So its been a fine and respectable run for the Devils this year after the horrible start, and what is of course enjoyable is the promise for next year that the 2nd half surge has provided. However, there is now a big change on the way for us in just one season and 9 games, the likely end of the Marty Brodeur era. My wife swears I will be crying for days. Marty still seems to be in great shape, so who knows, maybe he signs a short deal and plays beyond his current contract. But some of his comments lead me to believe he will just play out the current one and hang them up before he starts to slip. The guy has been everything anyone can ask for, so I feel a bit weird in a way having the discussion, but I guess I just decided to see what everyone thought.
There have been a few discussions around goaltending future. I thought about this when I saw an article about Bryzgalov and Vokoun both being available after this year. So who is available after 2012, given that it does not look like we have the guy in our system - Frazee has had injury issues from what i have read and in general just seems to have not stepped up yet. So who will be available after the 11/12 season? Note - all contract terms per Capgeek.
First off there will be only 4 current goalies of significance who are free agents in 2012, when Marty's contract is up. They are Tukka Rask (RFA), Ondrej Pavlec (RFA), Carey Price (RFA) and Pekka Rinne. Pekka is the only UFA. So one might think that a pot of gold is waiting for Rinne, who currently has a cap hit of abou $3.4 million and that the Devils, if interested could face alot of competition. But when looking at it team by team, i'm not so sure the Devils might not be in a very good place should they decide to get in the bidding for Rinne
Regarding the 3 RFA, my guess would be all are likely to end up with their teams, certainly Price, unless he implodes next year.
Rinne could resign with Nashville - I have alot of respect for that team and Poile seems like an outstanding GM. But given their ownership flux, and the fact that they probably have a pretty tight budget, they probably cant afford to give Rinne much of a raise. So there has to be at least a pretty good likelihood he is moving.
So the next question is, who might the Devils be competing with. Things can of course change due to injury, or perhaps trades, but the below teams seem to be completely set at goalie till beyond 2012, because they have a solid goalie under contract through then at a relatively high price tag
- Penguins - Fleury through '15
- Rangers - Lundqvist throuth '14
- Sabres - Miller through '14
- Senators - Anderson through '15 (this one is a bit questionable since he is only $3.2 million) but given their immediate contract extension, seems like he is their guy
- Hurricanes - Ward through '16
- St. Louis - Halak through '14
- Canucks - Luongo through forever
- Flames - Kipper through '14
- Wild - Backstrom through '13
- Sharks - Niemi through '15
- Ducks - Hiller through '14
So that takes 11 teams out right off the bat. I suppose there are a few teams you could take issue with, but bottom line is that I don't think those 11 teams will be competition because they have a goalie they have committed to who appears to be solid
Next group of teams with special circumstances that I think will not put them in the market
- Bruins - have the combination of already having Thomas under contract through '13, plus Rask as an RFA next year. Seems unlikely that they don't feel their goalie answer is on the team now
- Islanders - DiPietro contract. Unless the guy retires (unlikely) they are stuck with him. I can't see them able to dump him in the minors in their financial situation. so they wont have the dough
- Canadiens - Price is an RFA after '12, but he has certainly panned out this year and the team already showed its committment to him when they dumped Halak. Would have to melt down completely next year to be in the market
- Redwings - Howard is signed through '13, but only at $2.3 million. Still, seems they are committed to him (though they went after Nabokov)
- Oilers - have Habibulin through '13 on an over 35 contract. So that screws them.
- Kings - probably wont have huge dollars to spend given the signings they have coming up and also they seem very committed to Bernier long term. Quick has been very solid. Can't see them in the market
Next group - teams that have to make a decision after this season. So unless they go for a one year stopgap, wont be in the market after the '12 season
- Maple Leafs - Giguere and his huge salary are up this year, and Riemer, who has been impressive is an RFA. So since they have alot of dough, they are likely to either try to land Vokoun or Bryz, or tie up a pretty good deal of money and commitment in Riemer
- Capitals - Varlamov is RFA this year. They also have some cap space coming off so seems like they might want to settle this position, but maybe not. If their goalie situation deteriorated alot next year, they could end up being a competitor
- LIghtning - Nobody signed beyond this year. Team is built to win pretty soon. Would not expect them to go Stopgap next year
- Black Hawks - Crawford has been stellar and is an RFA. I expect they will try to tie him up
- Coyotes - either re-sign Bryz or find another guy to replace him. I would not expect them to go short term route. Also, obviously hugely in flux with ownership.
Final group, those who financially probably can't make a great offer
- Dallas - expecially with Lehtonen signed through 13. They could trade him, but they are clearly in cost control mode and I could not see them spending much more than the $3.6 they spend now
- Colorado - they also kind of have to make a decision this year, plus they seem to be in financial straights too
- Nashville themselves - as noted above, seems like they lose alot of guys to bigger contracts. He could give them a hometown discount
- Columbus - already tied down with Mason through '13, and even if they dealt him probably not enough in the budget
- Florida - can't see them being a serious destination. Plus they will either already re-sign Vokoun (wouldn't they have traded him if they did not think a pretty good chance to re-sign?)
- Atlanta - another team that seems to have to keep the spending tight given its lack of fan base. Plus, as noted, Pavelec will be an RFA in '12. If they let him go he would reduce the demand for other gusy
The above is probably a bit overly simplified - goalies move around alot, somebody could get hurt and create a need. But my overall point was simply that for 2012, even though there might not be alot of UFA on the market, the other side of that coin is that there are likely not alot of teams in the market. The only team that I see as an almost unquestioned bidder along with the Devils are the Flyers. Maybe Washington joins that mix too.
So that's my take. Would love to hear the flaws in the above