It seemed like there had never been so many netminders available on the free-agent market than there was this summer. Which was good news for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, who are in need of a strong backup goalie to make a difference in the long season to come.
On Saturday, just a few hours before the official start of the free-agency season, there was a lot of action around the pending free agents goalies, looking for new homes. In a matter of a few hours, three names were off the market, leaving the Islanders and Bruins still without a good solution in between the pipes.
It was first reported by TSN Insider Darren Dreger that the Detroit Red Wings are likely to add Jonathan Bernier to their roster Sunday, along with veteran defenseman Mike Green and potentially forward Thomas Vanek as well.
When Bernier signs the contract in Detroit tomorrow, it is expected to be a three-year deal with the team.
Not long after, it became almost certain that former Carolina Hurricanes veteran goalie Cam Ward would accept a one-year contract with the Blackhawks. The Hawks appear to remain unsure about the condition of star goaltender Corey Crawford, who was out most of the season with post concussion symptoms. The goaltending situation in Chicago was a complete mess this past season and Crawford’s injury was one of the main reasons the Hawks missed out on the postseason for the first time in 11 seasons.
Ward is expected to bring some stability and security to the Hawks, who hope to get back in playoff contention as early as next spring.
Finally, another net minding free agent was Eddie Lack, who had played the last year of his previous two-year contract, is now off the market. Lack accepted a one-year contract extension, worth $650,000 with the New Jersey Devils.
While a somewhat insignificant signing, Lack will bring some much needed protection in New Jersey as starter Cory Schneider underwent hip surgery in the summer and could be coming back to action only in late September or early October.
The Bruins are officially without their own backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who will be testing the market tomorrow. Speaking at the end of Bruins development camp, general manager Don Sweeney noted that talks with all of the team's free agents remain ongoing, but that "the goaltending (situation) is going in a different direction" -- signalling a more than likely end to Khudobin's tenure with the Bruins.
NHL insider Darren Dreger has already linked him to the Dallas Stars.
There could be interest for veteran Jaroslav Halak, or Ottawa Senators starting goalie Craig Anderson, who is reportedly seeking a trade. We will have to see how things unfold on the market.