Tuesday, March 24, 2009

09/10 Goaltending

Adrian Dater recently posted a blog about Peter Budaj, which got me to thinking about who the man between the pipes will be next year. Realistically, the Avs have three options:

1. Re-sign Budaj and hope he finally finds his "potential". Honestly, this sounds like an awful idea (and don't get me wrong, it is), but seeing as the Avs have 44 million committed to next seasons team (none of which is being spent on a goalie), they may not have much choice. Better to spend chump change on Budaj, who may actually get a little better, than to spend chump change on a has-been (Joseph, Legace) or nobody (Tellqvist, Sanford).

This choice would likely result in another year out of the playoffs, but that may be a good thing for this rebuilding team because the 2010 draft is expected to be a deep one.

2. Use Weiman and Bacashihua. Both have been pretty good in the minors this season, and now would be the perfect time to see if either are NHL caliber goalies. Bacashihua is a former 1st round draft choice of the Dallas Stars, and it may be worth it to see if he's salvaged any of his perceived potential.

Chances are the Avs would be getting Taylor Hall (projected 1st overall choice in the 2010 draft) if they go with this tandem. I somehow doubt fans will be complaining if that's the case.

3. Make a trade. As I've noted, the Avs have alot of money locked up next year, so they won't be able to go on a shopping spree and sign a top UFA goalie (which there are very few of). So, making a trade seems to be the only option to get the Avs a #1 goalie. The top three candidates who may be available are:

- Josh Harding, MIN.

Make no mistake, Harding, an RFA (restricted free agent), WILL be moved at the draft. The only question is to which team, and for what. Despite the fact that both team's play in the same division, I could realistically see the Wild dealing him to Colorado. Other teams who may have interest are Philadelphia, Washington, and St. Louis.

His 2-9-1 record this season is mediocre, but Harding will still get a decent return. He's a very good goalie, and his numbers (2.15 GAA, 0.932 SV%) are amazing (apparently not amazing enough to win 3 games, though!).

- Jonas Hiller/J.S. Giguere, ANA.

The Ducks have a log jam in goal; Giguere (18-17-5) and Hiller (17-14-1) have split the goaltending duties this season. Because they make a combined 7.3 million next season, I think it'll be in the Ducks best interest to move one of them.

And I think they'll move 26 year old Jonas Hiller. Giguere has really struggled this season (partly because his father passed away), but I still don't see the Ducks trading him only 2 seasons after he led them to a Stanley Cup. Hiller, on the other hand, only has two seasons of NHL experience.

Whether he can handle playing every night is a mystery, but so far he's established himself as a top notch back-up, posting a career 27-21-1 record with a 2.21 GAA and .923 SV%.

- Kari Lehtonen, ATL.

Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson recently said that the team is committed to keeping Lehtonen, but I don't buy it. At some point, they're going to have to trade either Lehtonen or Pavelec; based on the brilliant moves he's made in the past, my money says Thrasher's GM Don Waddell moves Lehtonen. It could be this summer, seeing as he's an RFA.

The buying price will be a steep one, however. Lehtonen has consistently posted a top notch SV% (currently .913) playing behind one of the worst teams in the league, so GM's know that inserting this 24 year old into their team solidifies their goaltending for years to come.

I honestly believe the Flyers will get him. He'd be the perfect fit there, and they have so much offensive depth that they'd be able to part with some good players to get him. From an Avalanche perspective, it would probably cost a pick (2nd or 3rd round), Svatos, and a decent prospect (such as Hensick, Williams, or Cumiskey).

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