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Recap: Free Agency Day One Goaltender Movement

Recap: Free Agency Day One Goaltender Movement
Karri Ramo was injured Saturday, forcing the Flames to recall Brad Thiessen. (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

It looked like he was preparing to test the market in free agency, but Karri Ramo was re-signed by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

With the July 1st free agency period kicking off, teams scrambled to add pieces and complete their goaltending plans for the upcoming NHL season. It was a busy day as seven goaltenders signed new contracts, and one was traded.

The day started with the announcement that the Calgary Flames have re-signed Karri Ramo to a one-year contract worth $3.8 million. It appeared likely that he was going to test the market, but the Flames ended up signing him minutes before his contract expired.  $3.8 million is a fair amount to be paying Ramo, but it’s only for one season so the risk is minimal. He may have seen Calgary as his best option to be a starting goaltender, and instead of uprooting his family, he decided to stay. The Flames are now stuck with the predicament of having three goaltenders with one-way contracts – Ramo, Jonas Hiller, and Joni Ortio.

Michal Neuvirth became the first goalie to switch teams on the day, by signing a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers that pays him $1.5 million in the first year, and $1.75 million in the second year. Neuvirth is moving on to his fourth organization, after previously being a member of the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Islanders.

The Los Angeles Kings were saddled with a vacancy in their backup position after dealing away Martin Jones, who ended up with the division-rival San Jose Sharks. They filled that spot by signing former Buffalo Sabre and Dallas Star Jhonas Enroth to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The 27-year-old Swede will slot in nicely as the backup behind Jonathan Quick, and will act as insurance if he gets injured again.

The Arizona Coyotes decided to take a chance on Anders Lindback, by signing the netminder to a one-year, $875,000 deal. After coming up in the Nashville Predators system, Lindback has struggled with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars, but seemed to find success at the end of last season with the Buffalo Sabres. It’s a low-risk move for the Coyotes, with Mike Smith expected to make the majority of the starts.

In another move by a team needing a backup goaltender, the New York Islanders reached into free agency and plucked Thomas Greiss away from the Pittsburgh Penguins. His contract is for two years, and will pay him a total of $3 million. The 29-year-old Greiss will act as a big step up from Chad Johnson, who was the backup for Jaroslav Halak for most of last season. They ended up trading Johnson for Michal Neuvirth to upgrade that position, so they’re hoping Greiss brings some stability.

Portland Pirates vs. Manchester Monarchs in VIP Cup action at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on 4/3/2015. (Photo by Michael McSweeney/Portland Pirates)

InGoal contributor Mike McKenna was briefly on the market as an unrestricted free agent, but quickly signed with the Florida Panthers organization for two years. (Photo by Michael McSweeney/Portland Pirates)

In three minor deals for goaltenders that will likely start the season in the AHL, the Florida Panthers signed InGoal‘s own Mike McKenna to a two-year, two-way contract, the Vancouver Canucks picked up Richard Bachman for two years, and the Anaheim Ducks brought in Matt Hackett for two years.

McKenna will not even have to change cities after leading the Portland Pirates into the playoffs last season, as the Panthers are moving their affiliation to Portland starting in 2015. Panthers GM Dale Tallon was quoted as saying that McKenna’s experience was the main factor in them reaching out to sign the deal.

Bachman spent last season with the Edmonton Oilers, and played quite well in the AHL, but also during his short stint with the NHL club. He will likely form a tandem with Joe Cannata in Utica next season.

Hackett is coming of major reconstructive knee surgery, and was forced to wear a large knee brace last season with the Sabres. The once highly touted Minnesota Wild prospect will now get a fresh start with another new organization, and the length of the deal will hopefully give him time to get fully healthy and back on track.

Finally, there was one trade involving a goaltender on Wednesday. Nashville’s Magnus Hellberg was sent to the New York Rangers in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2017. Hellberg became expendable when Juuse Saros was signed by the Predators, who also had Marek Mazanec under contract. His stock has been rising in recent years, but there was simply no room for him in the Predators organization. Hellberg is a restricted free agent and needs a new contract, but the Predators did send him a qualifying offer this week.

To recap:

Calgary FlamesKarri Ramo was re-signed to a one-year contract worth $3.8 million


FlyersMichal Neuvirth was signed to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million in the first year, and $1.75 million in the second year.


Los_Angeles_KingsJhonas Enroth was signed to a to a one-year contract worth $1.25 million.


Arizona_CoyotesAnders Lindback was signed to a one-year contract worth $875,000


New_York_IslandersThomas Greiss was signed to a two-year contract worth a total of $3 million.


Florida_PanthersMike McKenna was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.


Vancouver_CanucksRichard Bachman was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.


Anaheim_DucksMatt Hackett was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.


Boston_BruinsJeremy Smith was re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000.


RangersMagnus Hellberg was acquired from Nashville for a sixth-round draft pick in 2017.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.