• The Ever Shrinking Goalie Market

    by Tyler Dellow • June 5, 2009 • Uncategorized • 17 Comments

    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.

    About Tyler Dellow

    17 Responses to The Ever Shrinking Goalie Market

    1. coach pb
      June 5, 2009 at

      I’d be a big fan of two-year deals to both Anderson and Legace. Combined, they would come in cheaper than Roloson this year.

    2. June 5, 2009 at

      This will be one of the first times we’ll get an idea about Tambellini’s negotiating.

      Will he give long-term deals to older players, as we saw now and then in Lowe era (Staios, Roloson, Moreau, Souray, Pisani)?

      Or will Tambo see the current goalie market as you see it, Tyler, (quite correctly, it seems to me) and bargain hard?

      Of all the Oilers unknowns and crucial issues, Tambo is at the top of my list. The man is a mystery.

    3. Tach
      June 5, 2009 at

      As a Flames fan, is it wrong of me to already be having nightmares about how many more cap dollars each of the 6 more goals Kiprusoff is going to stop than any pair of these guys is costing us.

      For the next three years.

      I just vomited a little.

    4. June 5, 2009 at

      @ Tach.

      No. No it isn’t wrong. And it’s actually for the next FOUR years (at least).

    5. mc79hockey
      June 5, 2009 at

      I think it’s wrong to assume that Kiprusoff will stop more pucks than those guys.

    6. June 5, 2009 at

      Great post, Tyler. What do you think about Martin Biron? The surface numbers are good, and his real vs. expected save percentage was great too.

      Biron/Roloson
      Biron/Labarbera
      Biron/Legace

      I’d be fine with any of those.

    7. mc79hockey
      June 5, 2009 at

      With the calibre of goalies available, I’d just as soon spend a few more bucks and try and get one of the higher end guys to pair with another higher end guy. Is Manny Fernandez healthy? He needs a job. There are going to be guys who are just desperate for a position where they’d have a decent shot at a starting role that they might be able to turn into one more contract next year.

      Of course, this is all academic, because there’s no way they give up on JDD, for whatever reason, despite the fact that we’re now through five years of him not doing anything to suggest he’s worth being excited about. If they miss the playoffs by a couple of points next year and JDD plays twenty games of .890-.900 hockey so that they can protect his rights…Tambellini should lose his job.

    8. Chris
      June 5, 2009 at

      My preference would be to see them pick up Anderson and one of the more established guys. Roloson/Anderson would give us a really top notch goaltending pair. Not to mention if Anderson doesn’t pan out it gives us the Roloson safety blanket. Biron/Anderson would be outstanding as well.

    9. shepso
      June 5, 2009 at

      is it just me or does anyone else see at least the on paper potential of Roli and Fernandez as a tandem, again, not necessarily here mind you, but somewhere…
      Personally I am a big Roli supporter (for a 1 year deal) and would love a Roli/Biron combo, but I just think the potential of those two fighting it out again as too funny to be ignored. But I also have a twisted sense of humor, and also really want to steal Harding more than pretty much anything else right now…so I know I cannot be taken seriously

    10. Oilman
      June 5, 2009 at

      The glut doesn’t do much for goalie trade values either – Halak or Harding might be had on the cheap.

      Tambelini is really being served a lob ball here…no excuse for not hitting a home run in the goalie department.

      And if he was able to fire MacTavish, I see no reason for him to have any connection to Deslauriers either – he should be a throw in part of a draft deal.

    11. coach pb
      June 6, 2009 at

      Biron/Legace

      I’d be fine with any of those.

      That’s enough to get you 4 playoff wins…

    12. Eetu
      June 6, 2009 at

      I think Antero Niittymäki would be a really nice option for the Oilers. First of all, he’s Finnish. Second of all, he’s a good goalie, as his stats show (shot quality neutral save percentage on par with Roloson). Third of all, he’s affordable.

    13. Gary Bettman's Evil Twin
      June 6, 2009 at

      Just found your site. Been only following the playoffs but isn’t Fernandez retiring with his bad back? I thought I heard that. Goalies are such different entities, so contradictory in many ways and yet so important to the team that everyone wants to be able to get a handle on them. Osgood had not so good regular season stats but everyone says “He knows how to win in the playoffs.”. And yet the Wings have nearly the worst playoff PK % and at the same time the conventional wisdom is that your goalie has to be your best player on the PK! I wish I felt comfortable with one theory about goalies, even if it was very broad and general but the best I can come up with is “I like him.” or “I don’t like him.” and all the stats in the world don’t support any of my likes or dislikes as far as I can see. As for Philly, I haven’t had the sense that they’ve had confidence in any goalie other than Bernie, Pelle or Ron in all the years they’ve been in the NHL and what’s that, 41 and counting? I wouldn’t be surprised if a chunk of why they want Emery is because he’s a fighter and that fits in with the old “Bullies” image! Thanks for the interesting and intelligent read with no childish taunting and trashing.

    14. slipper
      June 6, 2009 at

      Ron MacLean should be lobbying for an executive producer credit for you on his Hot Stove segments.

    15. Knighttown
      June 6, 2009 at

      Here’s a reprint of my post from yesterday at LT’s site.

      “With the news about Emery likely signing in Philly it looks like we’ll be bidding against ourselves for a starting goalie this season.

      These teams have solid number 1′s (18):
      Van, Min, NJ, Pit, NYR, Bos, Buf, Car, Fla, TB, COl, Nas, St. L, Ana, Dal, Phx, SJ, Det.

      These teams may have question marks but have committed, either in $ or in a top prospect and would have to make a trade (7):
      NYI, Mo, Ott, Cal, Chi, Atl, Phi

      That leaves 4 teams bidding against the Oilers:

      Was- I expect they’ll be aggressive although Throdore is under contract and Varlamov showed promise.

      Col- needing a goalie but they’ll either go mid level or young with high upside cause they’re not going to compete.

      LA- tough call. They like the potential of the young guys and so Lombardi will probably stay the course. However, they may want to make the playoffs and have the cap room to go big game hunting if they want to.

      Tor- I think Toskala is fine but apparently they don’t. Even if they do sign someone that just means another decent option is available.

      The Options:
      UFA or available big fish-
      Giguere, Khabibulin. Gustavsson

      Of course, not a typical move for lots of reasons but if you believe in value, you’ll never get either of these guys cheaper. Giguere has a NMC but you’d think he’d move it to start. Khabi’s really good and won’t get anywhere near the $ or term he got. Would 4 million/1 year work?

      Mid-level:
      A ton here including Dan Ellis, Clemmenson, Biron, Toskala, Anderson, Harding. There is a ton of value here and assuming no one is going to pay more than a million for a backup, you could get two of these guys for the price of one any other year. All have a mix of upside and history/pedigree.

      There’s also guys like Fernandez, Theodore, Nittymaki, Garon, LaBarbera, Auld, Gerber, Roloson, Budaj, Sanford, Tellquist and Boucher who could be had for 10 cents on the dollar.

      No matter how you slice it, some excellent goalies are going to be backups and some damn good ones will be heading overseas. I’d love to hear what our resident goalie guru Asia has to say about this situation.

      1:15 PM, June 05, 2009″

      I think, perhaps, Washington will be involved in the bidding process. They’re time to contend is now and no one can be sold on a rookie with virtually no regular season NHL action.

      I like where you went with your post. There is zero excuse for Tambo to sign TWO talented, somewhat youthful goalies for any length of time and any dollar amount he wants. Assuming no one will pay more than 1 million for a backup, Washington signs Khabi and Colorado signs, say, Biron.

      Screw it, offer 4 year/3 million contracts to Anderson, Ellis and Clemmenson. 1 year/1 million to Roloson and Fernandez. If you don’t get two, offer a 7th for Toskala or a 3rd for Harding or Halak. The only one I’d pay good money for is Gustavsson IF they think he’s Lundquist and I haven’t seen him enough to know.

      Half these guys are going over seas. Literally, half.

    16. June 6, 2009 at

      @slipper – wow, I was out watching teenaged girls fawn over Rob Lowe tonight so I just saw this. Funny stuff.

      @KT – The problem I have with the WSH thing is that you’d have to be crazy to sign Theo for two years, $9MM but they went out and did it. If they can send Varlamov down, maybe they go ahead and try a Theo/someone combo and then see whether they can catch lightning in a bottle. That actually sounds pretty reasonable to me. If I was a cagey agent with a guy looking for a job who was better than Theo, I might give McPhee a call on July 1.

    17. coach pb
      June 7, 2009 at

      I think Antero Niittymäki would be a really nice option for the Oilers. First of all, he’s Finnish. Second of all, he’s a good goalie, as his stats show (shot quality neutral save percentage on par with Roloson). Third of all, he’s affordable.

      His hip is always a concern though.

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