the NHL, but here’s why he should NOT be on Ottawa’s wishlist.
Connor Hellebuyck is a top-five goalie in the NHL, and in my opinion, he’s actually the second-best. At first glance, I’d be all in to acquire Hellebuyck, but it has to be remembered that he’s up for a contract next season, at the same time that Alex DeBrincat will be a pending unrestricted free agent assuming he only gets his one-year qualifying offer this summer. This would mean that considering the salary cap, the Sens would have to choose between an elite 40-goal scorer and an elite goalie, which is an incredibly hard thing to pick between. Even more, you have to consider Jake Sanderson who will ALSO be up for a significant contract extension. It makes it that much harder to make room for a goalie that could cost you up to 10 million dollars to re-sign.
We already know that the Sens are not re-signing Cam Talbot, which means that Anton Forsberg is poised to be the Ottawa Senators Starting Goalie at the beginning of the season, which is a thought I’m incredibly comfortable with. He’s a very good goalie, who’s impressed me so far. I’m not saying he’s going to be the starter for the next 10 years, but he doesn’t need to be. In my eyes, Ottawa’s goalie of the future is Mads Sogaard. I think the perfect development plan for him is this:
2023-24: AHL Starter
2024-25: NHL Backup
2025-26+: NHL Starter
That leaves the question as to who will be Ottawa’s backup next season. I think many options are out there, in fact, I wrote a piece on it pretty recently.
As I’ve said earlier, Connor Hellebuyck is a top 3 goalie in the NHL. Now that he’s rumored to be available, EVERY team in the NHL will push to acquire his services. It will be an insane bidding war, and only the higher bidder will acquire his services. As I mentioned earlier, if you trade for Hellebuyck, you essentially are choosing to re-sign him instead of Alex DeBrincat, so you have to include him in the trade, but what else? Considering it’ll be an auction type of trade, it’ll most likely end up costing multiple picks, and at that level, I just don’t think it’s worth it.
If I’m trading for an elite goalie, I’m going after Juuse Saros or Thatcher Demko, who are two of the other 5 best goalies in the NHL and are a couple of years younger than Hellebuyck. Both Demko and Saros are 27 compared to Hellebucyk’s turning 30 in just a couple of weeks. Granted it’s not a massive age gap, but it’s an age cap that’s to be considered when you’re looking at your goalie for at least 5 years, if not 10.
I think Connor Hellebuyck is an outstanding goalie and while it would be incredibly amazing to have a goalie of his caliber on this team, I just don’t think it’s a realistic option considering how this team is built. All you need is an above-average starter, and I think Ottawa will already have that with Mads Sogaard being close to ready for full-time NHL hockey. I think Sogaard will be one of the better goalies in the NHL once he’s ready. It’s just going to take some patience, and I’m more than happy to have Forsberg as that stopgap in between. He’s more than capable of leading this team to the playoffs with the help of an average backup behind him.