Less than one month from today, the free agent frenzy will commence; it will be here before we know it! Where will Roberto Luongo land? What will Tampa Bay do in net? Here’s a quick look at the goaltending market for the summer…
Teams looking for a starter:
Columbus, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Teams looking for a backup:
Boston, Edmonton (1B), Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg
Unrestricted free agents to watch:
- Tomas Vokoun, WSH… Vokoun had a dismal season with the Capitals, which triggered rumors that he could go to the KHL to finish his career. Those rumors were squashed by Vokoun, soon to be 36, and agent Allan Walsh. Vokoun didn’t do anything this season (2.51 GAA, .917 SV%, groin injury) that would improve his free agent stock, but he could be a good fit in a 1B-like role for a contender.
- Josh Harding, MIN… For teams not looking for an aging veteran like Vokoun (or Dwayne Roloson, for that matter), Harding could be someone worth taking a flier on. When healthy, Harding has proved that he is worthy of playing regularly. Health is the problem for Harding, however, as his career-high of 34 games was just reached in his sixth NHL season.
Others to keep an eye on:
- Roberto Luongo, VAN… Ever since Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault went with Cory Schneider in Game 3 against Los Angeles, there has been constant speculation that the torch has been passed and Luongo will be traded. Luongo would have more suitors if his contract wasn’t an albatross.
Despite the contract situation, Luongo is the top goaltender to be had this summer. He would have to waive his no-trade clause to leave Vancouver, something he would logically want to do if Schneider is indeed The Man starting next season. He still has some good years left in him and could help teams like Tampa Bay or Toronto get back into the playoffs. Miikka Kiprusoff is another veteran to watch in the trade market.
- Jonathan Bernier and Anders Lindback… Some teams don’t want anything to do with a veteran goaltender and would rather acquire a young netminder with a higher ceiling and a brighter future. In comes Los Angeles’ Bernier and Nashville’s Lindback, who each served as backup to Vezina Trophy finalists Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne this season. Both have solid trade value.
Teams to watch:
- Tampa Bay Lightning… GM Steve Yzerman is on the record saying that he would rather grab a young goaltender over a veteran like Luongo or anyone else. Whatever they do in goal, improvements need to be made. Tampa Bay finished dead-last in goals allowed as Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon failed to hold the fort very well.
- Columbus Blue Jackets… Columbus entered the 2011-12 as a hopeful playoff contender with one big flaw – goaltending – and it failed them mightily. Steve Mason has a composite 3.14 GAA over the last three years and is not suited to be an NHL starter. The Blue Jackets also don’t any NHL-ready prospects coming through the pipeline. GM Scott Howson has a lot of options this summer.
- New Jersey Devils… 40-year-old Martin Brodeur says he will not retire this off-season, no matter what happens in the ongoing Stanley Cup Final. Brodeur’s time is running out, though, and there are a bevy of young goaltenders available this summer that the Devils could capitalize on acquiring to be Brodeur’s heir apparent.
Photo credit: Getty Images