Saturday, February 13, 2016

2016 NHL Free Agents - 5 Key Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) Goaltenders

There aren't many starting goaltenders who are slated to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs) this summer.  And some of them are in a platoon role currently.  But we've done the research on five of the key goaltenders who are slated to become free agents this summer, so you don't have to.  Happy reading.

1.  Cam Ward
A first round draft pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002, Ward has been a staple in net for the team since 2005-06.  As of this post, Ward has racked up a 261-202 record in net, with a .910 save percentage and 2.70 GAA at the NHL level.

Back in 2010-11, Ward led the league in games played with 74.  The following season he was no slouch in net for the Hurricanes either, playing in 68 games and winning 30 of them.  Since that time, Ward has been bitten by the injury bug quite a bit.  Over the next four seasons, Ward has played in 132 games and has won 56 games.

Ward is coming off of a 6 year contract worth a total of $37.8 million ($6.3 million cap hit).  He will be 32 years old when his contract expires this summer.

This season so far, Ward has been in net for 34 games with a 15-11-6 record, a .908 save percentage and 2.38 GAA.

Ward has performed admirably this season.  However, given his age and his current cap hit, it's fairly safe to say that the next contract he receives will be for a much lower AAV.  The Hurricanes might want to hang on to Ward.  They know what they are getting in a goaltender here.  And he most likely will not be moved prior to the trade deadline as the Hurricanes are not out of the hunt yet.

2.  James Reimer
Playing in the hotbed of hockey, there's been much talk, and speculation about Reimer's future contract possibilities with the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as other NHL teams.  The facts say that Reimer is top 20 in GAA with a 2.30 mark, and top 10 in save percentage with a .926 mark.  Reimer has held up his end of the bargain in net this season, and he's making the Maple Leafs very strongly consider re-signing, or extending him, prior to July 1.

In either case, his current cap hit of $2.3 million is bound to increase next season.  No matter what NHL team he is playing with.

3.  Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson has been a journeyman goaltender in the NHL up until this season.  He seems to have caught on with the Buffalo Sabres.  As of this post, he's seventeenth in the NHL in save percentage with a .918 mark.  His goals against average of 2.44 is nothing to sneeze at.  His cap hit of $1.3 million is relatively affordable as well.  If he's not looking for a big bump in pay, it wouldn't be surprising for the Sabres to re-sign Johnson to a short-term extension.

4. Karri Ramo
Ramo has been in net for the lion's share of the Calgary Flames games this season.  Getting into 37 contests for Calgary, Ramo has put up a 2.63 goals against average and .909 save percentage.  The 29 year-old goalie, who turns 30 on the first day of free agency this summer, has been with the Flames since the 2013-14 season, and is coming off a one-year $3.8 million contract.

5. Jonas Hiller
The other half of the Calgary goaltending duo, Hiller has not played as much as Ramo in net this season.  Still, the 34 year-old Swiss native can still play the game.  Playing the majority of the Flames' contests last season, Hiller put up a 2.36 GAA and .918 save percentage.  Those are starting goaltender numbers.  His numbers have not been as stellar this season, hence Ramo taking the majority of the starts in net for Calgary.  The question is, can Hiller continue to put up those numbers, and what salary numbers will he be looking for in 2016-17?  His current cap hit is $4.5 million, and it will almost certainly be lower than that, for whichever team he suits up for next season.

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