New Jersey Devils Could Trade for Sharks' Kaapo Kahkonen

While the Devils search for an answer in net, an unlikely candidate has emerged in San Jose Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.
San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights
San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

It's no secret that the New Jersey Devils are and have been sniffing around the goalie market this season. Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson has been the main topic, but there have been a lot of question marks regarding any potential deal - especially the price. What if the Devils took a look elsewhere in the West for a more low-key option?

On Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek's 32 Thoughts podcast, the two discussed the goaltending market at great length, including Gibson, Connor Hellebuyck, Jake Allen, and Eric Comrie. They also mentioned that the Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, and Edmonton Oilers would have made a trade already if the price was right. Then came the curveball.

"I'll tell you this," Friedman started. "One goalie whose name I heard a little bit was [Kaapo] Kahkonen, from San Jose. Expiring deal, and if you look at the underlying numbers - the Moneypuck numbers - very good goals saved above expected."

"I think there's a few teams that thought about him," Friedman added. "Number one, what's the price? Number two, the only negative I heard was that you just don't know. He's just never really had to do it before," he concluded. So, should the Devils be one of those teams if they aren't already?

Per Moneypuck, Kaapo Kahkonen is currently 16th in the league in goals saved above expected, with 6.6. For reference, Ilya Sorokin is 13th with 7.5, and John Gibson is 19th with 5.8. Despite having only played in 18 games, Kahkonen's performance thus far has been nothing to sneeze at.

On the flip side, the 27-year-old's performance last season was something to sneeze at. In the 2022-23 season, Kahkonen had -24.6 goals saved above expected, which was the second-worst in the entire NHL. Only Elvis Merzlikins (-25.9) was worse. Currently, Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek is the second-worst in the league, with -12.

So Kahkonen, a pending unrestricted free agent, has a history of being good. He also has a history of being not good. It feels like, in the worst-case scenario, the Devils would be signing themselves up for Vanecek 2.0. As Friedman mentioned, price is going to be the kicker. The Devils had traded a third-round pick for Vanecek in July 2022, and honestly, that feels like a steep price to pay for a pending free agent who is a complete wildcard.

Related. It's Still Not The Right Time to Trade for a Goalie. It's Still Not The Right Time to Trade for a Goalie. dark

The Devils are probably more than willing to make a move if they know they're getting the real deal. However, it's important to keep this in mind: New Jersey does not have to win the Stanley Cup this year. This is a slow burn with a young core and a young team. The Devils must keep building towards tomorrow and avoid getting drunk on one year of success.