With Scott Clemmensen not being retained and the organization reportedly wanting Jacob Markstrom to spend the season with San Antonio of the AHL, the Panthers have a spot open for a backup (or potential starting) goaltender. While rumors abound regarding a return by Roberto Luongo, it remains possible Florida will keep their talented farm system untouched and pick up a bargain netminder for the coming season. After the jump are five UFA 'tenders expected to hit the market on July 1st.
What do Danis, Ryan Miller. and Cory Schneider all have in common? All three were awarded the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award for best goalie in the American Hockey League. After spending 2010-11 with Amur Khabarovsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, Danis played 43 games with the Oklahoma City Barons. The Barons were second in AHL goals against and were the top seed in the Western Conference. Danis had a cap hit of $650,000 last season, and is only 30 years old with 50 games of NHL experience. If the Panthers defense can repeat last season's success, Danis could be a bargain.
It's been five seasons since Ellis lead the NHL in save percentage and almost helped the Predators upset the Detroit Red Wings. Now however, Ellis has been struggling to keep his save percentage above .910 and has been with three different organizations in two seasons. The Saskatoon native was a backup for the Anaheim Ducks, playing ten games before a sports hernia ended his season. Elis also has a career .667 Sv% in shootouts.
Perhaps the best goalie going into free agency, "Moose" had beaten longtime Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in save percentage in each of his two seasons with the Devils. The longtime Thrasher has never surprised his rookie season total of 66 games played, but since 2009-10 has posted a save percentage of .912 and higher. Hedberg has a post-lockout shootout GVT of 11.5, the third best in the NHL.
The definition of the term journeymen, Curtis McElhinney has played for two different organizations in each of his last three seasons (he was traded to Columbus in the Antoine Vermette deal). McElhinney only real success was after being traded to Ottawa where he had a .917 Sv% in seven games. McElhinney minor league numbers with the Portland Pirates weren't much to talk about (.907 Sv% in 25 games) but if Brian Elliott has proven anything, it's that a good defense can make any goalie look good.
Small sample sizes have been very kind and unkind to Justin Peters. In seasons where Peters has played less than ten games, he's looked amazing, but his 10-11 season, Peters looked nothing like a NHL goalie. The Hurricanes have Brian Boucher signed for next season and Mike Murphy as a RFA, so it looks like UFA Peters will need a new home. Peters could sign cheap and with a solid defense in front, the Blyth, Ontario native could live up to his AHL numbers.