It's the best time of year!
Exactly one month from today, the free agent frenzy will commence; it will be here before we know it! Where will Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov land? What will Philadelphia do? Here’s a quick look at the goaltending market for the summer…
Teams looking for a starter:
Colorado, Florida, Philadelphia (1A), Phoenix, Tampa Bay
Teams looking for a backup:
Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Unrestricted free agents to watch:
- Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX… ‘Bryz’ is one of two premier free agents (along with Vokoun) available this summer. Ever since Vezina Trophy caliber 2009/10 regular season, he has struggled (2.66 GAA, .917 SV%). That said, at age 31, Bryzgalov will still be a sought after free agent and will land a starting gig – whether it’s in the desert or not.
- Dwayne Roloson, TB… The 41-year-old did not show his age in the playoffs, coming up clutch for the Bolts and posting a .924 save percentage. Roloson, a mid-season pickup by Tampa Bay, lived up to expectations and helped lead the team to the conference final. He may not be able to be a full-time starter, but can succeed in a platoon role.
- Tomas Vokoun, FLA… In 12 NHL seasons, Vokoun has only been a part of three playoff teams (all with Nashville). His average 2.57 GAA with Florida was affected by not having playoff-caliber teams in front of him. There’s a lot of speculation that Vokoun, soon to be 35, will not return to the Panthers next season. Would he go to a playoff contender for a shot at the Cup?
Others to keep an eye on:
- Cory Schneider, VAN… Schneider, 25, isn’t going to be Vancouver’s backup forever. He is good enough to be a starter elsewhere, while Roberto Luongo is locked up for the next decade. Schneider also has one year left on his deal. What kind of return would the Canucks gets IF they don’t make Schneider an ‘untouchable’ and another team comes calling?
- Semyon Varlamov, WSH… In 62 games this season, youngsters Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby combined for 37 wins, a 2.31 GAA and six shutouts. Varlamov, a first-rounder in 2006, is a restricted free agent and has been inconsistent. Is it a lock that Varlamov is retained by the Caps?
Teams to watch:
- Colorado, Phoenix and Tampa Bay… These three teams are the only ones to have their starter and backup be unrestricted free agents. Joe Sacco’s Avs possessed the league’s worst GAA – by a landslide; Phoenix has had reliable netminding in the last couple years; the up-and-coming Lightning don’t have a franchise goaltender. What will they do this off-season to bring in new starter(s)?
- New Jersey… Is this the summer the Devils try to find Martin Brodeur’s heir apparent? The future Hall of Famer is 39, wearing down and may not have much left in the tank. Johan Hedberg is a free agent, so Brodeur needs a durable backup anyway. Will GM Lou Lamoriello grab a younger goalie that can be a future starter?
- Philadelphia… The Flyers’ trio was lit up by the Sabres and Bruins in the playoffs, causing there to be more question marks between the pipes than they had prior to the season. Sergei Bobrovsky is a talented, young goalie, but may need a veteran to be a short-term mentor. Always residing up against the cap, can GM Paul Holmgren upgrade his goaltending this summer?
Photo credit: Getty Images
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