The goalie market this offseason was a busy one, with many teams looking to address their needs, but seeming to find less options than there were spots to fill. Some teams who had the need for several years were able to finally address it, like the Edmonton Oilers signing of All Star Jack Campbell and the New Jersey Devils acquisition of Vitek Vanecek. Some who found out rather abruptly that they would be needing help in net, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost Campbell, addressed it by signing Ilya Samsonov and acquiring Matt Murray. Others, who didn’t seem to be in urgent need of goalie help went out and found it anyways, like the Ottawa Senators with Cam Talbot and the Washington Capitals with Darcy Kuemper.
With all the shuffling, it seems many teams are now set in goal, or at least hope that they are. But, just as the demand maybe subsides, the supply on next year’s market will be rather rich. There appears to only be one star that will be available, that being Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry, but after that, a bevy of veteran backstops, capable of being a quality starting goalies, will be on the market. Joining them are a large group of capable backups like Jonathan Bernier, Laurent Brossoit, Jaroslav Halak, and Antti Raanta, as well as a pair of intriguing, less experienced options like Adin Hill and Alex Nedeljkovic.
But, it’s this group of veterans who could pose an interesting shuffle, obtaining potentially very similar contracts based on their performance this season. Of course, the 2022-23 campaign will have a major impact on their value heading into the offseason, but for now, a compare and contrast of these five similar options could be an interesting exercise.
Contract: Two years, $5.75MM ($2.875MM AAV)
2021-22 Stats: 35 GP, 9-20-4, 2 SHO, .905 SV%, 3.30 GAA
Career Stats: 353 GP, 168-126-35, 23 SHO, .911 SV%, 2.60 GAA
Once considered one of the most exciting goalie prospects of his generations, Allen never panned out as a superstar in net, however he has become a reliable starting and backup goalie, depending on the role he’s put in. Allen spent his first seven NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues, earning the majority of playing time between 2015-2018, but a surprising breakout performance from Jordan Binnington in 2018-19 pushed Allen into a backup role. After the 2019-20 season, with one year at $4.35MM left on his contract, the Blues shipped Allen to the Montreal Canadiens for a pair of seventh round picks.
His numbers since heading north of the border haven’t been what they once were, but the real regression came when the team around him regressed in 2021-22. Allen’s next deal may very well resemble the one he signed in the 2021 offseason, but a strong rebound performance, considering the context of how the Canadiens perform around him, could increase not only increase his AAV, but also the term for the 32-year-old.
Contract: Two years, $9MM ($4.5MM AAV)
2021-22 Stats: 52 GP, 35-14-3, 4 SHO, .922 SV%, 2.17 GAA
Career Stats: 445 GP, 261-114-51, 23 SHO, .916 SV%, 2.59 GAA
A four-time All Star and two-time Jennings Trophy winner, receiving one of each in 2021-22, the answer might seem obvious that Andersen would sign the biggest free agent deal of any goaltender in 2023, even better than Jarry. But, the former Maple Leafs star netminder doesn’t come without his concerns and that could hamper his open-market potential. After breaking out with the Anaheim Ducks from 2013-2016, Andersen was dealt to Toronto where he continued to develop into one of the league’s best, posting three straight seasons of at least 60 starts and no less than a .917 SV%.
The success, however, began to taper off and in 2019-20, Andersen regressing slightly to a .909 SV% and 2.85 GAA. The 2020-21 season would be no better, his numbers dropping to a .895 SV% and 2.96 GAA as the veteran dealt with injuries. Ultimately, Campbell took over the net for Toronto and that offseason, Andersen was left to hit free agency, signing his current deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. The goalie found tremendous rebound success in Carolina and was even receiving Vezina Trophy consideration before injuries ended his season on April 16th, just weeks before the playoffs were set to begin. If Andersen can continue his strong performance and show that injuries are a thing of the past, he may be the runaway favorite in this poll, but it’s been several years since the soon-to-be 33-year-old has compiled a fully-healthy season.
Contract: Ten years, $58MM ($5.8MM AAV)
2021-22 Stats: 46 GP, 23-13-9, 2 SHO, .910 SV%, 2.59 GAA
Career Stats: 712 GP, 359-262-78, 56 SHO, .913 SV%, 2.42 GAA
An unlikely name on this list for several reasons, Quick re-emerged as an important piece in net for the Los Angeles Kings as the team itself awoke from a semi-lengthy rebuild in 2021-22. Quick still wasn’t the star he had been from 2009-2017, but after several seasons of poor play and injuries, it was a return to being the steady presence in net that the Kings had historically expected from the 36-year-old. Los Angeles had been hoping to transition the net from Quick to Calvin Petersen, especially after giving the younger netminder a three-year, $15MM contract set to begin this season, but Petersen’s struggles have given Quick new opportunity and thus new life.
Turning 37 in January, with recent history considered, even another strong showing is unlikely to propel Quick to a big payday, but if he can show that he’ll be among those goaltenders who age gracefully, his long resume as a reliable, two-time Cup winning goaltender will reward him in free agency.
Contract: Three years, $11MM ($3.667MM AAV)
2021-22 Stats: 49 GP, 32-12-4, 3 SHO, .911 SV%, 2.76 GAA
Career Staats: 396 GP, 201-142-34, 27 SHO, .915 SV%, 2.63 GAA
After several up-and-down seasons in a few cities after his trade from the New York Rangers, Cam Talbot appeared to finally settle in and take the next step with the Minnesota Wild in 2020-21, sharing the net with Kaapo Kahkonen. But, 2021-22 threw a wrinkle into the equation by no fault of Talbot, as the team dealt Kahkonen to the San Jose Sharks and brought in future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wild in turn gave the majority of the playing time to Fleury, leaving Talbot to back up. Talbot had hoped to remain in Minnesota and show he could take the net back, but after Minnesota chose to re-sign Fleury, Talbot was shipped to the Ottawa Senators, where he figures to see the bulk of playing time.
Turning 36 next July, Talbot may not see the term some of the other goalies on this list might be able to find, but much like Quick, proof he can age well in the role may ultimately work in his favor. The key for Talbot will be to show, besides his ability to age well, that his up and down career is no more, and that the solid performance in the State of Hockey was not merely an extended “up,” but is instead the new normal for the University of Alabama-Huntsville product.
Contract: Four years, $20MM ($5MM AAV)
2021-22 Stats: 31 GP, 10-17-2, 2 SHO, .911 SV%, 2.91 GAA
Career Stats: 560 GP, 261-211-62, 36 SHO, .916 SV%, 2.64 GAA
When the New York Islanders allowed Robin Lehner to walk after a breakout season where he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist in order to sign Varlamov, many around the hockey world raised their eyebrows. As good as Lehner has been, the decision to bring in Varlamov has paid dividends on Long Island, as the veteran teamed up with Thomas Greiss and later his fellow countryman Ilya Sorokin to create a formidable tandem in net. However over the life of the deal, Varlamov’s role has diminished, going from a starter to something closer to a backup. Part of that has been out of Varlamov’s control with the emergence of Sorokin as one of the league’s better goalies, but 2021-22 did Varlamov no favors either.
Though his numbers were not objectively bad, it was a step back from the player he had been the two years prior. A rebound from Varlamov, especially one that forces the Islanders’ hand to take time from Sorokin and give it to the veteran will certainly boost his value on the open market. Turning 35 in the spring and still capable of taking a significant slate of games in net for a team, Varlamov will have plenty of interest on the open market, but securing the largest deal out of these five will require a performance more similar to what we saw in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Considering these options, who is most likely to find the biggest contract on the open market? All are legitimate NHL goaltenders likely capable of holding their own net in 2023-24 and beyond, though none are considered stars. Andersen may be the closest to a star, however his recent injury struggles could make teams wary. If it’s durability a team is looking for, Varlamov might be a safer bet, but recent performance is trending in the opposite direction, albeit not enough to scare an organization off. Either way, 2022-23 will go a long way to understanding what this market becomes, but entering the new season, who sits in the best position?
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