According to the French sports website, L’Equipe, Cristobal Huet has had discussions with the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings for a possible return to the NHL. The French netminder hasn’t played in North America since May 2010 when he made his final appearance for the Chicago Blackhawks. Back in July, Huet expressed a desire to come back to the NHL but did not mention any specific teams that were interested in him. The two teams he told L’Equipe about are not surprising at all and make the most sense, as the Canucks and Kings may have vacancies by the time camp rolls around.
As anyone with a computer knows by now, the Canucks are shopping Roberto Luongo, as there is a mutual interest to “move on” after Mike Gillis and the Nucks put their faith in Cory Schneider. If the Canucks can work out a deal to move Luongo and his giant contract, bringing in Huet for a bargain would give the Canucks some cap relief as well as a more stable environment in the dressing room. The Canucks could be a good fit for Huet, as he has a good relationship with Vancouver goaltending coach Rollie Melanson.
The Kings are another team looking to deal a goalie after they locked up Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick to a long-term pact. Jonathan Bernier has been a highly touted goaltending prospect since the Kings drafted him 11th overall in 2006. With their #1 job solidified by one of the league’s best, the Kings simply won’t have the starts Bernier is looking for and now possess a valuable trade chip. While Bernier is not costing the Kings much now, he is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in July of 2013 and surely there are teams that believe he could be a long-term solution for their starting job.
There is pretty good chance that Huet will definitely end up with one of these two teams but the question will be “when?” The Canucks don’t won’t an albatross contract and the distraction of a disgruntled Luongo as their backup goalie and the Kings have a goaltending luxury that they want to capitalize on. However, with the CBA situation in doubt, player movement has been slow in the summer of 2012 as GMs want to play it safe just in case drastic changes occur regarding contracts and the salary cap.
It’s looking more and more likely that Cristobal Huet will get his wish to return to the NHL, but he will definitely have to be patient as this slow summer drags on.