The Best Goalies Money Can Buy

Do you remember the times?  Yes, the times!

You know those times.  The times when your team was looking for a capable goaltender during the offseason?  So they’d sign a guy to stop vulcanized rubber during the offseason with the expectation that he’d come in and stop pucks?

And that’d be it? You know, he’d just stop pucks, and that’d be all?

Nikolai Khabibulin - Actually wore an Oiler sweater once. Photo courtesy NHL.com

Nikolai Khabibulin’s signing to the Edmonton Oilers caused a mixed reaction due to his contract (3.75M for 4 years for a 36 year old netminder), and that fear was echoed once he sustained a season ending back injury before his 18th game played. While Khabibulin may still be a viable option for 50 games when healthy, his offseason unknowns may keep him from being anything productive with Edmonton at all.  The 2004 Stanley Cup winner’s “extreme DUI” charge will be answered in an Arizona court in just over a week, and his career may hang in the balance.

But don’t fret, young people.  The team has two capable goalies in minty-fresh Devan Dubnyk and freshly going-to-arbitration Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.  And that may be an issue.  Deslauriers was thrown into the fire last season after Khabibulin went down with his season ending back injury, and Dubnyk…well, Dubnyk was part of that infamous losing streak that consumed much of January.

Can Dubnyk and Deslauriers join together as one giant goaltender superforce and somehow patch this team to .500 this year?

The answer is: probably not. The team as a whole will grow a little bit, and struggle a ton. Barring an epic performance by two or three first year Oilers, I don’t think anyone is predicting a playoff series in Edmonton this year. That being said, if Nikolai Khabibulin is somehow prevented from playing for the team (or otherwise not in an Oiler uniform this coming season), I’d seriously consider bringing in a stop-gap netminder so that Deslauriers or Dubnyk aren’t consistently getting shelled out of their minds night after night. Things here get even hairier now that Devan Dubnyk was signed for two years with a one-way contract. Should Deslauriers be awarded a one-way deal in arbitration, it would significantly cramp the Oilers’ logisitcs of acquiring a free agent goaltender.

Who’s available? (with 09-10 cap hit listed)

Jose Theodore – UFA (4.5M)
The 33 year old Jose Theodore would only be a viable option to Edmonton if he’d be willing to take a big pay cut to start. The 2002 Vezina and Hart Trophy winner finished near his career best in SV% (.911) going 30-7-7 for a red-hot Capitals team that faltered in the first round of the playoffs.

Ray Emery – UFA (1.5M)
A much more economical option compared to Theodore, Emery filled in well enough (16-11-1, 2.85 GAA and .905 SV%) with Philadelphia before his season was cut short by an ankle injury. The often hot-headed Emery could be a temporary solution for the Oilers, injuries and locker room sanity may throw a fork into this option

Wade Dubielewicz – UFA (600K)
A guy who played well enough for the Islanders in their miracle playoff run of 2007 while Rick DiPietro was off the ice nursing an injury. “Dubie” was a key factor in Long Island’s stretch leading up to the playoffs, however he’s been used rarely since that season, only appearing in 26 total NHL games. I’d like his veteran presence, but don’t know if signing him would make an difference. He’d be worth an invite.

Ondrej Pavalec – RFA (1.43M)
A 22 year old guy who could be a legit number one for most teams – Pavalec is currently a restricted free agent on a suspect squad in Atlanta. I’d be interested in seeing him if the price is right. Pavalec was on the ice for 42 total games, went 14-18-7 with a .906 SV% and a 3.29 GAA. These numbers look a little similar to one goalie in the fold already

Pavalec – 14-18-7, .906SV%, 3.29 GAA
Deslauriers- 16-28-4 .901SV%, 3.26 GAA

…but Pavalaec is a full four years younger than Deslauriers. Atlanta has 34 year old Chris Mason under contract for one more season, and it will be interesting to see how the Pavalec situation plays out.

However likely or not, if Deslauriers wins his arbitration hearing, he’d probably be making $1M on a one way deal, and if Edmonton doesn’t flat out walk away from it, it’ll be difficult signing another goaltender to a squad with two one way contracts.

So what do you think?

Topics: Contracts, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Nikolai Khabibulin

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