NHL Clubs Expand Goaltending Depth With Further Free Agent Moves
While many of the notable free agent netminders were snapped up within the first hour of the 2016 frenzy, a number of clubs continued to expand their goaltending depth throughout the day.
Montreal added veteran puck stopper Al Montoya in a bid to shore things up between the pipes after enduring a catastrophic collapse in Carey Price’s absence.
Montoya signs on a one-year, $950,000 deal, which pits him directly against Mike Condon, whose present contract is also set to expire in 2017.
Condon bore the brunt of many fans criticism last year, largely for not being Carey Price on a team that appeared to lurch from one crisis to the next, while Montoya proved to be an able backup to Roberto Luongo in Florida, posting a .919 save percentage in 25 games for the Atlantic Division champions.
Los Angeles somewhat thin goaltending depth chart received some much needed attention too, with former Pittsburgh goalie Jeff Zatkoff inking a two-year, $1.8 million deal.
The 29-year-old was originally drafted by the Kings in 2006 (third round, 74th overall) but failed to make an appearance for the club before moving to Pennsylvania as an unrestricted free agent in 2012.
Now surplus to requirements in Pittsburgh thanks to Matt Murray’s rapid rise, Zatkoff was allowed to depart and will likely have to compete with veteran Peter Budaj for the number two job behind starter Jonathan Quick.
The signing also effectively rules out a return for Jhonas Enroth, who backed up Quick last year.
The Swede publicly expressed his unhappiness with his lack of ice time for the Kings, making a return unlikely anyway, but Zatkoff’s arrival as good as confirms it.
In further moves, Washington saw one netminder depart, but welcomed another in to the fold.
29-year-old Justin Peters, who spent the 2015/16 season with Hershey in the AHL, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Coyotes organisation.
The likelihood is that Peters will again find himself in the AHL at the start of next season, but may get some consideration if Mike Smith or Louis Domingue go down.
The Capitals subsequently picked up former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Joe Cannata to replace Peters.
The 26-year-old, who is yet to make his NHL debut, now sits third in the Caps pecking order behind Vezina Trophy winner Braden Hotly and Philipp Grubauer, and is likely to jump in to the number one job in Hershey at the start of next season.