Its no secret that the Senators will be looking for a back-up goalie to fill in for Craig Anderson once a week or so. This goalie will be strictly a backup, as should Anderson get hurt, Robin Lehner would be called up to assume the #1 role for the duration of Anderson’s injury. Lehner could be an option as the backup, but the Senators really want him to be playing a bulk of the games for a season, and the place for him to do that is Binghamton.
The Senators do not want to spend a ton on a backup, so the upper limit would probably be around the $1 million mark, for argument’s sake.
So, while a lot of the July 1st attention will be on the likes of Tomas Vokoun, Dwayne Roloson and Ray Emery, Ottawa will not be in the market for any of those players. Given the free agents that will be on the market come Friday, who are the ones that could be a good fit in Ottawa? Here is a 6-pack of the top options, in my opinion.
The veteran has plenty of NHL experience, and although not always sporting a good record, he has shown flashes of being a quality goalie, and is a more than capable backup. He is 34 years old and made $925,000 in each of the last two seasons with the Flyers.
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 2 yrs, 1.9 million
The former backup to Roberto Luongo has played the last two seasons for Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. In 81 games with the Bulldogs, Sanford has a record of 43-24-5. In 108 NHL appearances, his record is 37-37-11 with a GAA of 2.76.
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 2 yrs, 1.4 million
The 35 year old veteran is on the downside of his career, and after a miserable experience in Chicago might be resigned to being a backup if he wants to continue his career. With Corey Crawford installed as the #1 guy, Turco could be looking to move on. Ottawa would offer an opportunity to continue his career in his home country & home province. He finished last year with a .500 record (11-11-3)
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 1 year, $1 million
Things really haven’t worked out as a starter for the Avalanche goalie, who had a hard time competing with Brian Elliot for the starting job near the end of the season. He seems to have more success in limited playing time, and when he plays in 35 games or less, he has a record at .500 or above every season. When his workload grows, his performance declines.
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 2 yrs, $1.75 million
Having served as the backup goalie in St. Louis for the past two seasons, Conklin is aware of the requirements of the position. He is another 35 year old veteran who has limited time left, and much like Turco, might be looking to extend his career for a year or two. Had a .5oo record as a Blue, but his GAA last season of 3.22 is a little troublesome.
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 1 year, $1 million
A highly touted prospect was caught in a goaltending mess in Edmonton, and was a member of a trifecta of goaltenders, which probably hurt his development. Deslauriers hasn’t got a consistent shot in the NHL, so he would be a gamble. He did play 45 games with a bad Edmonton team in 2009-10 but his numbers were not good. Is that attributable to the team, or to his talent level?
PROJECTED CONTRACT: 2 yrs, $1.6 million
So while not a lot of big names, the backup goaltender role is not one that requires a big name. The best option would be to find someone who knows their role and is a team player. Someone who can handle sitting around and only getting one or two starts every couple of week, while working hard in practice every day. Who is this player?
I would suggest that Peter Budaj would be the best fit. He played for assistant coach Dave Cameron for 2 pretty successful seasons in junior with the St. Michael’s Majors, and he worked alongside Craig Anderson for the better part of 2 seasons. Aside from competing for starts, I never heard anything negative about their relationship in Colorado. Budaj has probably come to the realization that he is not a number one goalie in the NHL, and that it is his destiny to be a backup goalie who gets 15-20 starts a season.
Aside from the names mentioned, the FA list includes Chris Osgood, JS Giguere, Mike Smith, Johan Hedberg, Mathieu Garon and Josh Harding. Most of these would be more expensive options, who would also be expecting more starts. Also available are former Sens Patrick Lalime, Mike Brodeur, Brian Elliott and Curtis McElhinney. Other than Brodeur, these players were basically run out of town, so they wouldn’t be realistic options.
I think Peter Budaj is the way to go, that is if Brian Elliott didn’t sour him on the Ottawa club after being shipped from the Sens to Colorado last season.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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