GoaltendingIrresponsible RumormongeringOffseason

Trading Antti Raanta

New York Post

After months of speculation, debate and general hand-wringing, we now know that it was Oscar Lindberg who ended up being poached off the Rangers’ roster by the Vegas Golden Knights.  Various options had been “sure things” since the off-season began.  Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast and of course Antti Raanta have been speculated to be joining a newest team in the desert.

It’s Raanta I want to discuss this morning.  The 28-year old Finn had a tremendous year as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup and many feel that he is an interesting trade chip, given the low cost options on the market and Benoit Allaire’s seeming ability to turn your average midtown commuter into a quality NHL backup.  Let’s dive a little deeper into market and trade comparables and see if Raanta is worth moving.


Raanta has one year remaining on his current deal, with a clean $1m salary.  Obviously, this is a bargain in any cap environment, but even more so with a relatively static cap the past few seasons.  After this year, Raanta is eligible for UFA status, at which time he is likely to command a significant raise, even as a backup or platoon option.  If the Rangers intend to extract off-ice value from Raanta, their only opportunity is to move him this offseason.  Sure, they may be able to recoup a late pick or two by trading his rights to a team looking to get a jump on the UFA market, but not nearly what they could look to obtain should they decide to trade him now.


There has already been something of a goalie carousel this offseason.  Calgary, Dallas, Vegas and Carolina have made moves to shore up their crease.  The quality of those deals is up for some debate (*coughDallasandCalgarycough*).  However, these were goaltending needy teams that are now ostensibly out of the Raanta market.  Let’s take a look at some teams that at least on the surface would need a goaltender:

Buffalo: The Sabres traded a late first round pick to obtain who they thought was their goalie of the future in Robin Lehner two off-seasons ago.  Lehner is exceptionally talented, but has shown himself to be something of a psychopath on the ice who is allergic to saves in a shootout.  People tend to forget he is still only 24, but with a new regime in Buffalo, the front office may want to move on and look to install someone with a little more stability for a young Sabres team.

Ottawa: Even though Craig Anderson has become something of a folk hero in Ottawa for his wife’s courageous battle with cancer, the fact is that he is thirty six years old and a pending UFA.  Raanta could platoon with Anderson this season (a scenario in which Anderson finds himself much more statistically successful) and sign a deal to see him take over the crease full time next season.  Not the cleanest fit, but it could work.

Flyers: Currently, their starter is Michal Neuvirth. Enough said.  All kidding aside, I doubt the Rangers would be looking to bolster the Flyers’ crease, but they have as great a need as any.

Winnipeg: This one is a little perplexing to me, as Connor Hellebuyck is one of the highest ceiling young goaltenders in the game.  If they are ready to move on from him, the Rangers should strap on the snow tires and drive Raanta up there and bring Connor back.  I could see a strategy where Raanta is brought in to take some of the pressure off the youngster, but their focus should be developing their franchise goalie.

Arizona: After offloading Mike Smith (and his contract!) on Calgary last week, the ‘Yotes are currently rostering only Louis Domingue between the pipes.  Domingue is very talented, but suffered from inconsistency and a pretty terrible Arizona roster last year, so we don’t know how sold they are on the young French Canadian.  Raanta could definitely be a fit here.

Vancouver: The Canucks could feel perfectly comfortable handing over the reigns to Jacob Markstrom, and there are rumors that Ryan Miler could be re-signed, but it seems like more of the same from one of the least effective front offices in the game.  I like Markstrom, but his upside doesn’t justify his downside if his body mechanics get wacky.  He has yet to really put it together and he isn’t exactly young anymore (27).  However, big goalies take a little bit longer and could be more effective as he enters his late 20’s.  Either way, Raanta could be a fit.


As I have discussed ad nauseum, especially in the context of trading Henrik Lundqvist, the return on goaltender trades has historically been a dumpster fire.  However, trading for up and comers that have the potential to start, especially with futures as the return, has been historically better.  Let’s take a look at a couple recent scenarios:

Frederik Anderson: Andersen was a 26 year old RFA when traded by the Ducks to the Leafs.  He was able to net a late 1st and a 2nd.  The Leafs immediately signed him to a five-year extension.  I feel like this was a unique situation of a very young team looking for some stability in net.  Could be Arizona or Buffalo in our scenario.

Martin Jones: Jones was a strange case, as he was first traded from LA to Boston in the Milan Lucic deal, then flipped back to San Jose in a separate trade for futures.  He was obtained for a 1st round pick and Sean Curaly.  Tough comparable here.

Brian Elliott: The Flames were seeking to capitalize off of Elliott’s shutdown playoffs for the Blues and were prepared to give him the starting job this season.  We know how that movie ended, but he was cashed in for a 1st and 3rd round draft pick.

Scott Darling: Darling was a pending UFA that cost Carolina a 3rd round pick before he signed his extension.  Not a great direct comparable, as Raanta has a year of control left.

Which, of course, brings us to our most direct comparable, Cam Talbot.  His was last year’s Raanta in a pretty similar market.  Fans walked away from that deal mostly disappointed, as Talbot only yielded a 2nd and 3rd (they swapped 7th’s) when he was dealt to Edmonton.


So, what should the expectation on a deal for Raanta be from the Rangers’ perspective?  Since there not many truly goaltending hungry teams out there, I wouldn’t expect a king’s (no pun intended) random for Raanta.  I would think it would involve two draft picks, one late first/early second rounder and a third or fourth.  Maybe the trade partner has a young roster player worth discussing, but that is unlikely.

Who knows? Maybe they get creative and use Raanta as a sweetener.  If Winnipeg is really interested, maybe he is an extra piece in a Jacob Trouba deal?  Either way, I wouldn’t get too excited about restocking the prospect cupboard in any deal for the Ranger backup, but it does raise the question about whether the known quality of Raanta is more valuable to New York on the ice than his replacement and a couple of semi-valuable draft picks?

What do you think?

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  • I think that while Allaire has been able to perform magic in the past, the $1M price on Raanta is so inexpensive, that someone would have to really make it worth our while to make a deal. He can be used as a trade chip, but an aging Hank and no real suitable back-up makes me think we should use other resources ahead of Raanta as a trade chip.

    Just my opinion.

    • Especially when you consider that the pros we had in NA as of last year (Halverson, Skapski, Hellburg) are either playing terrible, likely going away, or are already gone, respectively.

  • I think if Raanta sweetens a deal that JG needs to make, he is traded..
    I dont think he will be used for picks… maybe traded during this seasons deadline if one of the youngster shows he can back up the king?

    Stepan is rumored up to Montreal – could the habs want a backup too?

  • Benoit definitely has a great track record with the average mid-town commuter.

    And that will work until it doesn’t – and then what? As they say in the investment world – Past performance may not be indicative of future results

    I really like Raanta but also understand the assets he could bring back are appealing.

    Need to be walking the fine line here – The king will be another year older, another step slower and would seem to require a little more rest to stay fresh. We need to be sure we are comfortable with whoever it is.


    • Backups are a dime a dozen, though. Allaire turned a guy from Aladama-Huntsville into a Vezina-caliber goalie. You know what other former UAH goalies do now? One’s Kurt Russell’s son. The others don’t play in the NHL.

      • Exactly 43. Having a good goalie coach can turn a decent goalie into a perfectly fine NHL goalkeeper. Developing an NHL goalie is more about breaking bad and lazy habits that goalies develop from facing inferior competition.

  • I would add Detroit as a possibly destination. Mrazek was just left unprotected in the expansion draft so they’ve clearly soured on him as their starter. Jimmy Howard played in 26 games last season and is clearly not their goaltender of the future either.

    • FWIW, I don’t think Detroit matches up well in a player for player trade as they are fairly thin in terms of D-men and D prospects.

  • I hope Gorton has a real plan and is not sitting and waiting too long. Teams are beginning to make their moves and I am beginning to worry that all we are going to come away with are 5 picks and (maybe) Smith and Shattenkirk (who we will overpay for).

    Our 4th line needs some work and we still need some depth on defense and down the middle. Unless we feel that our first rounder can step right in and play a big role, it is time to get aggressive.

    • Yeah I sure hope they spend the 21st pick on a center/forward. If Hayes is the man to put in the 2c spot and then getting a future top 9 center to come in right away to play on the 4th line and finding a 3c like Thornton is a must soon.

  • Another comparable is Cam Talbot. I personally thought Talbot was more attractive and the Rangers did not get much for him. I also think goaltenders net more in March than in June.

    I would not be looking to trade Raanta. That said, for Ranger management, the return isn’t a hypothetical. If someone offers a good price, take it. If not, don’t. This isn’t two years ago when the Rangers were in a salary cap crunch and felt the need to offload Talbot’s salary. I suspect the Rangers will be lucky to replace Raanta at the same salary.

    Finally, how good is Allaire really? Yes, Talbot and Raanta did very well; but that’s only two. Maybe we are talking about two talented guys. He didn’t have much success in the pre-Biron days with Valiquette et al. Chad Johnson did not prosper. Now, I don’t doubt that he is a first rate coach, but the idea that he can take a random goalie and make him into a first class NHL goaltender may be over the top.

    • “Finally, how good is Allaire really? Yes, Talbot and Raanta did very well; but that’s only two. Maybe we are talking about two talented guys. He didn’t have much success in the pre-Biron days with Valiquette et al. Chad Johnson did not prosper. Now, I don’t doubt that he is a first rate coach, but the idea that he can take a random goalie and make him into a first class NHL goaltender may be over the top.”


      This is a very good point that most people overlook, IMO. He’s a great coach, not a wizard, and to take for granted his apparent ‘goalie-whisperer’ status would be a big mistake.

      Unless we get an offer we can’t refuse, you’re right, we’re better off keeping Raanta (for now, at least).

    • They should add Raanta and even Grabner to a Stepan package, if need be add Graves to that list if that’s what it would take to acquire Trouba.

  • Then we pick up somebody like Cody Glass with the #7 pick, a pretty good rookie center ice man who can be the 4th line center.

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