The NHL offseason is in full swing, and this year goaltending was an issue to be addressed for many GM’s. There was no shortage of moves, panic or otherwise, and a few that left people scratching their head more than when we asked who the new guy coaching Detroit is. Either way some teams made some improvements, some took a gamble, and some just needed somebody to play. With that said, here’s a look at some of the major moves between the pipes.
The Sens and Leafs made one of the biggest moves of the offseason, as the Sens sent Matt Murray and a pair of mid/late round draft pick to their rival while retaining 25% of his salary in exchange for future considerations. As the guys discussed on the show, getting this salary off the books was one of several huge wins for Pierre Dorion this offseason and freed up the cap space to sign Claude Giroux. Kyle Dubas, on the other hand, is banking, perhaps his job, on Matt Murray bouncing back and returning to his Stanley Cup form. The last few years say otherwise, but when healthy Murray did have some really solid stretches in Ottawa. His health however, has been the issue, and even if he performs as expected, is he really a significant upgrade on the outgoing Jack Campbell? Time will tell, but you know all eyes will be on him this season.
After acquiring Matt Murray, the Leafs then added Ilya Samsonov to back up/challenge him for the number one spot. This seems like less of a gamble given his very reasonable $1.8 million cap hit, and the Leafs have had issues with back up goaltending for years, so you have to think it’s an improvement in that regard, however, ultimately neither is a sure thing, which leads us to…
The Leafs (and specifically their fans) couldn’t get this guy out of town fast enough. Much maligned by media and supporters alike at times, Petr Mrazek just never seemed to find his way in Toronto (3.34 GAA. .888 sv%). It seemed inevitable they had to move on, so in a shrewd bit of business Kyle Dubas was able to unload his salary (with an accompanying 1st round pick) to Chicago for a second round pick. This seemed like a prudent move for both teams and will give him a fresh start, though in front of what will be a very young and inexperienced rebuilding Blackhawks team.
Pierre Dorion continued to overhaul his line up, after off-loading Matt Murray’s contract he brought in Cam Talbot, a veteran presence to form a solid tandem with Anton Forsberg, whom they signed to a three year deal. Talbot is more cost effective than Murray and should provide a steady presence when called upon. Going the other way was young netminder Filip Gustavsson who is more cost effective for the cap challenged Wild, and was seemingly the odd man out in Ottawa with several up and comers in Belleville pushing for a spot. Talbot is a competitive guy so you can imagine there’ll be a healthy competition for the starting role. Ottawa got some stability late in the season with goaltending last year, after struggling early due to injuries and inconsistency. A full season with this solid tandem could really help push them forward.
After getting the entire Mike Smith Experience last playoff, the Oilers decided to bring in some help. Jack Campbell should provide a steady presence, and has shown, despite the series losses, they last two years he has held his own in the post season (14 gms, 2.45 gaa, .915 sv%). Though some are, understandably, questioning the five year term, he’s had solid numbers the last two years in Toronto and as long as he’s able to stay healthy, should help the Oilers moving forward. They need to had some blue line help in front of him, and showed at times they played with more structure last season. If they can replicate that performance, given the turmoil in the Pacific, they could be ready for another deep playoff run.
The Washington – Colorado goalie carousel continues as, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory, Kuemper took the pay day in DC and joins a Caps squad looking to maximize what time they have left with their aging core. He may not be able to turn back the clock, and certainly won’t have Colorado’s vaunted blue line playing in front of him, but should provide some stability to a team who has lacked it at the position since Braden Holtby and his beard lead them to a Stanley Cup.
The champs lost their starter for a second consecutive season but as with last year, moved quickly to fill the void. They sent a 3rd and 5th round pick to the Rangers, which depending on how he plays, could wind up being a steal. A back up in NY (which wasn’t going to change any time soon) and a highly touted young netminder coming up through their system, he’ll get the opportunity with a team in front of him that which should require him only needing to be ‘good enough’ and they’ll be poised to make another deep run.
For the second straight offseason the YzerPlan incorporated adding a goaltender into the mix, giving the Red Wings a decent tandem. Husso was much sought after so this has to be considered a big win for Detroit. Husso had a solid stint with the Blues, though some will point to a slight stumble in the playoffs, many feel there was a decent enough sample size in season to reasonably know what you can expect from him. Will this change playing behind a less experienced blue line in the motor city? Time will tell. They now have two young options with him and Alex Nedeljkovic, and he’ll get the chance to see if he can truly take over the number one spot and run with it.
With Mackenzie Blackwood struggling last year, the Devils went out and tried to shore up the position bringing in Vanecek on a three year deal (3.4m/per). He hasn’t been a true number one, and should platoon, but gives them a solid second option at a fairly reasonable price, should they need it. Ideally for them Blackwood becomes the goalie they expected and he is simply the number two, but it’s always best to be prepared. Many point to the Devils solid underlying numbers last season being sunk by their awful goaltending, so with their young stars having another year under their belt, and a few other additions, if he can help provide some stability, they could push for a wild card spot.