The Arizona Coyotes need to clear up cap space this off-season and Antti Raanta could be a potential casualty when all is said and done.
The 31-year-old has put up great numbers since moving to the desert three seasons ago and has even been among the Vezina discussions when he has been at his healthiest.
In 90 starts for the Coyotes, Raanta has posted a 41-37-9 record with a goals-against average of 2.47 and a save percentage of .924.
After his first season playing in the desert, the Finnish goalie earned a three-year contract extension holding an AAV of $4.25 million, which is set to expire next year.
Alongside Darcy Kuemper, Raanta has played his part in one of the best goalie tandems in the NHL and helped fill the gap left by the Canadian while he was injured for much of the 2019/20 regular season.
Now, however, with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic having a significant impact on teams financially, leading to the flat salary cap expected to be in place for the next two seasons, the Coyotes are in need of some space to re-work larger areas of need across the roster.
The team’s recent extension of Adin Hill, who was handed a one-year, one-way deal in the desert, has raised the idea that Raanta could be on his way out of Arizona - with his contract only costing $2 million in real money after his $2 million signing bonus was paid.
With the Coyotes needing to find a way to clear out some contracts, the Buffalo Sabres could be an ideal trade partner for Raanta given their long search for a legitimate starting goaltender since the days of Ryan Miller.
The Sabres, who recently named Kevyn Adams as general manager, have $33,658,333 in space available at the time of writing, with Carter Hutton the only goaltender currently locked up for next season.
Hutton had a difficult time in 2019/20, posting a 3.18 goals-against average and a save percentage of just .898 in 31 regular season games - numbers far worse than Raanta’s, while the Sabres arguably boast higher-end offensive talents than the Coyotes.
Nine years in a row the Sabres have failed to reach the post-season, and regularly their goaltending has been an issue that hasn’t been addressed in quite the right way, making Raanta a potentially intriguing player for them to consider.
If the Coyotes could offload Raanta for a pick or two, with the Sabres taking on his entire $4.25 million cap hit, it would help both teams address an area of need this off-season, giving Bill Armstrong’s new team some room to make some key additions ahead of next season.