According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Blue Jackets backup netminder Curtis Sanford has signed with Lokomotiv of the KHL.
“Not a back-up plan,” is how Sanford described the move.
He’ll be joining a Lokomotiv team looking to rebuild after last year’s plane crash tragedy that killed 25 roster players and 11 team staff members. (Ex-NHLers signed on for next year include Viktor Kozlov, Staffan Kronwall, and Vitaly Vishnevsky.)
Sanford’s decision to leave the NHL is a bit curious given how effectively he returned last season after a two-year hiatus. The 32-year-old appeared in 36 games for Columbus posting a 10-18-4 record with a .911 save percentage and 2.60 GAA — the W-L record was an eyesore, but he did play well in stretches, was named Columbus’ Masterton Trophy nominee and even got a Tuesday Tire Pump (remember that?) out of the deal.
The larger picture, however, is what the move does to an already svelte goaltending market. In the past 48 hours we’ve seen Tim Thomas go on sabbatical, Tomas Vokoun sign in Pittsburgh and Sanford bolt to Russia. That leaves the UFA goalie list highlighted by the likes of Jonas Gustavsson, Scott Clemmensen, Johan Hedberg, Josh Harding, Dwayne Rolson, Martin Biron and Chris Mason.