Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Contract Year Anomaly - The Goaltenders

This is a first of a series of post I hope to get out before we get too deep into the season, compiling lists of those players who are in the last year of the contract, what they're doing to Rod Tidwell status, and what teams will do to keep them. I figured we might as well start from the back out and list the goaltenders, seems like as good a place to start as any. I've been trying to figure out the best way to compile these lists, and I think by position makes the most sense. Now this isn't a complete list, this just highlights the best and brightest, (or at the very least the B-listers) of the League at the time. Those who have been guilty of sucking have been left out to protect the innocent. And away we go...

Yes Vesa, bow your head in shame.

10. Vesa Toskala, TOR - $4mil

Mr. Toskala seems very uninterested in playing hockey anymore, whether that's due to playing in Toronto, or just typical Finnish demeanor I don't think we'll ever know. Its hard to imagine this guy coming back to play in the League, although I'm sure some schmuck will offer him something, my bets are on him leaving to play in the KHL, the Swedish Elite League or back home in the SM-liiga.

9. Dan Ellis, NSH - $1.75mil
Mr. Ellis has played himself out of the #1 position for the Preds. Either that, or last year's would-be Calder nominee (see #1), played better. Dan's probably headed for another seat on the bench next year, but probably in some other town due to the fact that Nashville will have to pony up to keep Rinne.

8. Jose Theodore, WAS - $4.5mil
Jose hasn't played all that terribly this year but he won't command anywhere near the salary he's been earning. Originally thought as George McPhee's biggest mistake, he and prodigy Var-LAHM-ov have made a nice tandem for the Caps. Washington will need one or both in order to go deep this year. My feeling is that Jose will play well enough this year to earn some of the value back that he lost from his poor play in previous years, but like I said nothing near $4mil.

7. Marty Biron, NYI - $1.4mil
Poor Marty got picked last, but seems happy to still be in the League. He and Rolosson provide good support for a young Isles team that's trying to find its legs so that it can stand in a few years. Maybe. Most experts pegged this deal as genius, a movable contract that can go to a team in dire need of goaltending. Biron hasn't been the answer in Buffalo, or Philadelphia, it would be funny to seem him do something with a contending team in a trade.

'He's got a great big, bushy beard!'

6. Chris Mason, STL - $3mil

We hear at 'the Grip' love talking about Mason's, but we are always sure to get the right Mason. This one is Chris, he plays for the Blues, loves long walks on the beach, and hates rude people. Chris was one of the main reasons the Blues made that incredible playoff push after the All-Star break. Not one of the best goaltenders in the League by any means, but he gets the job done as a solid workhorse on a nuts and bolts team. I would think that John Davidson would extend him, the Blues are never big buyers in free agency, but you never know how it will play out.

5. Ray Emery, PHI - $1.5mil
Everyone's favorite timebomb. Holmgren could only offer him a year deal to see if his game hadn't gone to shit, and that he could be on his best behavior. Who am I kidding? This is the Flyers we're talking about, bad behavior is a commodity in this town. Emery's doing well enough to get the Bullies to the postseason, but I don't know if he's the netminder to get them over the hump. My guess is the Flyers will go deep, but of course not deep enough, and they'll re-up Emery on a two or three year deal with a small raise, if possible.

4. Evgeni Nabokov, SJS - $5.375mil
Well Ron Wilson picked the right one, or did he? Nabokov runs hot and cold, and I think its safe to say that Wilson's "makeover" that began this summer will probably continue into next if the Sharks can't get it done. Sometimes this guy is unreal, other times he makes Vesa look sharp as a tack. But he's a solid goaltender, and if he doesn't get re-signed in the South Bay, he'll get picked up elsewhere, no doubt.
3. Marty Turco, DAL - $5.7mil
Marty Turco's in a contract year, holy shit! This is the one everyone should be watching. After an absolutely miserable season last year, blamed solely on Sean Avery, Turco can't help but play better this year. It's impossible to suck any worse. Dallas is a middle of the pack team, that can always make a run, and that's thanks to solid goaltending, when they have it. My gut says Turco will retire in Dallas. Money-wise, probably somewhere near the same amount.

2. Jonas Hiller, ANA - $1.3mil
This is where it gets interesting. Young goaltender, plays hard (almost every night), and fills up the net well. Jonas is a big dude, not big like Giguere's chest protector, big in the net. I have no doubt that Hiller is the future for Anaheim and Giguere is the past. They'll have to lock him up early in order to avoid the big money that will be waved his way if he sees the dawn of Canada Day.

I'm making how much?! Oh that shit's gotta stop.

1. Pekka Rinne, NSH - $725k
Pekka has both the best name in the league right now, and has the best value per contract. He and Hiller are the young guys of the group with bright future's in front of them. Now Pekka probably won't make the top tier $6mil threshold, but he'll command a hefty raise in the $4mil area I would think. Nashville's never big on shelling out big dough, but I think this is a contract they'll have to offer. Otherwise they'll be taking another ride on the Nashville goaltending carousel, Vokoun, Chris Mason, Ellis, Rinne, ?

There's another 10 of probable Pine Riders up for free agency as well, I won't even bother to rank or comment on these poor bastards....
Johan Hedberg, ATL - $1mil
Patrick Lalime, BUF - $1mil
Michael Leighton, CAR - $600k
Peter Budaj, COL - $1.25mil
Alex Auld, DAL - $1mil -
Yann Danis, NJD - $500k
Stephen Valiquette, NYR - $725
Brent Johnson, PIT - $525k
Antero Niittymaki, TAM - $600k
Andrew Raycroft, VAN - $500k

And then of course there's the Offer Sheet Bait...
Justin Pogge, ANA - $605k - Burke's not impressed, why should we be?
Kari Lehtonen, ATL - $3mil - 'We can re-build him, we have the technology.'
Ondrej Pavelec, ATL - $1.4mil - Helmetless save and you're the greatest thing ever.
Antti Niemi, CHI - $827k - Arbitration - Gotta steal the show from Huet. Shouldn't be hard.
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, EDM - $625k - Arbitration Eligible - Took his wife's name.
Jaroslav Halak, MTL - $775k - Arbitration Eligible - I do this when I cough up phlegm.
Jonas Gustavsson, TOR - $2.5 - Arbitration Eligible - Re-sign in Toronto.
Cory Schneider, VAN - $1.1mil - Manitoba Moose-bound.

'I love my tuxedo t-shirt because it says I'm formal, but I like to party.'

Carey Price, MTL - $2.2mil
Price name has hit the rumor mill of potential trade bait for Bob Gainey. He hasn't been playing great, but he's been playing well enough to keep the Habs in it. His motivation and his focus have been called into question more often than not, but again he's a young goaltender and he's got the potential to be a great netminder in the future. Think Jose Theodore, before everything exploded, that's right about where Price is at. And in Montreal too.
Somebody get me out from under this rock named Backstrom.

Josh Harding, MIN - $1.1mil
This is another young guy who I think has a great future ahead of him, but just needs to get out into the limelight, and establish some consistency on a regular playing routine. Backing up a great goalie like Backstrom is not going to allow you to do that. I hope someone extends this guy an offer sheet, but I don't think they will have enough faith to hand over the #1 role. Yet.
As far as Teams with something to think about...
Toronto - Dump Vesa, go with the Monster
Nashville - Sign Rinne, bye bye Ellis
Montreal - I don't know what Gainey's thinking. First he goes all in with Price, and now he's second guessing him.
Dallas - Will probably stick with Turco, for better or worse.
Atlanta - Its like a Presidential election, who's not as bad as the other.
Anaheim - Go with youth, ship JS to Toronto.
Philadelphia - Goaltending carousel, Emery and Philadelphia seem like a perfect fit. In demeanor.
Washington - Var-LAHM-ov's the future, right?

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