TOP NHL GOALIE FREE AGENTS
There is no real baseball being played right now, despite what Bud Selig wants us to think. There is no action in the NBA or NFL with both locked out and barred from their sport. The only real sport still rolling is the NHL. With the free agency period a little more than a week and a half old, the top players of the class have been signed to the big contracts, the accompanying pieces have been signed, and we have a general sense of what every NHL team’s line ups come this fall. It’s time to take a look at where the top players signed and what more to expect this NHL offseason. To see who the top goalies are and where they went, continue after the jump.
Let’s take a look at the top ten free agents at the goalie position, and who they’ve signed new contracts with this offseason. Green font indicates a player who has not yet been signed.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov
Phoenix Coyotes -> Philadelphia Flyers (9 years, $51 mil)
Bryzgalov was expected to get a big contract this offseason, and the Flyers did everything they could to make sure it was with them. Bryzgalov will finally give Philadelphia a strong, stable goaltender for the first time in year. One question will be how he performs in the postseason, as his appearences with Phoenix haven’t been as stellar as his regular season play.
2. Tomas Vokoun
Florida Panthers -> Washington Capitals (1 year, $1.5 mil)
Vokoun signed a somewhat surprising short and cheap contract for a chance to be the #1 goalie for a loaded team. Vokoun is quick and big, and will fill up plenty of net for the Capitals. Vokoun is a proven veteran, unlike what Washington has tried in the past few years. This signing could be the key to a Capitals Stanly Cup victory.
3. Dwayne Roloson
Tampa Bay Lightning -> Tampa Bay Lightning (1 year, $3 mil)
Roloson almost seemed like a new, younger man when he was traded to Tampa last winter. After taking control of the starter position, Roloson almost carried the Lightning all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Although he is old, the key is to split time in the regular season to keep Roly the Goalie fresh for the postseason.
4. Jean Sebastien Giguiere
Toronto Maple Leafs -> Colorado Avalanche (2 years, .5 mil)
Giguiere has struggled to regain a starting job since being the backbone of many Anaheim teams in the past. Now he will go to Colorado to be a back up to Symeon Varlamov. Giguiere is a classic butterfly goalie who needs to stay smart and on his angles to excel. Splitting time with the young Varlamov could be just what Giguiere needs.
5. Jose Theodore
Minnesota Wild -> Florida Panthers (2 years, mil)
Nobody wanted Theodore last summer, and he had to wait until a Josh Harding injury before the season began to get a job with the Wild. Theodore showed flashes of his Vezina winning form all year, and still has the skills and dexterity to stop almost anything. Theodore got the opportunity to be a starter in Florida, and here’s hoping things go well for a very good guy.
6. Mike Smith
Tampa Bay Lightning -> Phoenix Coyotes (2 years, mil)
Smith was thought to be the future in Tampa, but struggled and lost his position quickly once Roloson came aboard. Smith will go to a Phoenix team who has a huge hole in net, and get to be a starter again most likely. If he keeps his head in the game, he can play with the best of them. But Smith has had a habit of losing focus and concentration, and then struggles because of it.
7. Pascal Leclaire
Ottawa Senators -> UNSIGNED
Leclaire couldn’t find a consistent game last year in Ottawa. Injuries and poor play slid him into the backup’s role early, and the Senators decided to go in a different direction in net this offseason. That leaves Leclaire without a job now. He is tall and lanky, and can still have a long NHL career in the right situation.
8. Josh Harding
Minnesota Wild -> Minnesota Wild (1 year, 0 k)
Harding played all of a few minutes in the preseason last year before blowing out a knee and missing the entire season. After rehabbing and skating towards the end of last season, Harding looks ready to return to his old form this year. Harding is young and skilled, but still must prove he deserves to stay in the NHL. This could be his last shot in Minnesota.
9. Marty Turco
Chicago Blackhawks -> UNSIGNED
Turco became an observer last year with the emergence of Corey Crawford as the top netminder in Chicago. After being a Blackhawk for one year, Turco finds himself without a job now. Turco has shown he can win, and is one of the toughest playoff goalies out there. If he wants a job in the NHL, expect a pay cut and a backup role somewhere for Turco.
10. Peter Budaj
Colorado Avalanche -> Montreal Canadiens (2 years, $2.3 mil)
Budaj was under a barrage of shots the last few years in Colorado, and his overall stats were a little deflated because of it. Budaj is young and smart in net, and positionally sound. He gives the Canadiens a quality backup when Carey Price needs a breather.
Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms. He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long. Look for new articles throughout the week. He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy. If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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