One restricted free agent that’s not getting much notice of late is Montreal’s Carey Price. After all, when you lost your job halfway through the season and played backup to a guy that was a veritable Superman in the playoffs in Jaroslav Halak, it’s expected that what was once a very bright future might seem a bit dim by comparison. The Canadiens made their decision, however, and traded Halak to St. Louis for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.
So just what does a once benched but still very young (he’s only 23 years-old) and capable goaltender find his worth to be on the restricted market? Mike Boone of Habs Inside/Out takes a look at Price’s contemporaries around the NHL to try and figure it out, highlighting one comparison to the recently re-signed by the Wild, Josh Harding.
Harding played in 25 games last year, cmpared to 41 for Price. But their career numbers make an interesting comparison:
Price: 93 regular season GP, a record of 47wins, 28 losses and 13 overtime losses. GAA of 2.71, save percentage of 91.2
Harding: 83 GP, 28-39-8, 2.66, 91.5.
Harding is 26. Price turns 23 next month.
The tricky part about finding comparable goalies for Carey Price is that most of them aren’t as young as he is. The only goalies who are the same age as Price are others without much of a track record to work with as Boone points out.
Tuuka Rask, Boston, 23: 50, 25-13-6, 2.01, 93.0. $1 million this season, $1.5 million in 2011-’12, then an RFA.
Steve Mason, Columbus, 22: 61, 33-20-7, 2.29, 91.6. $765,000 this season, then a RFA.
Semyon Varlamov, Washington, 22: 32, 19-4-7, 2.49, 91.5. $850,00 this season, $765,000 in 2011-’12, then a RFA.
Rask is coming off his first real year in the NHL and has seized the starting job in Boston for now. Mason had the classic sophomore slump after a huge rookie year. How he responds next year will show if he’s got what it takes to keep it going in the NHL. Varlamov split time with Jose Theodore but it appears he and Michal Neuvirth are set to be the tandem to carry the Caps next year.
In other words, it’s tough to find an appropriate way to match up Price in both the workload and the salary demands. After bonuses, he took down about $2.2 million and you’d think that that would be the starting point for him to begin talks. Montreal has already made their bed with a backup goalie by signing Alex Auld so the starting job should be Price’s to lose. Then again, when it comes to Montreal you never really know how things will work out. After all, no one expected Jaroslav Halak to take over the starting job and lead the team to the Eastern Conference finals. That said, if Alex Auld takes the starting job over Carey Price next year, I think we’d all gag on our poutine.