NHL free agency is upon us and teams will be looking to upgrade in net. Today we will be looking at the top five UFA goalies for the start of free agency. We’ll also throw in a couple of extras that aren’t on the list for various reasons. This list isn’t in order but should be a guide for Wednesday’s madness.
Top 5 UFA Goalies
The Colorado Avalanche netminder put up some solid numbers with the President’s Trophy winners. “Grubby” went 30-9-1 with a 1.95 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage. The German netminder also got seven shutouts and finished as a Vezina Trophy finalist.
However, the Avs crashed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the second round to the Vegas Golden Knights. Colorado general manager Joe Sakic has some hard decisions to make with captain Gabriel Landeskog and Grubauer both UFAs. Both went a nice pay raise and some length to their new deals, if possible.
Grubauer would certainly get a lot of looks from teams looking to make a significant move in goal. The 29-year-old made one leap in his career when came over from the Washington Capitals. Could he be on the move again?
A combination of injuries and the rise of Jack Campbell saw the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie lose his starting job. The Swede went 13-8-3 with a 2.96 GAA and dismal .895 save percentage. Andersen does have 226 career victories in-between time with the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto.
The Danish goalie has struggled to win in the post-season. (Pretty much like the Leafs have over the years.) It’s unknown if he wants to stay in Toronto and fight for his starting spot or if he wants to move on. Andersen is 31, but could still be a solid goalie in the right situation.
It’s the first of two Carolina Hurricanes goalies coming up on the list. Bernier’s negotiating rights were recently acquired from the Detroit Red Wings. Carolina sent restricted free agent Alex Nedeljkovic to the Motor City, but that means the Canes have three UFA goalies. Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are also UFAs for the Hurricanes along with Bernier.
Detroit has struggled in recent seasons, but the Laval, Quebec native has been one of the few bright spots. The soon-to-be 33-year-old went 9-11-1 with a 2.99 GAA, but that was behind a young and suspect Red Wings defence.
Bernier can be a solid option in the net with the right players in front of him. He may challenge for a starting job or be a very capable No. 2 if needed. He could be a sneaky value this free agency season.
It’s the second of our free-agent trio from Carolina in Mrazek. The Czech goalie was also a former Red Wing like Bernier but has enjoyed success over the last few seasons. Mrazek was part of the Canes’ goalie trio and got six wins in an injury-shortened campaign.
The 29-year-old has gotten time as a starter in the past and might be able to do so again. It was thought Mrazek would be the odd man out with Nedeljkovic being the future in goal. However, general manager Don Waddell decided to make the Bernier for Nedeljkovic swap.
Mrazek could end up back in Carolina, but likely moves on. However, no one expected Carolina to make the goalie moves they have so far.
It’s already been confirmed that the Slovak won’t be back with the Boston Bruins. However, he was a faithful servant with the club the last few seasons. He filled in for Tuukka Rask when he left the playoff bubble or whenever he was injured.
Halak has 49 wins in his 83 starts in three seasons with the Bruins. Age may be a concern as he just turned 36, but did have a 2.40 GAA in his time with the Bruins. Halak seems to be the one out the door due to his salary and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman as the future Boston goalie.
He would be a good veteran option as a backup or compete for a starting spot in the right situation.
The Finn would be higher, but a couple of conditions prevent him from being top five on the list. Rask is coming off surgery could keep him out until the New Year. The veteran netminder has also stated that he’ll only sign with Boston if he does continue his career.
Who would have thought that Rask and Lundqvist would be outside of a top-five UFA goalie list? However, “The King” is coming off heart surgery that kept him out of the 2020-21 season. Lundqvist could sign another one-year deal with Washington to get a victory lap on his storied career. He may also get a chance to spell Ilya Samsonov after Vitek Vanecek was taken by the Seattle Kraken.
Reimer completes the trio of UFA Canes goalies and would serve as a solid backup on any team. The Morweena, Manitoba native did get 15 wins for Carolina last season and helped them win the Central Division. He’ll likely not repeat that great season, but there’s no Reimer reason he shouldn’t get a deal.