NHL Free Agency: Goalies
NHL Free Agency is around the corners and the need for goalies has never been greater for teams, making those true numbers ones a commodity.
Net Minders Needed
NHL Free Agency begins on July 13th, 2022 and one position has some teams in need. Four teams are in desperate need of starting goaltenders prior to the season. The Buffalo Sabers, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals all find themselves searching. With concerns over whether or not Jack Campbell can get them to the next round Toronto is not willing to foot the bill. Toronto is expected to lose Campbell to another team in free agency and looking for his replacement. The two biggest names out there are Jack Campbell and Stanley Cup Champion Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper is coming off a Finals win with the Colorado Avalanche with a previous cap hit of $4.5 million.
As free agency nears the league knows Colorado will not be going after Kuemper due to their cap situation and having traded for Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. With free agency set to start, Campbell and Kuemper are both expected to want at least $5 million. Two teams stand out as the best landing spots for both of these goalies.
For Jack Campbell there is one team that has the cap space and desperation that could allow for the best fit. The Edmonton Oilers failed to make it to the finals in large part to their 40-year-old goalie Mike Smith. With Smith expected to retire, the Oilers are looking for a young and talented net minder to help them get over the hump. Since a deal has yet to get done, we can safely expect his time in Toronto to be over.
Should Campbell have no interest in going to another Canadian team, his options become less attractive. With the Buffalo Sabers being years away from actually competing for a Cup his only real option is the Capitals. The Capitals are the only team with enough cap space to handle what his contract will be and be a team worth playing for. The only problem with the Capitals is an aging core that was injured last year.
Kuemper on the other hand has all of his options open to him. Coming off a Stanley Cup Championship he can demand a high price for his services. Two teams currently fit his style of play. Kuemper was lucky to have a high octane scoring offense that gave plenty of support with the Avs. The Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs both fit the bill.
Due to the Leafs trading for Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators they may not be willing to pay big money for Kuemper. If Kuemper is willing to take a manageable deal they may try to add him to a tandem with Murray. Should he be looking for too much money, his options shift. If he no longer cares about winning the Cup he can go to the Sabers and try and collect a mega deal that only they can foot the bill for.
On paper the most appealing outcomes for all would see Kuemper in a Leafs goalie tandem and Campbell in an Oilers one. This would then help to push both teams over the hump and get them closer to a Stanley Cup. Kuemper brings in Stanley Cup experience and the ability to change the Leafs destiny. Campbell would be able to keep the Oilers in more games and improve their chances greatly. Now should both of the two not go to Canadian teams there are other options out there. Older goalies the league is more familiar with. Braden Holtby and Martin Jones are also free agents looking for contracts. By the end of day Wednesday we can expect to see most of these goalies signed to new deals and ready to play.