As the Washington Capitals finish their Stanley Cup parading and got down to the business of planning for next season, they conceded one of the most commonly expected prospects of this offseason: Philipp Grubauer will be on the trade block.
Not so much because they want to move the German goaltender, but because they have a promising prospect in the wings and Grubauer wants a chance to carry the load for a team. That’s not a chance he’s likely to get in D.C. after Braden Holtby reclaimed the job and led them to their first ever league playoff championship.
MacLellan said Grubauer wants to be a No. 1 goaltender. He’d like to keep him and Holtby, but he’s going to explore a trade for Grubauer to do his thing.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) June 13, 2018
MacLellan said he'll explore trade opportunities for backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to give him the opportunity to be a No. 1 elsewhere.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) June 13, 2018
So we return to the question as it relates to the New York Islanders, who have Jaroslav Halak hitting unrestricted free agency and Thomas Greiss coming off a disastrous season: Do you think 1) Grubauer is good enough to takeover the reins, and 2) how much are you willing to offer in a trade to find out?
Grubauer-to-the-Islanders isn’t a new idea. It’s been rumbled about simply through logical inference during offseason musings. We even arranged a “trade” in SB Nation’s NHL Mock Draft — and we are normally way too lazy to orchestrate trades! — for Grubauer from the Capitals (well, from their proxy Japers’ Rink).
So perhaps you’ve already weighed in during that thread. Or maybe you’ve changed your mind since then. Or maybe you missed it, and now is the time to let your opinion be shared.
Factors in Trade Bids
There likely aren’t a lot of bidders for Grubauer. Some have suggested Carolina, but they’d have to move one of their goalies on significant contracts.
“Don’t trade in the division.” Is that a thing? It can be a thing, but surely the Caps know it takes much more to win a Cup than acquiring a thus-far-career backup goalie. They might prefer to deal Grubauer elsewhere, but I doubt it’s a deal breaker.
The value of your picks. We dealt a first-rounder — the Isles have two right now — for Grubauer in the mock draft, but that was partly for entertainment and the fact our mock draft only goes one round. You could argue that Grubauer, with a less impressive resume than Cory Schneider when Lou Lamoriello dealt a 9th overall pick to get him to the Devils, is more likely worth a couple of second-rounders.
Of course, if you argue Grubauer isn’t worth a mid-round first, you’re also admitting that he is no sure thing to be a reliable number one.
That’s the risk here. But options are limited. Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings is...not convincing and his career at age 34 really has only one direction to head. I’d sooner bring back Halak, who is a year younger.
Carter Hutton had a breakout year and is an unrestricted free agent (as is Jonathan Bernier, who had a bit of a bounce-back year), but that means waiting until the UFA period, when they can shuffle around — and neither is a sure thing. (Personally, I’d be happy with Hutton though.)
Anyway, Grubauer is 26. His career high in games played is just 35, though it’s one he reached this past season, as he spelled Holtby during the incumbent’s struggles and, in some ways, saved the Capitals season so that they could even get to where they eventually landed.
So: If you’re the Isles, do you do it? Do you have any better options?