Connor Hellebuyck has made it known: He will not be re-signing with Winnipeg when his contract ends, which is at the conclusion of the upcoming 2023-24 season. The former Vezina Trophy winner is an elite goaltender and will be coveted by a slew of teams. This opens NHL news to see where Hellebuyck should and could get traded.
There will be plenty of interest in Connor Hellebuyck. pic.twitter.com/4EOgaSeSUv
— JayOnSC (@JayOnSC) June 13, 2023
Hellebuyck’s Deal: Big Money Anywhere?
Hellebuyck is easily one of the five best goaltenders in the NHL. Goalies like him do not get moved so often. So when he says he wants out of Winnipeg, there are more than a handful of contenders who will blow up Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s phone.
The 30-year-old has one year left on his deal, which pays at $6.1 million annually. He does not have a No Movement Clause. In short: he won’t be hard to move.
Also, according to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, Hellebuyck is looking for “Andrei Vasilevskiy-esque money” so that’s a cap hit of around $9.5 million a season. Thus, moving Hellebuyck could also be contingent on him wanting to sign long-term with a team.
For Hellebuyck, he could approach this in many ways. He could play one season for the team he is traded to and then sign for the big money he wants elsewhere. With that in mind, here are the best NHL picks for his landing spots.
Devils: Match Made in Hell?
The most ideal fit for Hellebuyck will be in New Jersey with the Devils. This one checks all the boxes for both Hellebuyck and the Jets. The Devils are a Stanley Cup contender with the cap space to re-sign Hellebuyck to his lofty deal. The team also has both stars and prospects to satisfy Winnipeg if the Jets decide to re-tool or rebuild.
While New Jersey does not have a first-round pick this season, the Devils’ prospect pool is hard to beat. New Jersey can offer Simon Nemec or Akira Schmid, both of whom are worthy of being franchise players.
Hurricanes: Another Metro Division Contender
The Carolina Hurricanes are another title contender that can put forth an enticing offer. The team may not have the loaded prospect pool of Metropolitan Division rival New Jersey, but Carolina has plenty of young players that can be cornerstones in Winnipeg’s rebuild (or re-tool). The Hurricanes can pitch players like Seth Jarvis or Martin Necas on top of their first-round pick (30th overall this year).
Both of Carolina’s goaltenders, Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, are also unrestricted free agents. Carolina can trade for Hellebuyck in a bid to get over the hump. This team does need scorers first but with a projected cap space of up to $24 million, the Hurricanes can acquire Hellebuyck and still go after a top goal-scorer.
The Hurricanes could potentially be the Stanley Cup favorite if they acquired Hellebuyck. They are already fourth on the online sports betting lines at 10-1.
Sabres: Does Buffalo Feel too Familiar?
Winnipeg and Buffalo already linked up to make a blockbuster deal regarding Evander Kane. It’s possible they do it here again as the Sabres, like the Devils, have plenty to offer.
Buffalo could create a package around one of theirits young stars or prospects like Dylan Cozens or Jiri Kulich. Alternatively, Buffalo also has a young promising goaltender in Devon Levi.
While the Jets’ brass may be satisfied with the returns on Hellebuyck, the goaltender may have mixed feelings playing in Buffalo. For one, it will be like playing for Winnipeg: a team with prolific firepower but a lack of defending. Hellebuyck will be worked tirelessly, as he has been in Winnipeg.
Still, the Sabres are closer to contending with a budding superstar in Tage Thompson and one of the best upstart defense corps. Buffalo will be popular NHL predictions to end its playoff drought if it gets Hellebuyck.