With Carey Price’s inevitable contract extension coming around the first of July, there are many goalies that will require immediate contracts come July first.
Below I will list goalie circumstances that have the potential to change, or be disrupted by the Vegas Expansion Draft coming this month, as well as being UFA’s and requiring contracts.
Ryan Miller – Will be unprotected during the draft. I think Vancouver will have a few more players that Vegas will be eyeing, so he is not at risk for the draft. Though, the Canucks have stated that Markstrom will not only be protected, but their goalie from here on out. Expect Miller to pursue contracts elsewhere, as he could be a starter, but should be a backup.
Scott Darling was once a free agent come July 1st – now in Carolina
Ben Bishop was once a free agent – Now in Dallas – That leaves Niemi likely out of the mix to either be bought out, or traded to a team willing to take his contract.
Jonathan Bernier – Didn’t have a great few seasons in the rebuild stage in Toronto, but has been a starter, and reliable backup. Expect him to re-up with the Ducks or sign on for a backup role elsewhere. Not too many teams are desperate enough for him as a starter this summer with several other options available.
Chad Johnson and Brian Elliot. Both Calgary goaltenders played portions of the season with average performances. Only at the end of the season did Brian Elliot come to form and be the dominant starter Calgary had hoped he’d be. At this point I think Calgary is stuck with Elliot. His end of the season efforts pretty much guaranteed him a contract elsewhere, so expect him to re-up with Calgary. Chad Johnson (not Ocho Cinco) can really go anywhere and I don’t expect him to make much of a splash here on out.
Ondrej Pavelec will need a contract from the Jets in the next few weeks. I expect him to reprise his role as a fringe starter come the 2017/18 season with Connor Hellebuyck waiting in the wings.
Steve Mason is truly a dark horse here. Former Calder winner, with genuine starting skills has had periods of inconsistency. Some might argue this is a symptom of playing in Phillie, as they tend to burn goalies pretty hard over there. They honestly haven’t had a true season by season starter since Ron Hextall. I hope he re-ups with Phillie and does well, the guy has huge potential.
Murray, Fleury battle is over – Where will Fleury end up? I don’t even want to hypothesize because the possibilities are too numerous come draft day. Fleury isn’t a UFA but he definitely is on the move.
Darcy Kuemper, Reto Berra, Anders Nilsson, Curtis McElhinney, Jhonas Enroth, Keith Kinkaid, Michael Leighton, Jean-Francois Berube Peter Budaj and Michael Condon are all goalies that belong at the NHL level. Mostly as backups but as Condon and Budaj proved for major chunks of the season, the difference between a fringe starter and a backup is very slim. All are UFA’s come July 1st.
IF and only IF Vegas has two potential starters (whether it be in Grubauer, Raanta or Korpisalo) they can definitely sign one of these tendies as a backup or third goaltender in their system for a fairly low Cap hit.
More to come as the free agent frenzy, and the expansion draft commences.