First Hour of Free Agency Sees Four Backup Goalies On The Move
NHL teams were busy signing back up goaltenders in the first hours of 2016 Free Agency on Friday. In a bit of a goalie carousel several players moved teams within the first hour that contracts could be signed.
The Boston Bruins signed Anton Khudobin, 29, away from the Anaheim Ducks in a bit of a surprise move. Khudobin was reported earlier this year to be signing in the KHL. The term is reported to be two years at $1.2 million AAV.
Khudobin left Boston in 2013 offseason and then parlayed a .914 in 70 games with the Carolina Hurricanes into a deal with the Anaheim Ducks for 2015-16. His performance there was underwhelming, opening the door for John Gibson to be promoted to the NHL. The Ducks traded Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this month and will now need to replace Khudobin in the backup spot.
This move will allow Malcom Subban one more season to show the Bruins that he is ready to make the jump to NHL time while giving them some flexibility on this front. Should Subban outplay Khudobin at any point, he and Khudobin can be switched.
The Minnesota Wild signed Alex Stalock to a one-year deal to back up Devan Dubnyk. Stalock is a St. Paul, Minnesota, native who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2005. He has 62 NHL games (.911 save percentage), all with the Sharks.
Stalock was a bit underutilized in San Jose, playing only 13 games behind Martin Jones this past season. He is, however, not likely to get much more opportunity in Minnesota. Devan Dubnyk played 67 games last year. Stalock’s deal is a one-year, two-way deal, worth $600,000 at the NHL level, which leaves the question of what will happen to Darcy Kuemper open. There are reports that the Wild would like to trade Kuemper who is a Restricted Free Agent.
Chad Johnson has a new one-year deal with the Calgary Flames, who last week brought Brian Elliott on in a draft day trade. The deal is reported to be a one year deal worth $1.7 million. Like some other goalies signed today, Johnson has moved around the league a bit, playing in Phoenix, New York, and Buffalo in the past three seasons. In 101 career NHL games, Johnson has posted a .917 save percentage, including a .920 in 45 games last year with the Sabres.
It’s unclear what the Flames feel they are getting in Johnson, whose performance has fluctuated quite a bit over his career. Should Elliott be as successful with Calgary as it is hoped, all Johnson will need to do is not let things slip too badly. If, however, Elliott is injured or falters, Johnson’s latest season shows that he can, under the right circumstances, hold down a starting workload. If that does happen, the expectations for him in Calgary will be higher than they were in Buffalo.
And finally, Jonas Gustavsson moved to the Edmonton Oilers to back up Cam Talbot. The deal is for one year and is worth $800,000.
Gustavsson signed with the Boston Bruins just before the start of last season and posted a .908 in 24 games behind Tuukka Rask. That’s well below league average and at age 31, Gustavsson shouldn’t be counted on to get better. While Boston’s defense has gotten worse over the past few seasons, the Oilers defense corps is arguably worse and Gustavsson needs a great deal of defensive structure to play the aggressive game he prefers.
All told, these four moves leave the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Buffalo Sabres with holes to fill in the backup position. Much more to come on what appears to be a busy first day of free agency.