Atlantic Goalie Update: Don’t Spend the Money

Atlantic Goalie Update: Don’t Spend the Money
Chris Wassel

There is the old middle market goalie correction going on in effect in the NHL. However, an interesting dilemma arises. Do you spend big money on a goaltender in this day and age? It was something James Mirtle attacked with fervor on Wednesday morning.

The latest article from Mirtle ties in playoff success and salary with goaltenders. With all these goalies coming out of nowhere, is it a surprise that this whole notion of going cheaper on the position comes up? Absolutely not.

If you are in need for goaltending, it is best to develop it from within. That has been one assertion. Free agency is not the answer like it used to be. Trades are not really much of an answer either. Look at the mess in Toronto as an example. Even Buffalo is trying to sign a college goalie because they know their depth is not the greatest.


The Money Question

It is all in this quest to save money whenever possible. If you do not have a Carey Price on your team, what do you do? Does a team pay the goalie? Washington has not with Braden Holtby yet. They probably will have to at some point.


The Toronto Goalie Cap

There situation was not bad until now. The two goalies last year had just a $5.2 million cap hit and some will argue that Toronto got what they paid for. That may have a shred of truth to it but no goalie was winning under those circumstances. Jonathan Bernier is now a RFA and it will be interesting to see what the Maple Leafs do. Do you chalk up last year to a cataclysm and hope things get better or do you cut the cord now?

Let’s say Toronto qualifies Bernier or he takes a salary of around $3.5 to $4 million a year, that is still not bad at all with James Reimer and his $2.3 million cap hit. The Maple Leafs have lots of holes to fill but going out to make a big splash on a free agent goalie is very risky, especially for this upcoming UFA class. Let’s just say it is not all that deep.

Toronto is not the only team in the Atlantic doing this. Look at Ottawa for example.


The Ottawa Goalie Cap

Ottawa has a slightly different dynamic with three goalies on the roster. One will likely become expendable sometime soon but they illustrate why it is so important to have depth in the organization. It allowed Andrew Hammond to come out of nowhere. Injuries also aided in this run that put the Senators in the playoffs but they also have a reasonable goalie cap.

Their 2014-15 goalie cap is only $5.772 million and it will go up to a little north of $7 million as it currently stands if Ottawa offers Hammond a standard pay raise.

Now say they do not, and they trade Robin Lehner. Then that $7 million may still be around the right number as Craig Anderson’s new cap hit would be $4.2 million with his extension. This assumes that Hammond gets a raise to somewhere between $2 and $3 million. That is a 2015-16 hit which could be called rather reasonable and Ottawa would have two goalie capable of starting.


Other teams and their goalie cap hits

Detroit’s cap hit is not so bad, but the problem is what is in Grand Rapids may be more of an issue as Jonas Gustavsson will not be a Red Wing next year. If Jimmy Howard continues to go downhill, then what? Detroit could actually be around $6 million at least for 2015-16, but they would have to answer their eventual goalie woes sooner rather than later.

Buffalo’s goalie cap is low enough to make people cry. Next year, it will likely be somewhere around $3 or $4 million, maybe less. Buffalo and Detroit have worse problems than Toronto and Ottawa to an extent. The Sabres would have to bring in someone (overpay a veteran) to be their starter. That would be the going thought anyway. Detroit will have to make a decision on Mrazek, but at least it will not have to be until the summer at the very earliest and more likely sometime next season.

It is becoming more and more clear that goalie salaries are going to be reigned in once again. This seems to occur every few years and this time, the youth is much less likely to get that big payday. It just is not happening all that often unless you are an elite goaltender and even then.

Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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