We can all agree that if you don’t have goaltending than you don’t have a team. In fact, teams nowadays you really want two reliable goaltenders, for days off throughout the long season. As a young Las Vegas franchise builds its future the last thing it needs to worry about is bad goaltending.
The question is who’s available? What goaltenders will be unprotected and better yet what stud goaltender wants to sign with a young, building team? When I was Digging through the unrestricted free agency list of 2016-2017, I saw a few good goaltenders that are up for contracts. Which ones would be a good fit in Las Vegas?
Let’s start with the top, the Bolts’ Ben Bishop. Tampa’s run to the Cup finals last year started with Bishops hot play in conference play. Standing at 6’7 ft and only 28 years old, the UMaine standout is a rock. I should just stop now… Bishop won’t be available. I’m sure Tampa will try and lock him down this summer. If they don’t they’re nuts. Moving on.
Next is Flyers goalie Steve Mason. Not a huge name, but a good player. The 2009 rookie of the year winner has done his end of the job in Philadelphia. Sure Mason’s given up some clunkers but I’ve watched two time cup winner Jonathan Quick play poorly too. It happens.
Mason is young, steady and available. Will the Flyers try to extend him over the next year? Possibly, but they could easily move on to someone younger and cheaper. If he’s on the market Mason would be a great transaction for Las Vegas. However, he won’t come cheap, which Foley and company need to keep in mind when building a franchise.
Now comes my dream player to be a free agent but he’ll probably be scooped up by a contending team come trade deadline time in 2016-2017. Ryan Miller is as steady as it comes. I bring up the 16-17 trade deadline because his contract with Vancouver will be up, and the Canucks could be on the outside looking in on postseason play. If Miller impresses a playoff team they may want to re-sign him. Sure he’ll be older, but he would be a great anchor to a young team. Check out what Mike Smith is doing in Arizona. Also I don’t think Miller will cost a ton, but he may be more interested in chasing a cup. That might hurt Las Vegas’ chances.
Now there are more realistic guys like Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, and Thomas Greiss, but they’re backups. If the Leafs pass on extending Jonathan Bernier than he’s a good option. Either way goaltending is important, just ask the 2011 Philadelphia Flyers.