This unrestricted free agency period saw quite a number of goaltenders shuffle around the league. Even before July 1st, we saw a couple transactions which landed starters in new locations. Scott Darling was moved from Chicago to Carolina. Mike Smith was traded from Arizona to Calgary. Los Angeles was forced to deal Ben Bishop to Dallas or lose him for nothing in expansion. Antti Raanta was shipped from the New York Rangers to Arizona. And Vegas got a former 1st-overall and veteran keeper in Marc-Andre Fleury after all was said and done. Then, on July 1st, Brian Elliott signed with the Philadelphia Flyers to run a tandem with Michal Neuvirth, while former Flyer Steve Mason signed the biggest goalie deal of the off-season ($4.1 MM AAV) to play net for Winnipeg.
In terms of backups, former ’Pegger Ondrej Pavelec signed on to play a meaningful role for the Rangers behind the aging Henrik Lundqvist. Jonathan Bernier may have been the biggest loser of the day – after winning 21 of his 33 games in Anaheim, he will settle for playing second fiddle in Colorado behind Semyon Varlamov. Antti Niemi signed on to back up Matt Murray after being bought out from Dallas, and at the tender age of 37, Ryan Miller will slot behind John Gibson in Anaheim.
With all this movement, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track. Goaltending is ultimately the foundation for any team’s success, regular season or playoffs. Each of these names has seen struggles, but also past success. Which will rally to the occasion, and which will fall short of living up to their contracts and expectations? Who posts the best save percentage? The most wins? And will any of the backups usurp the starting tenders?
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