Recap: Free Agency Day One Goaltender Movement
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.
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.
Karri Ramo was re-signed to a one-year contract worth $3.8 million
Michal Neuvirth was signed to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million in the first year, and $1.75 million in the second year.
Jhonas Enroth was signed to a to a one-year contract worth $1.25 million.
Anders Lindback was signed to a one-year contract worth $875,000
Thomas Greiss was signed to a two-year contract worth a total of $3 million.
Mike McKenna was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.
Richard Bachman was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.
Matt Hackett was signed to a two-year, two-way contract. Financial details were not made public.
Jeremy Smith was re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000.
Magnus Hellberg was acquired from Nashville for a sixth-round draft pick in 2017.