Friday marked the opening of the free agency period for the NHL and an amazing number of players signed contracts. The final number was in the mid-60’s and we’ll take a look back through all the movement and explain how it impacts teams from a fantasy standpoint.
In this segment, we’ll start with the goaltenders and discuss their impacts. You can view all of the signings here.
Evgeni Nabokov stays with the Islanders. SPIN: He was an underrated goalie heading into 2013 and should be a solid contributor on fantasy teams in the coming season.
Ray Emery leaves Chicago and heads to Philadelphia. Yann Danis goes from Edmonton to Philadelphia. SPIN: The Flyers’ goaltending situation is going to be one of the biggest stories in the off-season. They paid Ilya Bryzgalov a king’s ransom to piss off. Steve Mason will be in the running for the starting job but Philly needs to find an identity in goal, quickly. Emery realized it was time to leave when Corey Crawford got all of the ice time in the finals and pretty much the entire run to the Stanley Cup title.
Jason LaBarbera goes from Phoenix to Edmonton. Nikolai Khabibulin moves from Edmonton to Chicago. SPIN: These two moves seem to indicate that the Oilers must feel comfortable with Devan Dubnyk on a full-time basis and he should get about 65-70 starts next season. LaBarbera is an adequate backup good for a matchup-driven start but isn’t at the level where you’d want to put all your hopes on him.
Tomas Greiss stays in the division, going to Phoenix from San Jose. SPIN: Greiss has a clear path to the backup job in Phoenix behind Mike Smith. Smith signed a six-year deal about 10 days ago so Phoenix still has a solid goaltender in net. Who seems to get hurt quite a bit. Smith will be the workhorse for the team and Greiss should be an adequate backup.
Dan Ellis leaves Carolina for a second stint in Dallas. Anton Khudobin departs Boston and chooses Carolina. SPIN: Ellis heads back to the team that drafted him in the second round. He should slot right into the backup role behind Kari Lehtonen and could be a legitimate goaltender to own in fantasy. Lehtonen has made more than 60 starts in a season twice in his career so Ellis can have value as a backup.
In Carolina, Khudobin gives a solid option as a backup goaltender to Cam Ward. Khudobin went 9-4-1 with a 2.32 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Those numbers were better than anything a Carolina goaltender posted last season. He might even contend for the starting role but training camp is still two months off. Khudobin has been a safe pick among backup goaltenders and his best chance to appear on a fantasy roster is handcuffing Ward. Keep in mind how the Carolina defense didn’t give Ward much help on second and third chances which wound up in the back of the net.
Other moves were made with goaltenders who have little to no fantasy relevance and will not be mentioned here.
There still are four goaltenders available as of now that could have some impact on fantasy hockey. Tim Thomas sat out last season and anchored Boston to a championship two seasons ago. Johan Hedberg of the Devils is available but performed poorly when Martin Brodeur missed time with a back injury last season. Jose Theodore is still on the market but will have difficulty finding a home after a lousy season on South Beach. Bryzgalov is out there too but my spidey sense tells me teams have had enough of him and he might be the odd man out. Remember that he has bounced through Anaheim and Phoenix before getting booted by the Flyers and made some unusual comments before so he might be a couple pucks short of a full bag. That kind of action can be a big factor on whether someone picks him up before the season starts.