Blog Entry

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Posted on: July 22, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:39 pm

By Adam Gretz

It's a bad time of year to be a goaltender still sitting on the free-agent market. A position that had limited opportunities at the start of the offseason (as we discussed with Phoenix's Mike Smith on Thursday) is now even thinner when it comes to potential job openings, especially after Detroit's signing of Ty Conklin on Wednesday and the Sabres' re-signing of Jhonas Enroth on Thursday.

With those two players signed, every team in the NHL now has at least two goalies under contract for the 2011-12 season, and as James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail pointed out, many of them are on one-way deals that all but settles the goaltending spots around the league.  Even though all of the spots have have been filled, there are still some players that could help a team looking for work.

The three biggest names still available: Marty Turco, Pascal Leclaire and Ray Emery. Unless somebody is willing to take a minor-league deal, or perhaps look overseas, it could be a lengthy wait for a spot to open up this season.

Here's a quick look at the three top goalies still available.

Marty Turco: This is nothing more than a guess at this point, but could Turco be the next goalie to call it a career? At the age 35, he's coming off what was statistically the worst season of his 10-year NHL career, and simply isn't the player he once was during his days in Dallas when he was one of the better goaltenders in the league. He spent last season with the Blackhawks where he ended up backing up rookie Corey Crawford for much of the regular season and all of the playoffs. It's true he remained unsigned until early August last offseason, but it's unlikely another job will open up the same way Chicago's did when it walked away from Antti Niemi's arbitration ruling.

Pascal Leclaire: A top-10 pick by the Blue Jackets back in 2001, Leclaire showed flashes of potential early in his career with Columbus, including the 2007-08 season where he won 24 games and recorded six shutouts, but he has struggled in the years since. He was relegated to backup duty with the Jackets in 2008 because of the emergence of Steve Mason before eventually being traded to Ottawa, where he also served as a backup the past two seasons. Injuries, as well as inconsistent play on the ice, have also helped to derail his development. He's still only 28 years old.

Ray Emery: Of the goalies still available, Emery is the one that can probably offer the most help to a team this season, assuming there was one that still needed a goalie at this point. He's bounced around between Ottawa, Philadelphia and Anaheim throughout his seven-year career, as well as making a brief stop in Russia during the 2008-09 season. He ended up being nominated for the Masterson Trophy last season after helping lead the Ducks into the postseason and started all six of their playoff games. He's around the same age as Leclaire but has had more success in recent years, including in the postseason where he started for the Senators team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, as well as last year's appearance with Anaheim.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:50 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: May 11, 2008
Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:08 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Turco would make a solid backup.....PHL should give him call.

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2011 11:39 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

i would bet the farm that none of them get signed this off-season/season.  Not worth the gamble/headache costs associated at the end of the NHL work day.  All 30 of them don't need them on their team.  Reality sucks that way I know.

Since: Nov 19, 2007
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:58 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Correction, I forgot about 2004 when Nabakov actually won 2 games in the West. Conf. Finals.  Doesnt change my opinion, Niemi still is younger and better than Nabby.

Since: Nov 19, 2007
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:52 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Niemi actually took the Sharks 1 game further into the playoffs in 1 year than Nabakov ever did in all his previous years with better teams.  I would never choose Nabby over Niemi, Nabby never won a damn thing.

Since: Nov 19, 2007
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:48 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Im pretty sure the Islanders will retain Nabakovs rights this year, thus he is not a free-agent.  That still doenst mean that the Islanders wont move the rights to him, but Nabakov wont be a free-agent until next summer.



Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: July 24, 2011 4:06 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

I dont know how anyone thinks Niemi is overrated. He just finished his 2nd season- 61-25 over the past two years very good GAA and SPCT, he carried the Sharks over the 2nd half and was one of the best goalies in the league after he won the platoon battle- oh yeah- and he  carried the hawks to the cup 2 years ago. Not a bad first two years....the guy is on his way to becoming a top flight goalie, if he isnt already there.

Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: July 23, 2011 5:48 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

Im pretty sure your wrong on this one, the Islanders do hold his rights.

Since: Jul 23, 2011
Posted on: July 23, 2011 9:08 am

Free-agent goalies running out of options

While Nabokov may be the biggest name still out there, if his rights belong to the Islanders then that would make him NOT a free-agent right?
  However my understanding is that the waiver-claim the Islanders made after Detroit signed Nabokov ended with the season making him a free-agent again, because he never reported to the Islanders. I guess if he isn't signed by some arbitrary date during the season he will be subject to the waier rules again, but for now anyteam can sign him without another team staking a claim.

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:08 pm

Free-agent goalies running out of options

I beg to differ with the gist of the article. The biggest name still available is Evgeni Nabokov!!!! His rights belong to the very pathetic and incompetent NY Islanders. I actually feel sorry for him and wish that I did own an NHL team because I would trade for him. The goalie the Sharks picked up to replace Nabokov didn't pan out as well as it did for the Blackhawks. Is Antti Niemi overrated? Of course he is, but the Sharks are trying to cut costs so they chose to go with a unheralded goalie......and look how well it turned out.

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