Antti Niemi (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)
Several teams will be looking for help in goal this off-season, including the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. The St. Louis Blues may also be looking if they fail to go deep this post-season. Meanwhile, Mike Green has to decide whether a pay cut is worth it to stay in Washington.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch lists the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames “and possibly” the St. Louis Blues as teams that could seek goaltending this summer.
Free agency is one reason these clubs could be shopping for depth between the pipes. San Jose's Antti Niemi, Buffalo's Anders Lindback, Edmonton's Viktor Fasth and Calgary's Karri Ramo are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in July. If they test the market they'll have to be replaced.
The Oilers, Sabres, Leafs and Sharks are also in the bottom third of the league this season in goals-against per game. They must bolster their goaltending if they hope to see real improvement next season. As for the Flames, if they lose Ramo to free agency they'll likely call up promising Joni Ortio to back up starter Jonas Hiller.
While the Blues are among the best clubs in goals-against this season, Garrioch speculates they could look for a new starter if Brian Elliott fails to carry them deep in the playoffs. If the Carolina Hurricanes decide to shop starter Cam Ward, Garrioch believes he could be a good fit with St. Louis.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong could have a different opinion. While Ward improved this season and has a year remaining on his contract, it comes with a salary cap hit of $6.3 million. The 31-year-old netminder also has an injury history and hasn't seen playoff action since 2009.
The Blues have over $56 million invested in their cap payroll for 2015-16. Elliott has two more years at $2.5-million per season remaining on his contract, which they'll have to move if they decide to acquire Ward or another seasoned starter.
Armstrong must also re-sign promising Jake Allen and budding superstar winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Both are restricted free agents who are due significant raises. Adding Ward's expensive salary (even if the Hurricanes were willing to pick up part of it) takes up valuable cap space needed for more pressing issues. If Armstrong decides he must improve his goaltending he'll probably seek more affordable and younger options than Ward.
GREEN WILL NEED PAY CUT TO STAY IN WASHINGTON
Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. If left up him, however, he'd prefer staying in Washington.
NBC Sports' James O'Brien cites a recent interview the 29-year-old Green had with Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks claiming his heart is in Washington and always will be “until something else happens.”
For Green to stay put, however, he'll have to accept a significant pay cut. His current cap hit is over $6 million annually, but injuries in recent years hampered his effectiveness as a puck-moving blueliner. O'Brien also notes the Capitals currently have over $20 million invested in their defense corps.
The Capitals must also re-sign restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Holtby's performance this season ensures he'll get a healthy pay bump over his current $1.85-million cap hit. Pending UFAs Joel Ward, Curtis Glencross, Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle must be re-signed or replaced.
As much as Green wants to remain with the Capitals, he could be too expensive to re-sign.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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