Allan Walsh, an NHL agent on Twitter, made the following comment about the goalie market this summer: “I have been looking at the NHL UFA goalie market for this summer. Many intriguing scenarios can play out. Watch for action here.”
With Philadelphia having apparently come to an agreement with Ray Emery, I’m not sure that I agree with him. I pointed out last summer that there was going to be a goaltending glut this summer. At the time, I wrote: “Barring deaths, Conklin circa. 2006 performances from their starting goaltenders or signings between now and then, I think that we’re going to see – at most – Boston, Colorado, Edmonton, LA, Minnesota, Ottawa, Philadelphia and St. Louis in the market for a starting goaltender.”
Things have gotten a lot tighter for the goalie yearning to get paid since then. Nobody died or played so catastrophically as to cost themselves a job on a team that didn’t have a better option readily available. Boston has Tim Thomas signed with Tuukka Rask as his backup. Los Angeles got a good season out of Jonathan Quick and, between him, Jonathan Bernier and Erik Ersberg, they’re probably not going to be buying a goalie. Minnesota locked up Niklas Backstrom. Ottawa traded for Pascal Leclaire. Chris Mason seized the reins in St. Louis. If Philadelphia goes ahead and signs Emery, by my count that leaves two teams without a clear starting goaltender: Edmonton and Colorado. Otherwise, it’s backup jobs available, unless some team is willing to eat a pile of money.
There are a ton of competent or better goalies available: Craig Anderson, Nikolai Khabibulin, Dwayne Roloson, Martin Biron, Manny Fernandez and Manny Legace probably top the list. You can probably toss Scott Clemmensen onto the list, although I don’t find him that interesting. All of those guys presumably want to be starters. None of them really have much in the way of palatable options. The talk from guys like Robin Brownlee is that Dwayne Roloson wants a two year deal. If the Oilers end up giving it to him, they’ve almost certainly failed to maximize their leverage.
One thing that the Oilers might consider is whether or not it makes sense to sign a pair of these guys, say Anderson and Roloson, and let them fight it out. Maybe you give Anderson an extra year so he’s got some incentive to come here. While there’s the Jeff Deslauriers problem, practically speaking, he may well be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season – if he doesn’t play at least 30 minutes in at least 20 games, he qualifies under the same rule that Curtis Glencross qualified under. With the Oilers most likely to be life or death to make the playoffs, it’s hard to see him playing very many games, particularly if Quinn agrees with MacTavish’s implicit assessment of JDD. It would seem to me to make a great deal of sense to explore whether the Oilers couldn’t get better by having a very good backup, whose identity will be sorted out once the two guys signed to compete for the starter’s job determine a champion.