Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NHL Free Agency 2011: Top 15 Goalies and Where They Will Land

With only a handful of elite and reliable goalies in net in the NHL, now is as good a team as ever for a team to go out and acquire a fairly decent one.

In the free agency class of 2011, there are several goalies that could do wonders for teams looking for a netminder.

Already, we have seen the top goalie on the market acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers, who have wasted no time in claiming their future goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov.

Some teams are still desperate for a goalie, though.

The New Jersey Devils, Phoenix Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning are a few, where with a decent goaltender they could make a run in the playoffs.

Here are the top goalies available that could soon find a home with any of those teams.

Alex Auld

Auld has played the back-up role for the Montreal Canadiens this past season, posting a 6-2-2 record behind Carey Price.

Since the Canadiens do not seem to be in any rush with Auld, I would expect he is safe to stay in as the back-up in Montreal.

Team: Montreal Canadiens

Ray Emery

The Anaheim Ducks have too much talent in net.

Someone can argue that point, but the fact is they have Jonas Hiller, Ray Emery and Dan Ellis.

With Hiller the starter and Ellis under contract for next season, expect Emery to be open for business on July 1.

Emery showed he may be ready for another starting spot on a roster, so look for several teams to pursue him.

New team: Florida Panthers

Peter Budaj

Budaj posted a record of 15-21-4 in 45 games this past season, leaving the possibility of a starting role somewhere in the air.

Also, the Colorado Avalanche have made it pretty clear they will not re-sign the 31-year-old.

Look for a desperate team to take a risk at making him a starter, otherwise we will see him in the back-up role in 2011-12.

New team: Edmonton Oilers

Mathieu Garon

Garon went 10-14-6 for the Columbus Blue Jackets behind starter Steve Mason.

Look for Garon to nab a back-up role again with a few team in dire need of support in the pipes.

The New Jersey Devils could be a nice fit.

New team: New Jersey Devils

Brian Boucher

Boucher's inconsistent play in net has team in need of a goalie wondering if he can actually become a legitimate starter.

Boucher went 18-10-4 for the Flyers in 2010-11, but since the team acquired Bryzgalov, they will have to part with either Michael Leighton, Bobrovsky or Boucher.

I see the Flyer leaning towards re-signing Boucher as the Bryzgalov's back-up.

Team: Philadelphia Flyers

Chris Osgood

Osgood has expressed his desire to stay with the Detroit Red Wings, so now the ball is in the team's court as to whether they feel he can be an efficient back-up behind Jimmy Howard.

Osgood played in just 11 games for the Red Wings last season, and the debate is whether the Red Wings can find a better back-up in free agency.

At 39 years old, expect the Wings to re-sign Osgood and keep him until he retires.

Team: Detroit Red Wings

Ty Conklin

Conklin's .881 save percentage and 3.22 GAA is not helping anybody, but there still is room on another team for him.

Whether that spot is as a starter or back-up has yet to be decided.

A team like the Edmonton Oilers or Phoenix Coyotes could be possible locations.
New team: Edmonton Oilers

Johan Hedberg

Hedberg had a very nice season for the New Jersey Devils, posting a .912 save percentage in 34 games played last season.

For that reason, expect the Devils, who are already in need of depth at goalie, to keep him.
Team: New Jersey Devils

Josh Harding

Hard to say what Harding's value in net is these days, after sitting out the entire 2010-11 season with a torn ACL.

However, he is still young at 27 years old.

The Minnesota Wild are likely to re-sign him.

Team: Minnesota Wild

Marty Turco

Does Turco still have starting stuff in him after being beat out by rookie Corey Crawford for the starting spot in Chicago?

We will find out, and I am sure another team would like to, as well.

A team like the Coyotes, who are in need of a starter, after parting ways with Bryzgalov, could be a good fit.

New team: Phoenix Coyotes

Mike Smith
With their top two goaltenders entering the free agent market, the Lightning need a netminder.

Dwayne Roloson did all he could last season, and Smith stepped up, for the most part, when called upon.

However, everyone knows the Lightning will be shopping this offseason, and a goalie is their biggest target. Roloson is 41 years old and Smith will not get this team to the playoffs.

With all that said, Smith seems to be the odd man out here, as Roloson is expected to be the back-up or starter if the price is not right for some of these goalies.
New team: Colorado Avalanche

Dwayne Roloson

Just to reiterate, the Lightning will be keeping Roloson as either their back-up, once they find a starter in free agency, or he may stay their starter if the price is not right.

Either way, he is in Tampa Bay next season.

Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

Pascal LeClaire

The Ottawa Senators have their two goalies in Craig Anderson and Curtis McElhinny. It would seem as though LeClaire is out of work in Ottawa.

Still, he will be coveted by teams in dire need of a very good goalie when healthy.

The problem is he played in only 14 games last season and is recovering from hip surgery.

There is room for him somewhere in the league, right?

Not with the hip injury and 60 total games the past three seasons.

New team: Europe

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Giguere's injury-plagued 2010-11 season in the last year of his contract would seem to get him the boot in Toronto.

Giguere played in just 33 games last season, finishing with a 11-11-4 record.

If he wants to test the free agent market, he should. Otherwise, he will be backing up Jason Reimer in Toronto.

Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

Tomas Vokoun
Vokoun wants out of Florida, and the mid-season trade rumors were not doing anyone any favors.

The good thing for Vokoun is that the Lightning, who seemed just a goaltender away from the Stanley Cup, have an opening at his position.

Roloson will be back, but Smith is on the move, leaving an opening in net. And the Lightning may have just deep enough pockets.

Vokoun immediately puts the Lightning at the head of that Eastern Conference, being that they just missed the Stanley Cup last season.

New team: Tampa Bay Lightning

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