As soon as Manny Legace accepted a professional tryout with the Canucks, the clock was ticking before his inevitable release. It’s nothing against Legace—he just went to a team that has one of the most solidified goaltending situations in the entire NHL. Roberto Luongo is under contract until the next time Haley’s Comet appears, back-up Cory Schneider could start for half the teams in the league, and Swedish prospect Eddie Lack already has the starting job in the AHL on lockdown. Was the team really going to waste a developmental spot on the Chicago Wolves roster for an aging goaltender trying to make a comeback? Probably not.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was an optimist when he spoke to the media about releasing Legace on Friday:
“There seemed to be some interest out there. Other teams are looking for some goaltenders.
“We gave him the opportunity to stay with us and practice or (for) him and his agent to look at something else. He decided look to see if there was something else out there.”
The good news is that Legace has proven in the past that he’s an adequate NHL netminder. While playing most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues (with shorts stints in LA and Carolina), Legace has put up decent statistics. He has 197 wins and only 99 regulation losses, a .912 career save percentage, and a 2.41 goals against average. Looking at the body of work, there could be an NHL team interested in kicking the tires before the season starts.
The bad news is he’s a 38-year-old goaltender coming off an average season in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. His 17-22-3 record last season with the Iserlohn Roosters isn’t going to get anyone’s attention and the 2.51 goals against average is pedestrian at best. But an average record and statistics while playing in Germany aren’t resume items that NHL teams want to see.
Take a look around the league. Legace’s best shot is to catch on with a team that has a solid #1 goaltender and wants a veteran presence as a back-up. Not only will a team need to have a back-up role available, they’ll need to be willing to give the job to the aging Legace and not a prospect that needs seasoning. As if that wasn’t enough, Legace isn’t the only goaltender on the market as teams are trimming their training camp rosters. Pascal Leclaire and Marty Turco are both still available for teams—and are both just as viable as Manny Legace. There’s also the netminders who are competing for jobs who may get cut or waived within the coming weeks (like Ray Emery or Alexander Salak in Chicago).
Unfortunately for Legace, this could be the end of the road for an NHL career that began when he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers way back in 1993. Anything could happen between now and the beginning of the season, but it doesn’t look good for the veteran.