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Kevin Lankinen Could Be In Demand As Trade Deadline Approaches



Kevin Lankinen
Photo of Kevin Lankinen by John Russell/Nashville Predators

“I’ve got my own motivation and my own desire to get better and perform and take some steps in my career.”

Without directly saying as much, Nashville Predators goaltender Kevin Lankinen all but admitted after a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks back in November that it was still his goal was to be a starter in the NHL again.

And he’s taken some solid steps to get there.

In the season-and-a-half Lankinen has been with the Predators, his numbers have drastically improved from the two seasons he spent with the Chicago Blackhawks. Lankinen’s save percentage is nearly 10 points higher (.900 to .909), his 5-on-5 save percentage has also increased (.909 to .917), as has his quality-start percentage (.470 to .556), and he’s allowing nearly half a goal less per game (2.89 to 3.23).

Lankinen has performed admirably in his nine starts this season, posting a 6-3-0 record with a 3.12 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. In his last two starts, Lankinen has two wins over the Dallas Stars, and he’s the only goaltender in the NHL with have multiple regulation wins over Dallas this year.

“He’s definitely not a backup goalie, let’s put it that way,” forward Filip Forsberg said earlier this month. “We just happen to have another guy that’s pretty good [playing in front of him].”

And it’s not just those in Nashville who have noticed how well the 28-year-old Finn has performed lately.

Sources have told Nashville Hockey Now that Lankinen has been generating more buzz on the trade market over the last few weeks, indicating that he could have more than a few suitors with the March 8 trade deadline approaching.

Lankinen will hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the year, which could incentivize Predators GM Barry Trotz to get something in return for him rather than lose him for nothing. Yaroslav Askarov’s emergence in the AHL this season (12-6-1, 2.01 GAA, .926 save percentage) also makes Lankinen expendable.

Given his $2 million cap hit, Lankinen is also the most affordable option currently on the trade market, and a much easier acquisition for a cash-strapped team like the Edmonton Oilers ($420,000 in cap space), Carolina Hurricanes ($2.92M in cap space), New Jersey Devils ($200,000 in cap space) or New York Islanders ($2.63M in cap space) to take on.

Swinging a deal for any of the other goaltenders who are reportedly available — Anaheim’s John Gibson ($6.4M), Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka ($2.725M), Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom ($6M), Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins ($5.4M), Montreal’s Jake Allen ($3.85M) and San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen ($2.75M) — could prove to be much more difficult.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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