Garth Snow bluntly stated he is going to revamp his goaltending, as he has no goalies under contract for next season (aside from himself). He promises the best goaltending he can get his hands on. Evgeni Nabokov is staring at an open door to the end of his tenure as an Islander, quite possibly the end of a career. Anders Nilsson has decided to kick his own exit door open with his comments about not wanting to play in Bridgeport. Kevin Poulin is hoping someone remembers he did well enough in Bridgeport to e qualified for 2014-15. Poor Kevin.
Already, a few teams have made moves that have shaped the market for stoppers.
The Edmonton Oilers pulled every lever and trigger they could before the deadline to shore up their non-existent netminding (Editor’s Note: Still not going to help.) Colorado went into the Negative Zone to find their JSG replacement behind Varlamov.
Montreal’s biggest goaltending asset may not even be Carey Price. When your #1 only plays home games down the stretch your backup better be worth his weight in gold. Peter Budaj is not available. Their acquisition of Devan Dubnyk strengthened Hamilton, not Montreal. That’s a hell of a drop.
The list of candidates to backup Jaroslav Halak, both legitimate and imaginary, is unique.
1. James Reimer has already been traded. Starting with the City of Toronto, Leafs fans, every last Toronto sports media outlet, his HOA, and possibly his parents. Brendan Shanahan is eerily quiet, because he has yet to do actually start job. Reimer is a number 1/1A goalie who will not be looked at as a true backup anywhere he goes. Highly doubtful he’ll stay in the East.
2. Dan Ellis – Once thought to be the Franchise for Nashville, he has fallen to Mercenary Backup rather quickly but comfortably. Since Anaheim, he’s sported a roughly league average save percentage with limited work. A personal revival has led him to a position where he can be a capable safety net and level, veteran voice.
3. Ondrej Pavelec – The possibly-soon-to-be-ex Winnipeg Jets goalie has been in steady decline since the Thrashers’ relocation up north. Sinking further and further south in almost all possible statistical categories, his best attribute is Liability To All. Avoid.
4. Walk away right now if you thought the name Tim Thomas.
5. Cam Ward – Stanley Cup winner, World Champion, owner of the second-worst lower body a goalie could ever have. His time is over in Carolina thanks to the emergence of Anton Khudobin, but his trade value could be reasonably high. He’s a consummate professional who can teach when not playing. Worth a flyer if healthy.
6. Ray Emery – Probably has his Forever Home in Philadelphia.
7. Michal Neuvrirth – Wants #1 work and compensation, doubt he can pull it off.
8. Ilya Bryzgalov – No idea whatsoever. Bounced back after the Philly buyout, still crazy but a better teammate this season. The red flags raise themselves.
9. Brian Elliott – Huh, this guy. Halak’s former battery mate in St. Louis, they were named co-recipients of the 2011-12 Jennings Trophy, for lowest goals against. Can come off the bench in normal backup role, but can also take the reins if necessary. Prior to the Miller/Halak deal, Elliott/Halak had the Blues atop the West, vying for control of the Central. St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong has already claimed top prospect Jake Allen will be with the Blues next season. If he can retain Ryan Miller, that will be his tandem going forward.
10. Jonas Gustavsson – The “Monster” was the hidden gem Brian Burke thought he uncovered in Sweden. What he found was a slightly, weird, average goalie who wasn’t built for the Toronto microscope. If you want a bronze medal at World Championships, he’s your guy. Gustavsson’s not a starter, so Detroit decided to not make him one. As backup to Jimmy Howard he’s been, fine. Barely toeing the league average in most categories, Gustavsson is going to give up three goals no matter what’s happening in front of him. Stellar in stints with the Marlies and Griffins. Not the best way for a team to live but certainly not the worst.
11. Garth Snow – J
The best candidate is Brian Elliott. He’ll be cheap (coming off a $1.8M AAV contract) and maybe he can rekindle that St. Louis magic with Halak (if he signs). Back up pick, Dan Ellis. Quiet competence and good ROI. If all else fails, Gustavsson.