Monday, June 28, 2010

Too many free agent goalies this July!

This doesn't bode well for my favorite free agent, Jose Theodore.

9 goalies who could be on the move July 1

By Dan Rosen - Staff Writer

There is a glut of goaltenders headed to the free-agent market on July 1, and only a few teams that will be seeking a true No. 1. So, no, this isn't the best time to be an unrestricted free-agent goalie looking for a fresh start and a lot of money on a multi-year deal.

Listed below are the nine most interesting goaltenders that could be changing zip codes for the 2010-11 NHL season:

Marty Turco -- Longtime No. 1 for the Stars is definitely not returning to Dallas because Kari Lehtonen is the goalie of the future there, and seemingly that future is now. Turco, 34, is one of the bigger names on the market and will likely command a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal. He has played his entire nine-year career in Dallas, but he has already sold his home and said he's excited to get on a plane to meet his new team.

Evgeni Nabokov -- Sharks GM Doug Wilson has reportedly granted permission to the Philadelphia Flyers so they can speak to Nabokov's camps. If the Flyers are able to agree on a deal before July 1, the Sharks will get a 2011 seventh-round pick. Nabokov, like Turco, wants big money but if NHL GMs like Wilson are going to start investing less of their cap money in goal based off watching Michael Leighton and Antti Niemi duke it out in the Stanley Cup Final, then high-priced guys might have a tougher time. Nabokov is one of the League's best regular season goalies, but his success has not translated into the playoffs.

Chris Mason -- With Jaroslav Halak now in St. Louis, Mason becomes one of the more interesting names on the free-agent market. He has good credentials and obviously can be a No. 1, but finding a team that will give him a chance to be a No. 1 for two or more years may prove difficult. However, he will command less in salary than Turco and Nabokov, which could make him a better option for some teams.Mason was 57-43-15 with a 2.47 GAA in two years as a Blue, and he was in contract talks before the Halak trade.

Michael Leighton -- Star of Philadelphia's postseason might not be back if the Flyers can sign Nabokov. Or, if he wants to be back in orange and black if the Flyers do sign Nabokov, he'll have to take backup money. Leighton became a fan favorite this past spring, but those same fans also remember the OT goal he gave up to Patrick Kane in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Dan Ellis -- Pushed out of Nashville thanks to the emergence of Pekka Rinne, Ellis isn't going to command huge money and he could be a steal because he's motivated and he wants to win, but he also wants to be a No. 1. He's never been out of the first round of the playoffs.

Antero Niittymaki -- Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is reportedly interested in bringing him back, but at what price and for how many years? It wouldn't be a bad idea for Niittymaki to test his value on the open market. He was 21-18-5 last season with a .909 save percentage and 2.87 GAA.

Jose Theodore -- Semyon Varlamov is ready to take over as the No. 1 in Washington and Michal Neuvirth is not far behind after just winning the Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears. Theodore was a good soldier in D.C., but his time is likely up. Teams will have to decide if he's still a No. 1 or a definite backup now.

Martin Biron -- Biron seems like the best fit to slide in as Carey Price's backup in Montreal. He'd be home and the French media would love his gregarious personality. You could pencil him in for 20-25 games and his demeanor might be perfect for the young Price. Returning to Buffalo as Ryan Miller's backup is also a good option for Biron.

Johan Hedberg -- The market will likely determine that Hedberg, 37, is a backup, but the Thrashers might want him back to be the buffer for Ondrej Pavelec for one more year. Atlanta may be his best spot to be assured some serious playing time. He was 21-16-6 with a 2.62 GAA last season.

Nine more: Vesa Toskala, Steve Valiquette, Alex Auld, Andrew Raycroft, Yann Danis, Curtis Sanford, Patrick Lalime, Ray Emery, Manny Legace.

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