Capped: Assessing the Goaltending Market

by Alexander MacLean on May 16, 2019
  • Capped
  • Capped: Assessing the Goaltending Market

 

A little over a year ago I put together some contract predictions for the bigger names up for new contracts. Here we are going to look at a similar set. It appears that there are six main goalies heading for new contracts this summer, and by my count, six spots in which they would fit best. That being said, Florida is not one of the locations, and with that being the most talked about landing spot for Sergei Bobrovsky, something else would have to shake loose to fill that hole.

The six teams who should have a goalie high on their offseason priority list includes:

 

Calgary – Mike Smith wasn’t able to do his team any favours in the playoffs. Look for Calgary to replace him in tandem with David Rittich next season.

 

Carolina – Petr Mrazek played himself into a big payday, possibly elsewhere. The Hurricanes may look to the market to fill the void.

 

Chicago – Cam Ward will likely be cut loose, and Corey Crawford’s concussion woes are troubling. A platoon starter is necessary.

 

Columbus – With Bobrovsky set to test the market, either Joonas Korpisalo will step up, or a starter will come from outside the organization.

 

Edmonton – New GM Ken Holland stated he would be looking for a second goalie.

 

New York (Islanders) – With the Isles set to see Lehner test free-agency they will look to re-sign or replace him in a tandem with Tomas Greiss.

 

Now let’s take a look through the starters.

 

****

Sergei Bobrovsky

Best fits: Calgary, Columbus, Florida (apparently)

Expiring Cap Hit: $7,425,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $10,000,000 – Seven years

We are not sure whether Bobrovsky is looking for a contending team with which to win the Cup, or if he is more interested in which city he ends up living in. Either way, he is the best goalie on the market, and will get paid. Carey Price’s $10.5 million cap hit serves as a solid benchmark, especially considering inflation and the open market prices. Bobrovsky should be worth the money, especially in the early years. Cap league owners can rest easy knowing their number one goaltender won’t immediately become useless to them.

As for the NHL team rostering Bobrovsky in the fall, they will be very happy having a work-horse starter. If this does end up being in Florida, that crease becomes extremely crowded. In an ideal world, that is where Bob lands, with James Reimer whisked away in a trade, and Roberto Luongo riding off into the sunset. Having a duo of Bobrovsky and youngster Samuel Montembeault would be great for the Panthers.

Otherwise, penciling Bobrovsky’s name into either the Columbus or Calgary lineup solidifies their spot as a contender for years to come.

 

****

Robin Lehner

Best fits: New York Islanders, Edmonton, Columbus

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,500,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $5,000,000 – Four years

Lehner’s best fit is likely a team that has him come in for 50 starts as a 1A alongside another solid goaltender. Betting on himself with a one-year contract, Lehner has earned the future contract and the role of a 1A with his play from this past season. With some term on his next deal, he should be happy with a total around $20 million.

Expect a bit of a regression from Lehner next year, especially if he signs away from New York (and Barry Trotz). That being said, he can still put up top 10 goalie numbers in the right situation, and at a $5 million cap hit, he will continue to be good value for fantasy league owners.

 

****

Petr Mrazek

Best fits: Carolina, New York, Edmonton

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,500,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $4,000,000 – Three years

Petr Mrazek will likely be targeted by all the same teams as Lehner, after taking an identical $1.5 million contract last summer, and also vastly outperforming the value of it. Mrazek didn’t do as well as Lehner this past season, but that is comparing to quite a high bar. His recent play in the playoffs has left something to be desired, and may cost him a little off his next contract.

Carolina continues to be a fit due to the familiarity, and as a cap conscious team, Mrazek may be closer to their budget than the two mentioned above, and could hold the crease until Alex Nedeljkovic (or one of their other youngsters) is ready to take over.

 

****

Cam Talbot

Best fits: Calgary, Chicago, New York

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,500,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $2,000,000 – Two years

The best fit for Talbot would be somewhere that he can fit into a 1B role, starting 30 or so games on the year. He didn’t do himself any favours by underperforming in a contract year, and the trade to Philadelphia, who barely played him, was not good for his value.

Betting on himself like what Lehner and Mrazek did could pay off on a one-year deal, however with his twin girls, and the disappointing end to last season, his priority should be a two-year deal. This would be a deal fitting of a backup, and production similar to a league average backup is about the best we can expect at this point.

 

****

Mike Smith

Best fits: Calgary, Chicago, New York

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,500,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $3,000,000 – Two years

As with Cam Talbot, Mike Smith will likely enter the season in the role of a 1B, expected to start around 35-40 games next year. He has made his money to this point in his career and will now be chasing a Stanley Cup. Returning to Calgary is not out of the question, but a change of scenery could do him well after this year’s early exit. Smith’s value will be largely tied to his contract cost and the situation he ends up in.

Chicago seems to be trying to squeeze what they can out of their aging core, so adding another short-term asset wouldn’t be far outside of the realm of possibility. That being said, New York may make the most sense, as they don’t need the most expensive option, just someone who can play a reliable game behind their system until top prospect Ilya Sorokin (or Linus Soderstrom) is ready.

 

****

Semyon Varlamov

Best fits: Calgary, Columbus, Carolina

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,500,000

Prediction Cap Hit: $4,500,000 – Four years

Being 31, this may be his last chance to get a larger contract, so on one hand a longer-term deal may be preferable, but on the other hand betting on himself with a one-year deal couple provide a handsome reward. The smart money is on the madness of July 1st causing a multi-year contract being thrown Varlamov’s way.

He will end up in Calgary if the Flames decide they want to move on from Smith by adding another starter to push Rittich (and don’t get their first choices with Bob or Lehner). Varlamov is a bit of a wildcard, as he has had stretches of dominance, but other stretches of lengthy injury battles and mediocrity. Columbus could also be a fit, as Varlamov would have more of a starter’s role with them, however they will likely want someone with a little more certainty coming in. 

Edmonton is a wildcard destination for the Russian goaltender, as we really don’t know what Ken Holland is going to do with the Oilers, and how much he is going to try to put his own stamp on the team overtop of what is already in place.

Wherever Varlamov ends up, he won’t provide exceptional value, but can be a mediocre second goalie, or a solid third goalie in your average 12-team leagues.

 

****

Previous Capped articles:

Reviewing Hits and Misses – Part 3

Reviewing Potential Buyout Contracts

 

****

 

That caps off this week’s article, thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.