2009 Free Agency – Goaltenders on CBJ’s Radar
With free agency set to begin this Wednesday at 12:01 pm, I thought it would be wise for our readers to breakdown the free agents goalies. I will give my input on the chances of them signing in Columbus and where I actually believe they will sign. General Manager Howson said his team needs are a backup goalie, a 3rd line center and organization depth. Keep in mind though that it’s almost impossible to predict what happens July 1st when Free Agency opens.
Nikolai Khabibulin - Chicago Blackhawks
Record: 25-8-7 2.33 GAA
Last season Chicago enter free agency with a bang, they signed Brian Campbell and Christobal Huet to monster contracts. They entered the season with over 11 million dollars in the crease and no clear number one. Nikolai is now 36 years old and had a strong season leading this young Hawks team to the Western Conference Finals. I fully expect after the season the Bulin Wall had this year he will be looking for a team that will give him the number 1 starter’s position.
Columbus already has Steve Mason between the pipes so there is absolutely no chance of him signing in Columbus to be a back up. Khabibulin will see interest from Colorado, Edmonton or LA. I think he ends up in Edmonton as they have new ownership and are looking to make a splash.
Dwayne Roloson – Edmonton Oilers
Record: 28-24-9 2.77 GAA
Dwayne is getting older, now 39 he may be more interest in term then money. He will be looking for a place to play where he could be a 1b type of a goalie. Roloson was one of the key reasons as to why the Oilers even had a remote shot at the playoffs. Similar to Bulin chances coming to Columbus I do not see this as a fit; Roloson may look to Tampa for an opportunity in a tandem with Mike Smith. I predict he moves on and enjoys the warm weather down south and signs a 2 year deal with Tampa.
Martin Biron - Philly Flyers
Record: 29-15-5 2.76 GAA
It has been reported in many newspapers that Biron is looking to cash out in a deal which right away put him out of the running in Columbus. Rumors have him asking for about 4.0 million a season. An expensive price tag for a goalie who hasn’t proved that he can win in the playoffs. Once again the four teams in need of goaltending are Edmonton, LA, Tampa and Colorado. I could see Colorado taking a shot with Biron and signing him for 2 yrs/8million.
Manny Fernandez – Boston Bruins
Record: 16-8-3 2.59 GAA
Manny is now 34 years of age and will not be brought back in Boston. Vezina winner Tim Thomas is cemented in as the team’s number one and I expect the Bruins will give the backup position to top prospect Tukka Rask. With that being said I think there may be a fit for Fernandez in Montreal. I expect the Habs will deal Halak at some point this offseason which will open up a whole for Fernandez to fill. Carey Price is the future in nets for Montreal but he needs a proven veteran to help him reach he full potential.
Craig Anderson – Florida Panthers
Record: 15-7-5 2.71 GAA
I’ve always been a fan of Anderson and if you look at his save percentages the past three seasons (.931, .935, .924.) he is ready to step into primetime and be given a number one job. He would make a great backup for Mason but I don’t think Craig would place himself directly behind a true number one. So cross Anderson off your lists, look for Toronto to make a run at him if they loose out on Jonas Gustavsson. I see him signing a 3 year deal with the Kings, he should ring in at anywhere from 1.5 to 2.25 million a season.
Scott Clemmensen – New Jersey Devils
Record: 25-13-1 2.39 GAA
Clemmensen saved the Devils from a disasterous season. When Broduer went down with an injury, Scott stepped up in a big way and was the main reason why the Devils held down a playoff spot. He would make a fine backup for Mason in Columbus but there is a thing with players in Jersey and being loyal to Lou. He will get a nice pay increase and stay in New Jersey to be a backup.
Ty Conklin – Detriot Red Wings
Record: 25-11-2 2.51 GAA
He outplayed Osgood this year but found him on the bench during the playoffs. The Red Wings have already came out and said that they will not offer Conks a new contact and go with Howard as their backup next season. Conklin will probability get an offer from Columbus but will end up in Dallas as their backup with a chance to challenge for the number 1.
Manny Legace – St.Louis Blues
Record: 13-9-2 3.18 GAA
Two seasons ago Manny found himself in the All star game, last year however he spent half the year in the minors. He is now 36 years of age and could be a cheap option for the Blue Jackets. There is no way he is considered a starting goalie and should be happen with 20-30 starts. Columbus will take a long look at Legace and will be in the running for the backup position.
Antero Niittymaki – Philly Flyers
Record: 15-8-6 2.76 GAA
Antero has proved he can be a quality backup goalie in the NHL, however when pushed into the starting role you start to see the holes in his game. He will most likely see his salary drop and may find it hard to find work. I do not see him coming to Columbus but rather signing to be the backup in Florida or resigning in Philly.
Mathieu Garon – Pittsburgh Penguins
Record: 8-9-0 3.12 GAA
Garon started the year off in Edmonton but found himself backing up Fluery on route to winning the Stanley Cup. That’s not a bad position too find yourself in but I think he will walk and possibly sign in Columbus. He had great numbers in 07/08 and the experience of going to the cup finals could do wonders for the Blue Jackets dressing room. He is still relative young at 31 years of age and I think would be a great fit for the Blue Jackets.
Curtis Joseph - Toronto Maple Leafs
His best days are behind him, no longer capable of being a goalie in the NHL.
Olaf Kolzig – Toronto Maple Leafs
His body has broken down with age, once a great goalie but like Cujo he is no longer capable of being a goalie in the NHL.
Mikhail Tellqvist - Buffalo Sabres
Signed with the KHL
Brian Boucher - San Jose Sharks
This former Blue Jacket had a great season with the Sharks compiling a 12-6 record with a 2.18 GAA. Boucher should definitely be on our radar.
Kevin Weekes - New Jersey Devils
Had a chance at the number one spot in New Jersey when Brodeur went down with injury, but still found himself in the backup position to Clemmenson. May be an option for Columbus but not before all other possibilities have been explored.
Martin Gerber - Toronto Maple Leafs
Gerber never was a number one goalie in the league but Ottawa decided to pay him like a number one. Gerber did play well in his limited time in Toronto but that may not be enough for Gerbs to find work in the NHL again. Gerber is most likely way off the radar in Columbus.
Well there you have it, there are a few lesser names still out there but they will most likely be given invites to camp or sign contracts in Europe.
Don’t forget about our message boards either, tonne of great talk going on in there.