It seems like the Stars are looking for goaltending every offseason because, well, they kind of are. Antti Niemi didn’t work. Kari Lehtonen has been ok, but he’s now about to head into free agency. Ben Bishop is going to be here for a while, but there are no prospects beating down the door to take a backup NHL job yet.
So, once again, the Stars are going to have to dip into the market to find a goalie. Maybe it’s simply Lehtonen. Lehtonen on a pay cut could be fine, but what if there are better options out there? The theory out there seems to be that the Stars skaters go into a mental meltdown when Lehtonen consistently plays. I don’t know that I buy it as a big driver of problems. I do see what other people see: something does look different. If you’re of the mind that this is a real thing then it makes sense to at least see what the goalie marketplace has to offer unless Lehtonen is willing to sign for league minimum or something nutty.
I hit up Cap Friendly to pull the list of free agent goalies this offseason, both restricted and unrestricted. From that list I knocked off a bunch of AHL guys and restricted guys that make absolutely zero sense. I left some on that make zero sense, but not absolutely zero sense.
From there I pulled even strength save percentage and expected save percentage numbers from the last five years from Corsica to see which goalies exceeded expectations the most. As a point of reference, Ben Bishop has basically nailed his expected save percentage over the last two years.
The last column shows the added value of each keeper at even strength.
This list isn’t the most encouraging, but it’s what we have to work with right now. For the purposes of finding the Stars a second goalie we’re going to eliminate Connor Hellebuyck. He isn’t leaving the Jets and he sure as hell isn’t leaving the Jets to join the Stars to split time with Bishop.
We’re also going to eliminate all of the guys below Lehtonen. If Lehtonen is attainable, what sense does it make to consider guys who have performed worse than he has?
That pool of candidates now looks like Andrew Hammond, Juuse Saros, Philipp Grubauer, Jaroslav Halak, Antti Raanta, Petr Mrazek, and Lehtonen.
To weed the group down a bit more I went back to Corsica and pulled their penalty killing numbers. It wouldn’t be fair to just ignore what happens shorthanded now would it?
The two premier restricted free agents head to the top of the list. As good as Grubauer and Saros have been it would be a waste of resources for the Stars to pick either up unless they planned to turn the starting job over to them one year after signing Bishop to a long term deal. I don’t see it.
I’m sure there exists a scenario where you could convince me that doing so would be a good idea, but I don’t know what that scenario entails. I’m also not who would need the most convincing. Bishop has little reason to waive his no movement clause. It’s all just too messy.
This same logic is why spending trade capital on a goalie isn’t ideal. Why trade for Mrazek or an unidentified goalie under contract when other options that only cost cash exist? It’s just too messy. I guess the point is this: don’t trade for a goalie unless the free agents get stupid deals. I can’t imagine all four getting actual money though.
Raanta and Halak have starting experience. Either could sign on with a team offering a more direct opportunity to start, but the Stars offer an opportunity for either guy to boost their stock for the next offseason. Bishop has had some injury issues. Either guy is probably starting 35+ games here.
Does 35 games behind a good defensive team increase the chances of either one of them getting legitimate money after the upcoming season? For Halak, maybe not given his age. He did get waived while making 4.5 million, and no one claimed him.
Raanta is 28. He’s coming off of his first season as a starter with the Coyotes. Give him a season as an almost starter behind a team as talented as the Stars. If he does what he usually does he’s going to get a good contract from a team in need of a starter.
If both are gone, can Hammond be had for less than Lehtonen? He’s been awful on the penalty kill in the NHL, but it’s only 200 something minutes so, what, about 20 full power plays? If he can be had cheaply that might be worth a flier. Plus, the guy eats hamburgers thrown on the ice from fans. I feel like he’d fit in.
Maybe Halak or Raanta find real starting jobs this offseason with teams on the rise. If they do, good for them. Maybe Lehtonen gives the Stars enough of a deal that considering Hammond isn’t worth the risk. The Stars should at least wait until the offseason before committing to Lehtonen as the backup given the potential availability of two demonstrably superior goalies and a third who can likely match Lehtonen, all of whom might be attainable for a similar cost.
And for the love of God don’t trade a mid to late round pick for the privilege of negotiating with a potential back up goalie. Please.
The feel better music part needs to come at the end. I don’t need previews for Serious Hockey Stories to be full of me rambling about songs I love. I don’t need to scare people away until after they read about hockey.
I don’t even remember how I came across The Briefs back in the day. I do remember buying their entire CD catalog at Warped Tour, in like 2006, from the BYO booth followed by them breaking up not too far afterwards.
I listen to this song an unhealthy amount. The song is so criminally poppy, and the lyrics are absurd. It’s just several situations where Steve E. Nix (yes) is getting hit on in moderately inappropriate situations followed by him saying “what kind of man do you think I am?”
They will feature in this section more and more over time if I keep doing it. Their album Sex Objects is p-h-e-n-o-m-e-n-a-l. I love them and my quest to prove that my musical taste is acceptable will continue.