SinBin.vegas has been digging around for any clues heading into tomorrow’s free agency frenzy, and we finally found one. It has become evident the organization feels light in net. With the belief that Vegas will keep Calvin Pickard as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup, and let J.F. Berube walk as a UFA, the team is in need of goalie depth. The Golden Knights are very likely to sign a third goaltender (and possibly a fourth) to a two-way contract allowing him to play in the AHL. Here are some potential free agents that could be putting pen to paper with Vegas next week.
Darcy Kuemper: Minnesota
2016-17 Salary: $1,500,000
Kuemper clearly lost his starting job for good to All-Star Devan Dubnyk. The Kuemperor was once beloved in Minnesota but he’s now looking for a new home. After statistically having his worst season, the Golden Knights could sign the 27-year-old on a two-way deal. Giving Kuemper more action in the AHL could boost his confidence. By signing the five-year veteran the Golden Knights would have incredibly strong depth at net. He’s a slightly more expensive option, but would help fill the gap between 32-year-old Fleury and 25-year-old Pickard.
Sam Brittain: Florida
21016-17 Salary: $750,000
Brittain is far from a household name. In fact, if you don’t follow the AHL or ECHL you’re probably lost. Brittain has never suited up for a pro club but is considered a plausible option for the Golden Knights third goaltender. A two-way contract is guaranteed which will give Vegas the option to shuttle him back and fourth from Chicago. The contract would be a short-term inexpensive agreement to start 5-10 times next season.
Curtis McElhinney: Toronto
2016-17 Salary: $800,000
Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello publicly suggested last week that McElhinney won’t be back with Toronto.
I thought (McElhinney) did an outstanding job for us. No decision has been made at that position. At this point, certainly not much can and will be done, I don’t think, until July 1. We’re going to certainly fill that position whether that’s with Curtis or whoever we feel is the right person that’s available. -Lamoriello
At 34-years-old and 119 games started, it’s safe to say McElhinney won’t be looking for a starting position. The elder statesman would be the perfect candidate to fill in for 5-10 games next season as the third goalie. The Maple Leafs got what they needed when they claimed McElhinney on waivers. He was able to relieve starter Frederick Anderson 10 times last season. Consider McElhinney a good, cheap two-way backup option… to the backup.
Mike McKenna: Tampa Bay
2016-17 Salary: $575,000
Another older goaltender that is coming off a fantastic season for the Lightning’s AHL affiliate. McKenna’s standout play anchored the Syracuse Crunch’s run to the finals. As a career depth goaltender, McKenna is up for a fresh two-way contract. With only 22 NHL games played in 12 seasons, a contract would strictly be about depth and the 34-year-old is well aware of that.
July 1 is incredibly nerve-racking; depth goalies are almost always on one-year deals, and the pressure to perform is constant. Even when you know you’ve had a good season, there are only so many jobs available and every year someone really good ends up without a seat. -McKenna
Even though McKenna would spend most of his time with the Chicago Wolves he is well-aware of Southern Nevada. The journeyman backup played two seasons for the Las Vegas Wranglers from 2005-2006. Signing an inexpensive player with local history could benefit the team. He wouldn’t be at the T-Mobile Arena often but in case of an emergency start, McKenna would have no problem finding his way around.
Oscar Dansk: Columbus
2016-17 Salary: $925,000
The former 31st overall pick in the NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets did not receive a qualifying offer as an RFA from Columbus making him a free agent this summer. He has spent the past few seasons playing professionally in Sweden, but due to the depth of the Blue Jackets never got a chance to play in the U.S. As much as there’s a gap between Fleury and Pickard, there’s an even bigger and more important gap between Pickard and the rest of the Golden Knights goalie prospects. 23-year old Dansk would go a long way to starting to fill that void.