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Connor Hellebuyck: don’t be surprised if the Kings are interested
For the second year running, the Los Angeles Kings saw their season come to an end in the playoffs at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers. Despite good work from Phillip Danault and Anze Kopitar to limit Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Alberta outfit found a way to overcome the Kings.

Joonas Korpisalo’s difficult series in net was one of the reasons why the Californians ended up losing. Acquired at the trade deadline, he did an honest job on the whole, but had a difficult end to the series that nailed his team’s coffin shut.

It was the second consecutive year of questionable performance in front of the net for the Kings, and with Korpisalo set to become a free agent, the team will need to find its #1 goaltender for next season. Pheonix Copley is an option, of course, but if I had to go out on a limb, I’d expect the club to be very aggressive in going after a big goalie, like Connor Hellebuyck or Linus Ullmark.

Let me explain.

For the Kings, the goal is no longer just to get into the playoffs: the club now wants to make a run in the spring. The veterans are starting to age and the youngsters are starting to arrive, so the window is wide open for them.

So getting a big goalie to help the club out makes sense, especially since that’s where the Kings are weak right now. In the long term, Erik Portillo may be an option, but until then, we’ll need a short-term option.

And that’s where the two goalies come in.

Hellebuyck has just suffered elimination again with the Jets, and clearly, he doesn’t seem interested in being part of a rebuild. His words, not mine.

The Jets goaltender will become an independent player in the summer of 2024, so he has just one year left on his contract (at a cap hit of $6,166,666). The Jets might therefore be willing to withhold some salary in order to facilitate a transaction.

And if the Jets were willing to take Cal Petersen’s contract (and Petersen doesn’t have the Jets on his list of 10 teams he doesn’t want to be traded to), it could make things even easier.

Otherwise, as for Ullmark, we know that the Bruins will have to get creative to meet the salary cap next season. One way to help out might be to trade Ullmark to make Jeremy Swayman the team’s #1 goalie next season.

Swayman is a restricted free agent this summer.

What’s more, the Bruins also have young Brandon Bussi within the organization who could make the jump. Trading Ullmark becomes a very real possibility for them.

However, Ullmark has two more contract years at $5 million per year and can submit a list of 16 teams to which he refuses to be traded. If the Kings don’t make the list, he could be a good option for the next two years (and mentor Portillo when he gets to the NHL).

In short, these are two names for the Kings to keep an eye on, but clearly, I expect them to be aggressive in going after a true elite-caliber #1 goaltender.

And if they can pass on Petersen to another team in the process (even if it means giving away one of their many young forwards), it’ll be worth it.

In gusto

– He may have a better series than Connor McDavid, but that doesn’t make him a better player.

– Signing in Tampa Bay.

– He hasn’t paid his taxes.

– Masataka Yoshida is in great form (much to the delight of the Red Sox). My text on the subject.

– Very nice gesture on his part.

– Great performance for Russell.

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