Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Analysis: The UFA Goaltending Market

by Jes

With the news that Nicklas Backstrom has re-signed with the Minnesota Wild, the market for good goaltending went from bad to worse.

So, What's left in the open market?

Using SV%, which is the best measure of a goaltenders' ability that we have easily available, we see that it's not much of a selection. Keep in mind that the average SV% for the league was 90.5% for ALL goaltenders.

PLAYER Save Percentage%
J-S Giguere 91.8%
D. Hasek 91.2%
J. Thibault 90.9%
Mathieu Garon 90.7%
D. Sabourin 90.6%
Ed Belfour 90.2%
D. Aebischer 90.0%
J. McLennan 89.5%
Curtis Joseph 89.3%
J. Markkanen 88.6%
B. Boucher 88.2%
Kevin Weekes 87.9%
Robert Esche 87.2%

Who needs goaltending? According to James Mirtle (where I got the idea for this post):

In terms of starters, Boston, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Toronto could all potentially be in the market. (Not surprisingly, only one of those teams made the postseason last year.)

There are a great deal more teams searching for backups, including some teams like Vancouver where the second netminder will have to pick up janitorial duties on the side to earn his minimum salary.

Looking at my list, there are only two above-average starting goaltenders available.

Thibault, Garon, and Aebischer could make average-at-best starters on a poor team. Sabourin may do well if he got a real shot. Otherwise? It's all backups, and some very poor ones at that. Oh, batty Belfour and his bad back are there, if anyone really wants him.

I'm very glad that the Canucks have Luongo locked up nicely. They simply need to bring in a backup that can play half decent in a handful of games. I'd like to see Sabourin back for another season, but I'd understand if he wants to go somewhere that would give him a true chance to shine.

Giguere? This is his big chance to cash in, seeing as how he is, by far, the biggest fish in the UFA goalie pond. Toronto would be wise to open up the pocket book, if possible, and realize that the Andrew Raycroft experiment was a gigantic failure.

While Hasek can still kick it old school, you know he's too flakey for some teams and very picky about where he wants to go.

Is it any wonder why Manny Fernandez might now be a really great trading chip for the Minnesota Wild?

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"Toronto would be wise to open up the pocket book, if possible, and realize that the Andrew Raycroft experiment was a gigantic failure."
Not likely. The team has between $8 and $12 million in cap space [depending on how much it goes up] and JFJ said his top priority was finding some good wingers for Sundin. At best, I expect them to find a respectable back-up to help take some of the load off of Raycroft. Raycroft played so much last year because Maurice had so little confidence in Aubin, he had no choice but to ride Razor. I expect the Leafs to try and get Kevin Weekes - a local boy who loves playing in Toronto, and who might not be aversed to being a back-up with starter potential.

- Jer
Good post, Jes.

Giguere would be very smart to wait until July 1st and see what teams will throw at him. I'd imagine $7mil a season isn't out of the question at all. Now's his big chance to cash in, and he should take it.

I'd also add Tampa Bay as a team in need of a goaltender. They have resigned Holmqvist, but I don't see him as a legitimate #1. Denis still has two years left on his contract, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them buy him out or send him to the minors so his contract doesn't count towards the cap.

I don't see Toronto picking up another goaltender. Raycroft will have to do, as I'm happy to say, they are in more need of some actual offensive help.

For his own sake, I'd love to see a team take a shot at Sabourin, and give him a shot to at least split the duties. I think he's capable of being a pretty good goalie.

Now who do the Canucks sign? Hmmm...
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