Barring the far-fetched notion of acquiring Roberto Luongo, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ go-to goalie will have a lot to prove.
Depending upon who grabs the No. 1 job, that guy might even need to save his career.
If Sergei Bobrovsky grabs the starting gig as many expect, he’ll hope to match (or improve) upon his solid rookie season and forget about everything that came after.
Keeping Steve Mason around might just come down to how expensive a buyout might be, but if he manages to avoid an AHL demotion, he’ll aim to save his career.
(If nothing else, Mason should wear properly proportioned pads next season. Baby steps.)
It would be surprising if Allen York elbows his way into the picture, yet he managed an impressive .920 save percentage in the small sample size of 11 appearances last season.
There have been at least some rumors of a Jonathan Bernier trade – even after they grabbed Bobrovsky. For all the drooling scouting reports, Steve Bernier’s brother has a way to go before he justifies the hype.
Interestingly enough, all four of these goalies are in the last year of their contracts. Whoever grabs the top job has plenty to gain in 2012-13, then.
Who will lead the team in scoring?
Is Columbus better without Rick Nash?
Now that Martin Brodeur (and Johan Hedberg) have re-signed in New Jersey, let’s take a look at the remaining unrestricted free agent goalies.
Based on games started in 2011-12, from most to least, they go like this: Dwayne Roloson, Al Montoya, Brent Johnson, Ty Conklin, Andrew Raycroft, Alex Auld, Dan Ellis, and you get the point – there’s nobody that’s going to significantly improve a team at the position.
Now let’s consider the teams that have question marks in net:
Toronto – Leafs GM Brian Burke has said he’s willing to go into the season with the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, but you can bet he’s not happy about it. Miss the playoffs again and Burke could be looking for work, not a goalie. All of which is why we’ll keep monitoring the Roberto Luongo situation in Vancouver. At the moment, Florida is believed to be the most likely to land the Canucks’ goalie.
Columbus –Scott Howson went out and got Sergei Brobovsky from the Flyers, but can the embattled Blue Jackets GM trust a 23-year-old that’s coming off a bad season when his only other options are Steve Mason and Allen York? At least Howson has lowered expectations on his side.
Chicago – The Blackhawks were reportedly interested in Brodeur when he was exploring free agency, and for good reason – Corey Crawford struggled badly in 2011-12 and the backup, Ray Emery, didn’t do any better. GM Stan Bowman can’t let goaltending drag his Stanley Cup contender down again.
Tampa Bay – Anders Lindback may be the Lightning’s goalie of the future, but GM Steve Yzerman would be asking a lot of the 24-year-old with 28 NHL starts under his belt to take over the top spot right away. Mathieu Garon is under contract for another season, but he’s bounced around the league for a reason.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did well to add goaltending in Sergei Bobrovsky ahead of the draft but GM Scott Howson says his team needs more.
Rob Mixer of the Blue Jacket’s website hears from Howson about how the Jackets are “well-stocked” on goalies and how goaltending is still an issue he wants to solve. Howson says he’d like to add a goalie who can play in the NHL and wants to add a couple more pro goalies.
The Blue Jackets as it is have Bobrovsky, Steve Mason, and Allen York in net. York is in need of more seasoning in the AHL while Mason is guy who is virtually on the outs in Columbus, especially with Bobrovsky now in town.
The question now is: How does Howson go about fixing it with who is out there on the free agent market?
Earlier today we asked what Leafs general manager Brian Burke was going to do about his goaltending now that Tomas Vokoun has signed in Pittsburgh. But there’s another GM that’s just as desperate, if not more desperate, to find a solution between the pipes.
That would be Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who rolled the dice with Steve Mason last season when a better option would’ve been to put the dice in goal. However, as Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch writes, much maligned Steve Mason and woefully inexperienced Allen York are the only ones currently under contract.
Portzline suggests Nashville backup Anders Lindback could be a trade target. Another possibility is the Kings’ Jonathan Bernier, though “the Jackets have always seemed lukewarm on him.”
Portzline also nominates Roberto Luongo. However, that assumes Luongo would agree to go to Columbus. (Don’t see that myself.)
Howson’s not under the same pressure as Burke to make the playoffs, but at the very least he needs to find a goalie of the future.
The fun in goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets just jumped another level.
Starting goalie Steve Mason was injured this morning thanks to taking a shot off his head in practice and with the Blue Jackets only having backup goalie Allen York at their disposal, they were in desperate need of a goalie for tonight’s game against Detroit. The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell reports that the Blue Jackets have their answer in the form of University of Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick.
Hunwick was signed to an amateur tryout deal and will back up York for tonight’s game. Depending on Mason’s health, it could turn into a full-fledged contract for the 5’7″ 166-pound goaltender.
Going from college to the pros immediately is something we’ve seen this year with St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz and soon with Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, but playing goal is an entirely different monster.
As it is, York is the fourth-string goalie for the Blue Jackets, but thanks to injuries to Mark Dekanich and Curtis Sanford he was rushed to the show. Now Hunwick arrives as their fifth option. If you were wondering why the Jackets are the NHL’s worst team, it’s a mix of bad injury luck and bad management.