Free agency this year has been a buyer's market with regard to goaltenders. Martin Biron took a 60% pay cut, while Manny Fernandez is still looking for work. If Biron's agent miscalculated the market for his client this year, what do things look like next year, when Biron is once again unrestricted?
Sorted by save percentage, here's your Class of 2010. (* Stats aggregated from the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.)
|The Free Agent Class of 2010 - Goaltenders (UFAs)|
|Player Name||Age (2010)||Team||Cap Hit||GAA*||SV%*|
Some of these players obviously won't be re-signing NHL contracts. Patrick Lalime and Johan Hedberg are both over 35 with their best years behind them, so retirement looks likely. Others (Leighton, Sabourin, etc.) have been kicking around for a few years without finding stable work as a backup, and have been short-term, low-cost options for teams looking to fill a roster spot, so we probably won't see any bidding wars in 2010 for their services.
Prominent veterans also have their place on the list, and while some will likely re-sign with their current teams before the season ends (it would be difficult to picture Evgeni Nabokov anywhere other than San Jose, or Marty Turco anywhere other than Dallas), there are no guarantees.
The real question however, is whether there are enough vacancies to go around. Fortunately for Biron, it looks like he can probably sleep soundly knowing he can find work again next year. If not, there's always the KHL.
By my calculations, there are only 6 teams entirely set for the 2010-11 season: Columbus (Mason, Garon); Florida (Vokoun, Clemmensen); Montreal (Price, Halak); New York Islanders (Roloson, DiPietro); Ottawa (Leclaire, Elliott); Phoenix (Bryzgalov, Labarbera). All of the others have question marks, either because of aging veterans or because of inexperienced youngsters, or simply because they won't have anyone under contract.
Possibly looking for a starter?
Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver
Dallas, Nashville, San Jose and Vancouver are easy to reason - they've all got starters that will be UFAs. If Ray Emery is able to beat out Brian Boucher for the starter's role in 2009-10, the Flyers could be in the same situation.
Detroit is looking at a 37 year-old Chris Osgood that struggled mightily as a 35 year-old (3.09 GAA, 0.887 SV%). Behind him they'll have Jimmy Howard, who's never seemed to be ready to make the jump to the NHL.
Los Angeles and St. Louis both have players under contract, but none that could be considered marquee players at this point. The Kings have Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick, with Jonathan Bernier waiting in the wings. Solid, but unspectacular. St. Louis will be relying on Ty Conklin to mind the nets, but he's hardly a sure thing - at 33, he's clocked only 149 NHL games up to this point and has never been a full-time starter.
Toronto will also be relying on an unproven netminder in Jonas Gustavsson. If things work out the way Brian Burke hopes, then Gustavsson will be a No. 1 goalie in this league. If not, Burke has the option to look elsewhere.
Uncertain backup situations
Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
A number of these teams may be counting on their younger players to step up. What happens if Jonas Hiller leaves Anaheim? Assuming J-S Giguere returns to form, who plays the supporting role - J-P Levasseur? Timo Pielmeier? In Carolina - Mike Murphy, Justin Peters? What happens in Minnesota with Josh Harding?
Finland has produced a number of top notch netminders recently. Can Rask (Boston), Niemi (Chicago), Helenius (Tampa Bay) continue the trend?
Will the Capitals want a veteran presence for Varlamov and/or Neuvirth?
A lot of questions. We could be looking at some musical chairs come Canada Day 2010.
Create your own scenarios
Download the Excel sheet here: Free Agent Class of 2010 - Goaltenders.
Who would you spend your money on in 2010?
Jonas Hiller (23 votes)
Roberto Luongo (35 votes)
Pekka Rinne (17 votes)
Evgeni Nabokov (3 votes)
Marty Turco (2 votes)
Martin Biron (3 votes)
Other (1 vote)
84 total votes