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Through the Looking Glass to July 1 – Assessing the Market for Goalies

Posted By Corey Krakower On Apr 3 2010 @ 6:13 pm In Around The Rinks | 5 Comments

In the second of three segments previewing the offseason UFA market, this week’s edition will look at the goaltending depth of each team heading into the summer, and what each team’s expected plan of attack will be.

Note that it was assumed that every RFA will re-sign, which obviously won’t be the case; and when identifying top prospects, only those deemed to be close to NHL ready were listed.

Last week’s preview of the D market can be found HERE [1].

Anaheim

Signed: Hiller, McElhinney

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Hiller will be the starter and McElhinney will be the backup.

Atlanta

Signed: N / A

RFAs: Pavelec

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Hedberg

PLAN: The Thrashers will look to have Pavelec split time with a veteran backup that will be acquired via the UFA market.

Boston

Signed: Rask, Thomas

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Rask is the starter, that’s for sure. If the Bruins can get good value in a trade for Thomas, they’ll get a deal done and find a good UFA backup.

Buffalo

Signed: Miller

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Enroth

UFAs: Lalime

PLAN: It is fully expected that Miller will get the majority of the starts, and Enroth will be given every opportunity to make the team.

Calgary

Signed: Kiprusoff

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Irving, Keetley

UFAs: Toskala

PLAN: Kipper is getting a bit older and while he’s still #1, it’s time for them to see if one of Irving or Keetley can step up, earn a spot, and be the eventual replacement.

Carolina

Signed: Ward

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Peters, Murphy

UFAs: Legace

PLAN: Ward is the man in Carolina, and normally it would make sense for the Canes to sign a veteran backup. However, they are in a rebuilding mode so it’s expected that the backup position will go to Peters or Murphy.

Chicago

Signed: Huet

RFAs: Niemi

NHL ready prospects: Crawford

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The playoffs will dictate how Chicago proceeds. The current projection is that Niemi and Huet will split the duties next year, but everyone knows the Hawks would love to get rid of Huet’s bloated contract.

Colorado

Signed: Anderson

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Budaj

PLAN: Colorado’s lack of a quality G prospect will probably lead them to either trade for one in the offseason to backup Anderson, or they will simply find a short term solution by signing a UFA.

Columbus

Signed: Mason, Garon

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Mason will assume the starter role and will hopefully deliver a better season than 2009-10. Garon will be the backup, but will probably see 25-30 games.

Dallas

Signed: N / A

RFAs: Lehtonen

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Turco

PLAN: Lehtonen will be the starter in Dallas, but having not seen much of him, you can be sure that Dallas will fill the #2 spot with a solid UFA or perhaps even by a trade.

Detroit

Signed: Howard, Osgood

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Larsson, McCollum

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Howard has officially taken over the #1 job in Detroit. Osgood will be the backup, but the thing to watch will be the battle in Grand Rapids between Larsson and McCollum, which will be the unofficial audition for Howard’s future backup.

Edmonton

Signed: Khabibulin

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Drouin-Deslauriers, Dubnyk

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Two assumptions; 1 – JDD and Dubnyk will battle for the backup job, 2 – Khabibulin will get injured at some point and both JDD and Dubnyk will spend some time in the NHL.

Florida

Signed: Vokoun, Clemmensen

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Markstrom, Salak

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: It’s widely believed that the best goalie not in the NHL is Markstrom. Florida will attempt to trade Vokoun in the offseason and see if Markstrom, or even Salak, can step in and share the starter’s role in Florida.

Los Angeles

Signed: Quick, Ersberg

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Bernier

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: Quick is #1 in LA, and although Ersberg is signed, it’s highly likely he will either be traded or bought out to make room for Bernier.

Minnesota

Signed: Backstrom

RFAs: Harding

NHL ready prospects: Khudobin, Hackett

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The current plan is to have Backstrom be the starter, Harding the backup and for Hackett and Khudobin to split time in the AHL. It is, however, not out of the realm of possibility that Harding is traded and one of those 2 becomes the backup.

Montreal

Signed: N / A

RFAs: Price, Halak

NHL ready prospects: Desjardins

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The infamous goalie controversy. Please just assume that both re-sign and split duties again! Obviously, if one is traded, there are plenty of UFA veteran backups available, or they could promote Desjardins from Hamilton.

Nashville

Signed: Rinne

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Pickard, Dekanich

UFAs: Ellis

PLAN: Given Nashville’s history of promoting from within, if they can’t re-sign Ellis the backup position will be filled by the winner of the training camp battle between Mark Dekanich and Chet Pickard.

New Jersey

Signed: Brodeur

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Danis

PLAN: At some point, the Devils will have to identify their replacement for Brodeur. They can address that either at the draft or by trade. For now, they’ll keep relying on short-term free agent solutions for the backup goalie.

New York Islanders

Signed: DiPietro, Roloson

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Biron

PLAN: The Isles have 2 good goalies signed for next year, which on paper is a positive. No one ever knows with DiPietro though. Thankfully, they only have him signed through 2021.

New York Rangers

Signed: Lundqvist

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Auld

PLAN: Lundqvist is the real deal, but every year they talk about the Rangers needing a good backup goalie to support him. There will be no shortage of capable and affordable options on the free agent market.

Ottawa

Signed: Elliott, Leclaire

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The Sens have 2 capable goalies, which is good considering a long history of futility in goal. Leclaire is signed for $3.8 million and will be a UFA in 2011, so a trade is not totally out of the question.

Philadelphia

Signed: Boucher

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Emery, Leighton

PLAN: The Flyers will be active this summer when it comes to goalies. Even though Boucher is signed, if the Flyers can sign a good UFA to a 2-3 year deal, and then trade for a younger goalie, Boucher could be out too.

Phoenix

Signed: Bryzgalov, LaBarbera

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The Coyotes are very happy with their tandem of Bryzgalov and LaBarbera.

Pittsburgh

Signed: Fleury

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: Johnson

PLAN: Fleury is signed long term, so it is expected that at least for the next few years they will be looking for affordable backups that have experience.

San Jose

Signed: Greiss

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Stalock

UFAs: Nabokov

PLAN: Greiss is a good #2, but they will need to acquire an elite starter either by free agency or by trade if Nabokov and the Sharks part ways. Stalock is a solid prospect but a Greiss-Stalock tandem is too risky for a team as good as the Sharks.

St. Louis

Signed: Conklin

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Bishop, Allen

UFAs: C. Mason

PLAN: The Blues will bring in a UFA to be #1 if Mason does not re-sign, with Conklin backing him up. There is talk that St. Louis is shopping for a young goalie because Allen and Bishop have not performed as expected this year.

Tampa Bay

Signed: Smith

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Tokarski, Janus

UFAs: Niittymaki

PLAN: The Lightning will likely try and get rid of Mike Smith, but for now he’s there starting goaltender. One of Tokarski or Janus will make the jump to the NHL next year as a backup playing 25-35 games.

Toronto

Signed: Giguere

RFAs: Gustavsson

NHL ready prospects: N / A

UFAs: N / A

PLAN: The Leafs are set in goal, provided that they can get The Monster signed to an extension. They have the perfect compliment of a young goaltender and one who is a proven veteran with a lot of experience.

Vancouver

Signed: Luongo

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Schneider

UFAs: Raycroft

PLAN: Bobby Lu is the franchise goaltender, which is why even though Cory Schneider is a blue chip prospect; it looks like his future will be with another franchise. However, in order to drive up his value, it’s possible Schneider starts the year as Luongo’s backup.

Washington

Signed: Varlamov

RFAs: N / A

NHL ready prospects: Neuvirth, Holtby

UFAs: Theodore

PLAN: The Caps have a promising group of young goaltenders and will ultimately let Jose Theodore walk and hand the reigns over the Varlamov and Neuvirth. Obviously, postseason success or failure could completely alter the franchise’s plans.

STATISTICAL CONCLUSIONS

Total G in the NHL: 60 (30 teams * 2 G per team)

Goalies under contract: 36

Restricted Free Agents: 7

Prospects expected to play in the NHL: 8

Projected spots available: 9

Total UFAs: 18

TOP AVAILABLE UFAs

1 – C. Mason

2 – Ellis

3 – Nabokov

4 – Turco

Outside of the top 4, the rest of the goalies fall into categories such as career backups, not even close to what they used to be, probably retiring and likely headed to Europe. With many goalies believed to be available on the trade market, it’s going to be very tough for most of the 18 free agent goaltenders to find work in the NHL.

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