Ryan Miller

Miller, Hiller top list of pending UFA goalies


Henrik Lundqvist is no longer a pending unrestricted free agent, and he won’t be until 2020-21. But there are many, many other goalies that still have the option to freely explore the market this summer.

Ryan Miller: By far the highest-profile UFA of the bunch. Miller, 33, hasn’t registered a save percentage below .915 since 2007-08, and general managers will pay for that sort of consistency and reliability. Rumor has it Miller wants to end up in California, but of the three teams in The Golden State, only Anaheim’s starting goaltending situation is up in the air for next season, and that’s due to too many options, not too few.

Jonas Hiller: The 31-year-old has been up and down for the Ducks this season, but it’s his .917 career save percentage in 276 starts that stands out. That number is right up there with the best in the business. On Tuesday, he stopped 49 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings. “He was the reason we got a point tonight,” said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.

Other veteran UFAs include Jaroslav Halak (good goalie and only 28 years old, but comes with an injury history), Tim Thomas (turns 40 in April), and Martin Brodeur (turns 42 in May).

Ben Scrivens: The 27-year-old former Leaf has been brilliant for the Kings, registering a .943 save percentage in 15 appearances and making the injury to Jonathan Quick a non-factor for L.A.. Well, actually, that’s not true. Because Scrivens has actually played much better than Quick was playing before he got hurt. Not a negative factor, is what we should have said. The obvious caveat: Scrivens remains unproven, with just 40 NHL starts on his resume.

Anton Khudobin: Also 27, and also playing for a new team this season after coming to Carolina via Boston. In 24 NHL games, Khudobin has a career save percentage of .932. Pretty good, but like Scrivens, not a particularly big body of work from which to predict his future. We also mention Khudobin because the ‘Canes are reportedly fielding trade inquiries on both him and their other 27-year-old pending UFA goalie, Justin Peters.

Still more: Ilya Bryzgalov, Devan Dubnyk, Ray Emery, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Thomas Greiss, Curtis McElhinney, Chad Johnson, Jonas Gustavsson, and Brian Elliott. Are we forgetting anyone? Probably.

Anyway, lots of names to consider. As we touched on in the Chip ‘n’ Chase, the goalie market isn’t like the market for skaters. It should be interesting to see which GMs go for the reliability that a veteran can provide and which ones roll the dice on a less proven commodity.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen