This is Anaheim Calling to the hockey world.
The goaltending battle continues in Anaheim, and given the contract situation of the Ducks' netminders, it would seem that the time to unload the extra goalie is fast appraoching. However, reports have surfaced that Florida is seeking to move Vokoun and that the Thrashers will seek to move one of their three goal keepers with NHL experience.
Arthur, will the Ducks still be able to get a good deal for their surplus goalie this season, or will they be forced to keep Giguere and HIller until the offseason to raise their value?
Well, I don't see how waiting until the offseason would improve the situation. Hiller won't re-sign to play backup or split starts for another year, so carrying them to the offseason is really just a way of choosing Giguere and getting nothing for Hiller.
And I don't think it will come to that, or even a last minute deal. There's supposedly a Toronto trade in negotiation. Whatever happens in the market, I think Burke is comfortable with Giguere as a go-between for Allaire and Gustavsson next year. He won't mind paying 6M for that. That will be there as a contingent plan until the deadline.
But I don't know if moving Hiller will be as easy as everyone, including you, seems to think. Playoff teams won't necessarily flock to him considering he's a UFA whom it would be dangerous to bargain with after a dominant playoff performance. And cellar teams won't necessarily be drawn to him either. Yes, he is the raw skill Giguere-alternative with a great post-season on his record, but that also described Ilya Bryzgalov to a T. And Burke couldn't get even a minor deal done for Bryz, at least not in the silly self-imposed promise-keeping window he gave himself.
Ultimately, as ugly as Giguere for Toskala+ is, it may be the only deal on the table, even in March. And, in that it rids us of ~4M in salary next year, that would still be a 'good deal' for Giguere.
I think it's important to say that a team that trades for Hiller is one that is trying to win the Cup. The best fits for Hiller are places like Chicago and Washington, where cap moves need to be made anyway and goalie security would be the most important piece for ensuring a deep playoff run. In that case, it doesn't matter if Hiller dominates in the postseason, because each of those teams have plans beyond this year: Niemi and Huet in Chicago and Varlamov in Washington.
And you think one of those teams will give us more than a draft pick to rent Hiller for a couple months?
Well, these are teams that could benefit from a salary dump anyway. So, we could definitely get a serviceable, though slightly overpaid, player at the deadline.
But I am worried about the Ducks ability to make moves with goaltending becoming more of an expendable commodity. Vokoun is in the top 10 in SV% and shutou ts. He can also be had at the same price as Jiggy, about 6M cap hit for one more season. Vokoun is also playing for an arguably less talented club to put up those numbers. Johan Hedberg is second in the league in SV % and sixth in GAA. While the Thrashers might think about keeping a goalie with that stat line, they'd still be able to deal a once second overall pick in Kari Lehtonen, who will be back from injury soon and has backstopped this team to the playoffs before, or a promising and young Pavelec, who has a serviceable .913 SV% and 8 wins (twice as many as Giguere).
I think you're right in saying that Burke would much rather have Giguere, and that's my fear. If Murray doesn't get aggressive soon, his only option will be to trade with Toronto, and that will greatly reduce his leverage in the market. After the way Murray handled the Beauchemin and Wisniewski negotiations this offseason, I have to conclude he's not the shrewdest of negotiators. I think that this influx of talent into the market will force Murray to dance with his one willing partner, Burke, and we will end up with a very unimpressive return for a more than serviceable keeper.