One thing that dawned on me recently is that the going rate for a starting goalie seems to be around $5 million. It doesn’t even have to be a good one, either. For every Martin Brodeur ($5.2 million) there’s a hit-or-miss Tim Thomas ($5 million) or an even worse Cristobal Huet ($5.6 million).
It’s often interesting to take a look at teams that do things a little differently, though. The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers share an almost defiant indifference to spending big money on goalies (although, obviously, one team is having a lot more success with that approach). Between Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings are only spending a little more than $2 million combined. And while Ray Emery and Michael Leighton both had cheap contracts, the active Flyers goalies are almost comically inexpensive.
In both cases, the teams are spending close to the cap limit so it’s not a matter of being frugal; they both chose to emphasize other areas of their clubs. There’s a lot of logic to the concept, even if it seems like they’re playing a risky game of goalie chicken. After all, if you build a team that can put a goalie in a position to succeed (goal support from offense, limited scoring chances because of defense) then your goalie doesn’t have to play at an elite level for your team to succeed.
Going cheap in net allows the Red Wings to afford Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Johan Franzen. As ugly as things might be for the Flyers right now, they’ve still compiled a talented roster that includes Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger. The Red Wings and Flyers aren’t like most of the league’s teams who are forced to live and die with an expensive goalie who could slip or get injured at any time. Both approaches have their risks, but it’s surprising that more teams don’t consider going the cheap route in net.
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of Blues series
Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions
Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: