Posted on: July 27, 2011 7:46 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 8:07 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Last week looked at the handful of veteran goaltenders still looking for work around the NHL, and how few options they had. One of those players was journeyman Ray Emery, who spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks. According to ESPN's Scott Burnside, Emery will take part in the Chicago Blackhawks training camp on a tryout basis, presumably in an effort to compete for the backup job (along with Alexander Salak) behind second-year starter Corey Crawford.
As I said last week, I think Emery has a shot to be the most productive of the goaltenders still remaining (the others are Marty Turco and Pascal Leclaire) and getting him on a tryout basis is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward move for the Blackhawks.
Worst case scenario for Chicago is Emery gives the 24-year-old Salak some healthy competition, while the possibility remains that he could steal the show and give the Blackhawks a solid veteran backup that's been a productive NHL goaltender at various times throughout his career.
The 28-year-old Emery appeared in 10 regular season games with the Ducks last season, and appeared in all six of their playoff games against the Nashville Predators.
Crawford signed a three-year contract with the Blackhawks earlier this summer worth $2.6 million per season. He wrestled the starting job away from Turco after the veteran was brought in to help replace Antti Niemi, who the Blackhawks walked away from due to last summer's salary cap crunch. The 26-year-old recored a .917 save percentage during the regular season and impressed in his first playoff appearance (.927 save percentage), even though the Blackhawks fell to the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round
Salak, 24, has appeared in just two NHL games in his career (both of which came with the Florida Panthers during the 2009-10 season), and spent last season in Sweden.
Photo: Getty Images
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
Posted on: July 11, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:56 pm
By Adam Gretz
The Red Wings went into the workday Monday with only one goaltender under contract for the upcoming season -- returning starter Jimmy Howard, who is signed through next year at a cap hit of $2.25 million. By Monday afternoon the club had reached a two-year, two-way contract with backup Joey MacDonald, with the possibility remaining that veteran Chris Osgood could be returning to the mix as well.
MacDonald's deal will pay him an average annual salary of $550,000 if he plays in the NHL, and $105,000 if he plays in the minor leagues, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. General manager Ken Holland said, via St. James, that MacDonald is likely to open the season as the Red Wings' No. 3 goalie and that the team is still looking to add another veteran to backup Howard.
Speculation has naturally turned to Osgood, a 17-year veteran who has had two different stints wearing the winged wheel, in large part because other veteran free agents have already landed in other spots, including Tomas Vokoun in Washington and Jose Theodore in Florida. Other than Osgood, the remaining unrestricted free agent options include Pascal Leclaire, Ty Conklin (who has spent time with the Red Wings in the past and has been mentioned as a possibility this offseason), Patrick Lalime, Marty Turco and Ray Emery. In all honesty, that's pretty interchangeable group.
Osgood, who turns 39 in November, was limited to 11 games last season because of injury and has appeared in just 34 games over the past two seasons, recording a .892 save percentage.
The potential Howard-Osgood-MacDonald trio isn't the greatest collection of goaltenders across the league, but goaltending hasn't really been the backbone of the franchise in the cap era. Instead, the Red Wings have loaded up on their forwards and defense and made smaller investments between the pipes.
Over the past three years, Detroit has been in the bottom-five in terms of the percentage of its payroll that's been invested in goalies (fifth lowest in 2008-09, third lowest in 2009-10 and fifth lowest in 2009-10) and currently has the smallest commitment for 2011-12.
Regardless of who the team signs to play behind Howard this season, its investment in goaltending isn't likely to be a significant one.
Posted on: July 4, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 12:55 pm
NHL free agency is unilke any other sport's. Within the first few hours -- first day at the latest -- the majority of the free agents, let alone impact players, are off the market. But not all of them.
Atop the list of players still looking for work is Tomas Kaberle. A bit maligned in Boston for the team's power-play struggles, it's not as if Kaberle isn't still good at what he does. Last season for the he had four goals and 43 assists.
It is still no foregone conclusion that he won't be back in Beantown next year. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said before free agency opened that Kaberle would test the waters, but that they would continue negotiations.
Or perhaps he could be on the radar of the Rangers down the coast. New York still needs a little bit of help on the back end and Kaberle could be a nice fit. If he doesn't make sense cap wise (the Rangers have $15 million but multiple restricted free agents left to sign) then they could stick with Bryan McCabe at a cheaper rate.
Regardless, there is still some useful talent to be had. Here's a look at the best available.
Jason Arnott: He's a bit long in the tooth, but Arnott can be a solid veteran center for any team in the market. Scored 17 goals with 14 assists last season between New Jersey and Washington.
Jamie Langenbrunner: It will be interesting to see what role teams think Langenbrunner can fill at this point. Saw a drop of 19 points between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Antti Miettinen: He has a little bit more youth than most of the players still up for grabs and he can provide some decent scoring. Last season with the Wild he had 16 goals, the season before he had a career-high 20. However, he could be KHL-bound.
Vaclav Prospal: Prospal played only 29 games last season due to injury, but was pretty darn productive in that time for the Rangers when the 36-year-old had nine goals and 14 assists.
Sergei Samsonov: Samsonov found a little spark after being traded to Florida at the end of last season, tallying three goals and 11 assists in 20 games for the Panthers. There is probably a home on a third line somewhere for him.
Teemu Selanne: The suspense here isn't where he will play, it is if he will play. Selanne will sign with the Ducks if he decides he'll play another season, if not it's off to the world of retirement. Still very productive with 31 goals and 49 assists last season.
Cory Stillman: Like many of the guys on the list, he is a veteran with plenty of experience but can still wield the stick a little. Stillman had 12 goals with 27 assists last season between Carolina and Florida.
Nikolai Zherdev: Zherdev has youth on his side compared to the rest here at just 26 years of age. Didn't have an incredibly productive year (and played just 56 games) with Philly last season, but with an increased role he could show more of the form that saw him score 23 and 26 goals the previous two seasons.
Scott Hannan: Hannan is a solid own-end defenseman who will find a home somewhere for teams looking to lock down in the back end. Because of his lack of offense (one goal, 10 assists last season) he should come at a pretty cheap price for whoever signs him.
Tomas Kaberle: After spending 11 seasons in Toronto, Kaberle could be joining his third team in three years if he doesn't return to Boston. He is still young enough (32) that he can get a pretty nice contract from some team.
Bryan McCabe: One of the better power-play captains a few years ago, McCabe still does a good job commanding the special teams. He won't command anywhere near the same contract he's coming off of and should be an affordable offensive option. Still very possible he could return to the Rangers.
Brent Sopel: Like Hannan, he's more of a defenseman's defenseman, a guy that will block shots and do his best to keep the puck out of the net. Teams interested in him won't be in the market for a top-four defenseman, but that doesn't mean he has no value, his plus-6 last season in 71 games for the Habs evidence.
Ray Emery: I thought Emery might be one of the goalies teams would target, but now he and the rest of the guys on this list are left in a tough spot as the goaltender market dried up pretty quickly and the need isn't big. But Emery should find a home.
Pascal Leclaire: Leclaire could be out of luck for NHL jobs, perhaps waiting until the middle of the year when some team is looking for depth. The concern with him is the injury history as he has struggled to stay healthy for his whole career.
Marty Turco: After years as the starter in Dallas, Turco has now been pretty much relegated to a backup, playing last season behind Corey Crawford in Chicago. Could be a midseason acquisition for teams searching for some depth and experience.
By Brian Stubits
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 12:06 pm
If this were real estate, we'd call it a seller's market and Tomas Vokoun would be the blemished old house down the road that ends up looking like a palace.
That was one of the many things that resulted from the Ilya Bryzgalov-to-Philadelphia story. Vokoun was left as the clear cream of the crop for teams in search of goaltending, which figures to be a short list. Teams like Colorado, and possibly Phoenix and Edmonton will need to address their situations -- as will the Florida Panthers.
Because of his status as the best option available, Vokoun will likely command another high salary, not necessarily because his play warrants it but the market could dictate as such. In the end that will largely depend on how many teams decide to take a gander at the goaltender.
Here are this year's best goaltenders (in alphabetical order).
Brian Boucher -- Flyers: The veteran was much maligned in Philadelphia, but he was serviceable. Last season he played 34 games for the Flyers, going 18-10-4 with a .916 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average. While he doesn't figure to be a starting goaltender for any team, he certainly still has value to a team looking for a solid backup.
Ray Emery -- Ducks: Once upon a time, Emery looked to be a promising up-and-comer in the NHL with the Senators. Since then he struggled, went to the KHL then returned to Philly before finding out he had avascular necrosis which led to the removal of 13 centimeters of his right fibula. But he came back last season for the Ducks, earning a Masterton Trophy nomination, winning seven of his 10 regular-season starts before going 2-3 in the playoffs. Point is, Emery appears able to be a contributor again for a team in net.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- Maple Leafs: A long way removed from his Conn Smythe run in 2003, Giguere has spent the last two seasons in Toronto, no longer a starting-quality goaltender. In 33 games for the Leafs in 2010-11, he had an 11-11-4 record with a less-than stellar 2.87 GAA and .900 save percentage. Now 34, Giguere's demand won't be very high but would provide a veteran backup for some team in need.
Vokoun -- Panthers: There are varying opinions about Vokoun, some point to him playing just five playoff games in his career while others note how bad the teams in front of him in both Nashville and Florida have been. His .922 save percentage is proof he can play. Vokoun is streakier than your average goalie, capable of having a month-long run where he is unbeatable followed by a bevy of three-, four-goal games. Teams in the hunt will be those looking for a full-time starter, most likely Colorado.
Others of interest: Mike Smith (TB), Jose Theodore (MIN), Josh Harding (MIN), Johan Hedberg (NJ), Pascal Leclaire (OTT)
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 26, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 5:25 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: The Pittsburgh Penguins (idle Saturday) are in if the Carolina Hurricanes lose in any fashion. The Boston Bruins could have clinched with some help today, but fell to the New York Rangers, 1-0.
ALREADY IN: Vancouver, Philadelphia and Washington.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Tampa Bay Lightning (39-24-11) at Carolina Hurricanes (35-29-10), 7 p.m. ET
The first half of this home-and-home went well for the ‘Canes, who remained three points behind the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres. Erik Cole scored twice to lead Carolina past host Tampa Bay, 4-3, on Friday. The teams have split the first four meetings this season, although the two Southeast Division clubs have been going in opposite directions as of late.
The ‘Canes enter on a three-game winning streak, while the Lightning have dropped four in a row with only two victories over the last 10 games. (Tampa did get points in four of those games with OT/shootout losses.) Tampa has allowed three goals on the penalty kill over the last two games, but they’ve also scored that many on the power play with two coming off the stick of Simon Gagne on Friday.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (41-28-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (40-25-8), 8:30 p.m. ET
With the Western Conference standings as bunched up as they are, this Blackhawks (seventh place) and the Ducks (eighth) game should have another playoff game vibe to it. When Patrick Kane scores, like he did in Wednesday’s victory over the Florida Panthers, things usually bode well for the ‘Hawks, who are 15-1-2 when the forward lights the lamp. It’ll be interesting to see which goalie -- Jonas Hiller, Dan Ellis or Ray Emery -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle will go with tonight. Hiller was shaky in his return from more than a month off due to vertigo and Ellis and Emery had been solid in net in recent weeks.
GOLF WATCH: The New York Islanders need to win and have the Buffalo Sabres lose in regulation to remain in it. Florida, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Colorado are already mathematically eliminated.
--- A.J. Perez
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 4:52 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight.
ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7) at Boston Bruins (40-22-10), 7 pm ET
This game would certainly have importance even if Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s check didn’t leave Montreal Canadeins forward Max Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck and a severe concussion the last time these two teams met. The Bruins lead the Northeast by three points over the Habs, who are 4-1-0 against Boston this season.
The reaction (overreaction?) by Montreal fans after Chara was ejected -- but not suspended -- over the incident on March 8 has quieted some since it became known that Pacioretty could make it back for the playoffs. Then Boston forward Mark Recchi goes on a sports talk radio station this week and says the Canadiens “embellished it a little bit.”
Still, there’s not likely to be the revenge-filled fracas that was the Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders game on Feb. 11, which resulted in 23 games worth of suspensions. NHL commissioners Gary Bettman already warned Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier against such an incident happening tonight, TSN.ca reports.
“Everybody talks about revenge and what’s going to happen – and the build-up,” said Milan Lucic told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m sure they’re saying the most important thing for them is getting the two points, and I’m sure for them the most important is getting the two points because they’re right behind us in the standings.”
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (41-27-5) at Nashville Predators (39-25-10), 8 p.m. ET
This game could mark the return of Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who missed 15 consecutive games and 17 games total with vertigo. He was activated Wednesday and backed up Ray Emery in the Ducks’ 4-3 OT victory over Dallas. Hiller was a contender for the Vezina Trophy before his bout with dizziness forced him onto the IR. The Preds will counter with Pekka Rinne, whose goals-against average (2.07) is second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas this season.
GOLF WATCH: The Ottawa Senators will need a victory to avoid elimination. The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers are already mathematically eliminated.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 23, 2011 4:26 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight.
ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Anaheim Ducks (40-27-5) at Dallas Stars (38-25-9), 8:30 p.m. ET
The Ducks and Stars are part of a three-way tie with the Calgary Flames for eighth place in the Western Conference. (With more wins, Anaheim officially holds that final playoff spot at the moment.) The Ducks have won three in a row and have taken three of the first four meetings between these two clubs.
The Stars could get Loui Eriksson, out the last two games with a concussion, back tonight, The Dallas Morning News reports. Eriksson will need to be cleared by the team physician under the league’s new concussion guidelines. This is the final game of a seven-game homestand for the Stars, their longest of the season. Ray Emery, who is 2-0 with a .972 save percentage, will likely get the not in net for the Ducks. The Stars will counter with Kari Lehtonen.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Calgary Flames (37-27-11) at San Jose Sharks (42-23-8), 10 p.m. ET
The Flames have played more games than any other club in the NHL (75), so points are even more crucial down the stretch. Calgary left points on the table in both games against California’s other two teams in an OT loss to the Ducks on Sunday and a shootout loss to the Kings on Monday. The Sharks have won two of the first three meetings between these two clubs. Calder Trophy candidate Logan Couture will be in the lineup a game after he took a scary spill into the boards, The Mercury News reports.
GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers won't get any new company tonight.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images