Apropos of nothing but curiosity on our part, here are the five cheapest goaltending tandems for the 2013-14 NHL season, in terms of cap hit.
Florida Panthers ($2.4 million)
Jacob Markstrom ($1.2 million) and Scott Clemmensen ($1.2 million) are slated to share duties for last year’s worst team in the league. The former, just 23 years old, is supposed to be the future in Florida; however, he still has much to prove after a so-so 2013 season in which his save percentage finished at .901. If the duo falters early, it will be interesting to see if general manager Dale Tallon tries to make a move. (No, not for Roberto Luongo; Vancouver kind of needs him now.)
Philadelphia Flyers ($3.15 million)
For: Ray Emery ($1.65 million) and Steve Mason ($1.5 million). As always, Philly’s goalies will be under the microscope. And for good reason. Emery, coming over from Chicago, hasn’t started more than 30 games in a season since 2006-07, while Mason will be trying to resurrect his career after falling on hard times in Columbus. Will the Flyers play a more conservative style to help out their goalies? Remember, this is what Ilya Bryzgalov’s agent said after his client was bought out: “It’s terrible for goaltenders in Philadelphia.”
Calgary Flames ($3.68 million)
Assuming Miikka Kiprusoff retires, which he hasn’t officially done yet, the Flames are expected to go with newcomer Karri Ramo ($2.75 million) and veteran Joey MacDonald ($925,000). Ramo, 27, went 26-9-5 with a .929 save percentage last season for Omsk Avangard. In terms of save percentage, only six KHL goalies were better than that. We’ll see how he does in the best league in the world.
New York Islanders ($3.83 million)
For: Evgeni Nabokov ($3.25 million) and Kevin Poulin ($577,500). This should be interesting. While he was mostly solid during the regular season, Nabokov struggled badly in the playoffs, ending up with a save percentage of .842 in six games versus the Penguins. And at 38 years old, he’s not getting any younger. Meanwhile, Poulin, 23, has a limited NHL resume, with just 17 starts to his name. It’s possible Anders Nilsson, also 23, could beat out Poulin for the backup role, but the inexperience factor would remain.
Tampa Bay Lightning ($4.1 million)
Ben Bishop ($2.3 million) and Anders Lindback ($1.8 million) form the Lightning’s young (and tall) tandem. For their team to make it back to the playoffs following consecutive misses, at least one of them will have to step up. Bishop was acquired at the trade deadline from Ottawa in return for forward Cory Conacher, and heading into training camp, he’s probably the favorite to be the opening-day starter. But that doesn’t mean Lindback can’t win the job. “They are both relatively young, and they each have tremendous upside,” said GM Steve Yzerman. “Over the course of an entire season, it will give both of them an opportunity to play. Having two guys with great potential, they’ll now both be able to develop into the goaltenders we think they can become.”