For lack of a better way to describe it, the 202 NHL goalie free agent market is wild right now. As more and more names get added to the pool of available netminders teams can choose from on Friday, what’s taking place is a flooding of the market and some goalies are going to find it hard to a) land a job for the kind of money they’ll be seeking b) land a job at all.
In an attempt to take a wide angle view of what’s about to happen over the next few days at this particular position, let’s look at all the names out there now:
Anderson’s days in Ottawa are done as the team moves towards youth and building their future with their prospects. He had a good run and the Senators said of his time there, “He’s the best goalie we’ve ever had. It’s time for us to take another direction and we thank him for everything he did.”
But, how easy will it be for Anderson to find more work as the market adds more and more names? With every new goalie that seems to hit the market, Anderson’s chances of landing a job decrease.
The Chicago Blackhawks officially said goodbye to Corey Crawford on Friday, saying that the netminder will be headed to free agency after the two sides were no longer talking an extension.
A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Crawford is one of the more decorated goalies to be in the free agent market and that will help his chances of getting a good deal. But, will it be for the near $5 million or more he was potentially seeking from the Blackhawks? There are only a couple of teams that could afford that and they’ll have to decide Crawford is better than some of the other high-priced options out there.
Adding Fleury to this list requires acknowledging that he very-well might not shake loose and become a free agent. The Vegas Golden Knights are feverishly trying to pawn off his contract to another team after the signed Robin Lehner to a five-year contract extension. That’s not easy to do considering his $7 million salary.
Right now, the Knights are willing to add a sweetener to the deal in the form of the second-round pick to retain salary but teams are asking for way more. A buy out would have to be done by today if Vegas goes that route but a trade will be the priority.
Will a team bite on Fleury’s deal? Can someone be convinced to take his salary for two more seasons and add a high-end player or pick to do so? Or, will the Golden Knight have to buy out his contract to avoid trading other pieces?
Greiss’ situation is interesting because has done his best work while in a tandem. As names leave organizations, those teams may look to Greiss to fill the vacancy. He shouldn’t cost a lot so he’ll be an option for teams who need netminding without much cap room to spare and he’s capable of being a starter if needed, should a team not be completely sold the option they have is currently the best one.
Interesting stat: Thomas Greiss is the all-time leader with a .771 Sv% in shootouts.
One of the most experienced goaltenders available in this year’s market, Holtby’s story might be an interesting one to follow. He was told to go test the market by the Washington Capitals who were sticking with Ilya Samsonov and Holtby is looking to land in a destination where he can play more games than back them up.
Is he option A for a number of teams? Probably not. Could be option B? Sure. The question will be cost. He’s either going to look like a total bargain or be one of those goalies who holds out for the right team to strike out on others and come to him with a decent offer.
Jimmy Howard wants to play another season in the NHL but it’s hard to know if he’ll get that chance. Like some of the other veterans on this list, Howard starts to look less and less attractive as an option knowing there are too many good goalies for the spots available.
“Someone is going to have to tell me I can’t play anymore,” Howard noted at the end of this past season. He posted career lows with a 4.20 GAA and a .882 save percentage in 27 appearances with the Red Wings so that may happen.
The chances Khudobin stays in Dallas is pretty good. The Stars certainly want to keep him after the way he played in the postseason run that took the team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. But, he might want to test the market just to see what’s out there before committing.
The question surrounding Khudobin will be whether the Stars are willing to risk him getting a better offer or not.
Joonas Korpisalo and/or Elvis Merzlikins
The Columbus Blue Jackets may get some calls on one of Korpisalo or Merzlikins this offseason. Both are young goalies but it’s not likely the Blue Jackets look to keep both. Merzlikins is the more expensive option of the two at $4 million for two more seasons.
If the Blue Jackets move one, they’ll likely be in the market for a short-term, veteran back-up. There should be plenty around and this move would be about swapping goaltenders and picking up an asset in the process.
Koskinen is rumored to be on the block since buzz is the Oilers might be going after a bigger fish in the goaltending market, it likely doesn’t happen unless the team has a place to send current starter Mikko Koskinen. He’s got time and money left on his contract and Edmonton can’t afford to carry a lot in between the pipes.
He’s likely not going anywhere but there’s been talk the Oilers might have asked him for his 15-team trade list just to see if there’s interest in the market.
The talk on Darcy Kuemper being shipped out of Arizona has cooled considerably since rumors first surfaced the Coyotes were looking to shed salary and were keen to see what the goaltender could fetch in return. They were asking for a first-round pick and more that didn’t seem realistic considering the marketplace.
He’s likely staying put, but if a team doesn’t land their guy in free agency, perhaps trade talks pick up again.
Lundqvist was bought out by the New York Rangers and after he hinted he wanted to keep playing, his name was connected to the Washington Capitals. That’s likely what will happen. Not much else to really add there.
The Vancouver Canucks are still working on getting Jacob Markstrom signed but the Canucks are also rumored to be in on a very big deal involving a certain defenseman out of Arizona. Money is tight and the Canucks have Thatcher Demko to run with, easily adding a 1B if needed from the market. The smarter long-term play might be to actually let him leave if the ask is too high and replace him with a less expensive option.
If Markstrom makes it to free agency, there will be teams that show interest. How quickly they come running with a $5-$6 million offer is the real question.
The New Jersey Devils bought out Corey Scheider on Thursday and the struggling goalie might be the goalied hardest pressed to find work this offseason. At one time, he was a legit NHL starter, now it’s not clear if he’s even an NHL regular.
The Boston Bruins have reportedly asked Tuukka Rask for his trade list, but as of October 9, his modified NTC does not carry into next season. He will in fact have no trade restrictions and for a team with tight salary cap issues, the Bruins may be enticed to move the final year of this talented but expensive goalie.
Remember, Rask is as likely to retire as he might be report to another team, so anyone acquiring him is taking a risk.
The Edmonton Oilers have talked to Smith’s agent and said they’ve not ruled him out as an option but they’re going to look at the market first. If they strike out, they’ll circle back and see about extending the veteran who served as a pretty good 1B to Mikko Koskinen last season.
Should Smith not get a deal done with the Oilers, he may be a goalie who has to wait a bit before signing a deal. That is, unless he’s willing to sign for close to league minimum.
Like Smith, Talbot has likely been told by the Calgary Flames they are not ruling him out, but he is going to test the market as is the team. Talbot has not proven to be a consistent starter in the NHL so any team that comes calling is going to want to have him work in tandem with someone already there.
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