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The NHL goaltender market got unstuck Saturday, the annual game of musical chairs producing seven trades in a 48-hour period, with the two most-watched teams at the entry draft, the Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres, both landing the netminders they hope will move them up the standings next season.

This is how NHL general managers are ultimately defined. It doesn't take much to go to the microphone and call out the names of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the first and second players chosen in the 2015 NHL entry draft. Generational players that can turn your franchise around are easy to identify. The harder task is filling in the gaps around them, so they're in the right environment to succeed.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli went into the weekend with a shopping list that included both help on the blueline and between the pipes. Ultimately, he landed Cam Talbot as his next goalie, surrendering second- and third-round draft choices, plus a swap of seventh-round picks, to acquire his rights from the New York Rangers. Chiarelli was in there swinging on Robin Lehner, too, but Lehner ended up going to the Sabres on Friday, a high-risk, high-reward talent that Buffalo hopes can do for it what Ben Bishop did for Tampa – stabilize a young team as it moves through its formative years.

Other goalies moving on include Martin Jones (to Boston from Los Angeles); Eddie Lack (to Carolina from Vancouver); Anton Khudobin (to Anaheim from Carolina); Antti Niemi (to Dallas from San Jose); and Antti Raanta (to New York from Chicago). Additionally, the Minnesota Wild took Devan Dubnyk off the market in signing him to a six-year, $26-million (U.S.) contract extension.

Only the Sharks were left looking for a bona fide No. 1 goalie. The Sabres were still in the market for a backup, with Michal Neuvirth and Karri Ramo possible candidates. Both players hit the open market July 1.

Niemi has previously won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks; the plan in Dallas is for him to platoon with fellow Finn Kari Lehtonen, in the hopes that both players benefit from a reduced workload.

The other goalies are unproven commodities, stuck behind a defined starter, looking for an opportunity to become a true No. 1. As such, the prices they commanded were comparatively low.

"It's such an inexact science for these goalies," Chiarelli said.

Everybody hopes their new guy can blossom the way Bishop did in Tampa or Sergei Bobrovsky did in Columbus, where he won the Vézina Trophy after joining the Blue Jackets from the Philadelphia Flyers. But there is a long list of goalies who, when given the opportunity to seize the No. 1 job couldn't, including Talbot's new partner in Edmonton, Ben Scrivens, or the former backup in Nashville, Anders Lindback, whose poor play in Dallas obliged the team to go after a more reliable option in Niemi.

Privately, most GMs say the era in which a goalie has to flat-out steal a game has long passed in the NHL. The Blackhawks have won twice with the solid, if unspectacular, Corey Crawford. Nowadays, most teams that don't have a Carey Price or a Jonathan Quick will settle for a goalie who'll make the saves he's supposed to make and minimize momentum-killing goals that can gut a team psychologically in this low-scoring era.

Talbot's ability to fill in so well for injured starter Henrik Lundqvist for an extended stretch this past season gave the Oilers hope that he hasn't reached his ceiling. It would have been a far surer bet had Chiarelli also been able to pry defencemen Marc Staal and Ryan McDonough out of the Rangers, but failing that, he settled for Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba as defensive additions, Gryba a physical third-pair presence, Reinhart a prospect chosen fourth overall a couple of years ago who still has some developing to do.

League-wide, Anaheim's acquisition of Khudobin – in exchange for defenceman James Wisniewski – left the Ducks with a glut in goal, though GM Bob Murray was adamant that he was not about to pursue a trade for either of his young up-and-comers, John Gibson or Frederik Andersen. That'll likely happen a year from now, after they get a truer read on Gibson's upside.

For a team that made it to the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the Ducks were inordinately active, moving out both Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem, after breaking off contract talks with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Matt Beleskey. The Ducks landed speedster Carl Hagelin from the Rangers in the Etem trade, yet one more player who becomes a candidate to play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the top line.

Some of the bigger trading dominoes – Chicago's Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell, the Leafs' Phil Kessel – are still out there. Teams can afford to be patient with salary dumps, since they don't need to get cap compliant until the start of the regular season in October. Sometimes, a player of Sharp's pedigree becomes more interesting to a team once the first few days of free agency pass and somebody unexpectedly gets shut out in the bidding.

On some level, every team (with the possible exception of the Boston Bruins) emerged from the weekend better, adding new organizational assets they didn't have before. But the sober reality is there's a vast difference between adding a warm body or two, and a transformational talent. It is why, for all the shuffling and jiving and shuffling that went on, the real winners are easy to call: Edmonton and Buffalo, who landed McDavid and Eichel, respectively. Those teams have a real opportunity here. They better not mess it up.