With the Stanley Cup Finals starting tonight, it seems like no better time to start talking about the offseason goalie market. Goaltending always seems to be a priority when dealing with success, during the season, but more importantly, during the playoffs. Goaltending played a major factor in last years NHL Stanley Cup Finals, as Jonathan Quick stole the show, and this year is setting up for a similar situation. Both Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford had sensational seasons for their respected teams.
The swirling rumours of buy outs and trades, the market is already taking shape for teams who are looking at making an offseason move that will catapult their team to the promise land. The NHL has already seen some changes in coaching as well as in the Head Offices meaning there will be hungry money in the waters. General Managers and coaches will be hoping that they can find a key piece in the offseason to create the perfect puzzle.
There are two goalies that are clearly at the top of the totem poll for goalie discussions once the offseason is officially underway: Roberto Luongo and Ilya Bryzgalov. Luongo's name seems to be on a never ending carrousel as once again the rumours will be flying on where he will land. Last year he was 'supposed' to be a Leaf by the start of the season, this year will be a whole new chapter in the Louuu saga that the Canucks have brought upon themselves. Rumour is that Bryz will be bought out in the offseason, meaning the goalie market will have even more big names out there.
Bryzgalov has had a horrible run for the Flyers as Philly looks to be in the market for some classic offseason spending. They have already acquired the rights to D Mark Streit from the Islanders. They will need to make some more moves if they plan on contending for a playoff spot next spring. Goaltending will play a huge factor on the potential for this team.
I am predicting that Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury will find himself in some trade talks this offseason. His play has declined in the last two years, but more importantly, his play in the playoffs has been in question. The Penguins showed that they had some concerns last offseason when they went out and signed veteran G Tomas Vokoun to back up Fleury after his spotty playoffs. This years playoffs was once again a disappointment for the former first overall pick. Fleury is just 28 years old, and is said to have a great relationship with all of his team mates, including star Sidney Crosby. I think that the Oilers could be a major player if the pieces fit. The Oil have a surplus of young talented forwards, and a need to fill their goaltending spot. Dubnyk once again failed to rise to the occasion and it will be no shock if the Oil go out of their way to make a deal sending some young offence to add some defence or a goalie. It will be a shocking move for the Pens to deal Fleury, but I wouldn't necessarily put it out of the picture.
A smaller story to watch will be whether or not Martin Brodeur decides to come back and try one more year in goal, or if he thinks that it's time to move on with his career. He was limited to 29 games as injuries played a major factor of his availability. He will have an interesting decision as the Devils will be under the microscope after missing the playoffs, and after having a fun run on CBC Sports during the playoffs. I think its time for Brodeur to hang up the pads, he should have retired after loosing to the Kings last year in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Its Miller Time! Ryan Miller has yet to perform up to his 2009-2010 numbers when he had a 2.22 GAA and .929 SV%. Each of the passed two years it seems as though Miller is on the trade block. He has shown his frustration with his Sabres team throughout the year, and at the tender age of 32, he is on the decline of his career, but he can still steal a game when needed.
Is Mike Smith who we thought he was? Smith had a fantastic 2011-2012 season for the Coyotes posting a .930 SV% and 2.21 GAA, but 2012-2013 was a different story. He seemed to have troubles staying healthy, and didn't seem like the same Mike Smith of 2011-2012 when he was healthy. It will be fun to see what the GM decides to do with Smith as the Coyotes don't look like they will be in the hunt for a couple of years.
With a new head coach in Colorado, the Avalanche can only go up after last season's horrible accident. Patrick Roy will be at the helm of the ship and with the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, hopes to bring in a NHL ready player to add to the young core. Goaltending has been a major flaw for the Avalanche in the recent years and as Roy used to be a fairly decent goalie back in his day, I'm expecting that goaltending will be a major focal point in the offseason.
There's a quick taste of what to look for going forward! I'm expecting it to be a fun filled offseason, with some blockbusters in the goaltending area. I'm looking forward to releasing my next goalie market update in the near future!
Thanks for reading! Would love to hear your input!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to tweet me @phillipbeneteau