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What is a goalie really worth on the NHL trade market?

Ryan Miller of the Buffalo SabresRyan Miller of the Sabres could become only the second starting goaltender under contract to be traded since 2010.  (Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

So you say your team has a goalie it might want to move before the trade deadline. Maybe he's been an Olympian or an All-Star. Maybe he's just a young buck with potential to be both.

And since everyone knows that a good keeper can make or break a team, you're wanting a fair return in any transaction. Fair as in, a first-rounder, a top prospect, a roster player, concession stand rights and maybe a little something off the top for the guys who are working hard down on the loading docks.

Well, it rarely works out that way. In fact, most returns when a goaltender is moved are fairly underwhelming.

Are Bruins inflating market for Malcom Subban?

To set the stage for what could be a couple of interesting swaps over the next week, we collected every trade involving a netminder during the past four years. There are no 1:1 comparisons to this year's market -- unless Ben Bishop moves again, obviously -- but there are a couple of transactions that give you an idea of what to expect when you expect your goalie to be dealt.

Keep in mind that a player's contract situation is likely the single most important factor in any trade discussion.

Note that this list only includes deals in which a goaltender was a major component so, for example, the 2012 trade that saw Calgary get Karri Ramo as a throw-in along with Mike Cammalleri isn't included (although Ramo now figures prominently into the team's future plans).

2013

Dustin Tokarski (to Montreal) for Cedrick Desjardins (to Tampa Bay)

A pair of minor leaguers swap sweaters. We could see a few deals like this as teams look to make slight upgrades on their depth chart.

Tim Thomas (to New York Islanders) for conditional pick (to Boston)

Salary cap dump that moved money off one team's ledger (Boston) and onto another's. Probably a one-off.

Henrik Karlsson (to Chicago) for seventh-rounder (to Calgary)

Karlsson was unable to lock down the backup job with the Flames. The Blackhawks bought depth at a bargain price.

2012

Sergei Bobrovsky (to Columbus ) for second-rounder, two fourth-rounders (to Philadelphia)

One of the most telling swaps. Philly managed a solid return for a player who was relegated to a secondary role after the acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov. The Flyers wisely took another goalie, Anthony Stolarz, with one of the picks. It was a gamble for Columbus, but nearly a year later, the deal looks like a steal for the Blue Jackets.

Jonas Gustavsson (to Detroit) for seventh-rounder (to Toronto)

Detroit places a low-risk bet on a backup with health problems.

Anders Lindback (to Tampa Bay) for two second-rounders and third-rounder (to Nashville)

Despite Linback's limited NHL experience, Tampa Bay gambles three picks on a jumbo Swedish netminder who many believe has the potential to be a high-end starter. The proverbial jury is still out.

Tomas Vokoun (to Pittsburgh) for seventh-rounder (to Florida)

This is the deal that Detroit should have made. The Pens added an experienced backup at minimal cost when the Panthers decided to cut ties with the pending free agent, and then signed him to a two-year deal.

Ben Bishop (to Ottawa) for second rounder (to St. Louis)

The Blues needed to clear a logjam at the position after the emergence of Brian Elliott. The Sens paid a fairly high price given Bishop's inexperience (13 games). If he moves again, it might take a Varlamov-type payment (see below). But with Craig Anderson still sidelined, odds are he stays in Ottawa though until the summer.

Curtis McIlhenny (to Columbus) for forward Antoine Vermette (to Phoenix)

The Blue Jackets also got a second- and a fifth-rounder along with the backup netminder.

2011

Semyon Varlamov (to Colorado) for first- and second-rounder (to Washington)

It seemed like a risky overpayment at the time, given the chances for the Avs' pick to be in the lottery (it turned out to be winger Filip Forsberg at No. 11) and the fact that the Caps had lost faith in Varlamov. Considering what the Jackets had to give up to get Bobrovsky, it probably was.

Ilya Bryzgalov (to Philadelphia) for winger Matt Clackson and two third-rounders (to Phoenix)

This was a decent value for a pending UFA that the Coyotes had no intention of re-signing.

Anton Khudobin (to Boston) for blueliner Jeff Penner, forward Mikko Lehtonen (to Minnesota)

The Wild were happy to get anything for a free agent who was expected to return to Russia after the season. Truth is, they didn't get much, and the B's landed a solid backup.

Dan Ellis (to Anaheim) for Curtis McIlhenney (to Tampa Bay)

A couple of benchwarmers switched seats.

Craig Anderson (to Ottawa) for Brian Elliott (to Colorado)

See above. Only this one turned out to have a little more upside for Ottawa. Elliott won the Jennings Trophy with Jaroslav Halak in 2012, but struggled this season and took a seat as rookie Jake Allen was given a look.

Al Montoya (to New York Islanders) for sixth-rounder (to Phoenix)

Seldom-used backup acquired for spare change. Montoya played well for stretches on the Island, but was allowed to walk to Winnipeg last summer.

Dwayne Roloson (to Tampa Bay) for defenseman Ty Wishart (New York Islanders)

Wishart was a former first-rounder moving on to his third team -- never a good sign. Roloson was a 40-year-old pending UFA who didn't fit into the Isles' future plans. Worked out pretty well for the Bolts, at least until last season.

2010

Cedrick Desjardins (to Tampa Bay) for Karri Ramo (to Montreal)

A flip of a pair of goaltenders who dwelled deep down the charts.

Henrik Karlsson (to Calgary) for sixth-rounder (to San Jose)

Calgary gambled a late pick that it could develop Karlsson into Miikka Kiprusoff's replacement. He was flipped three years later for a seventh-rounder, so the deal was essentially a wash.

Jaroslav Halak (to St. Louis) for center Lars Eller and winger Ian Schultz (to Montreal)

This only instance of a No. 1 goalie being moved in contract during the last three seasons, and probably the most instructive for the 2013 deadline. Halak returned a solid prospect, though not one of St. Louis' best, and a project. If Ryan Miller is moved, this is the sort of return the Sabres might expect.

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