NHL Free Agent Predictions: Where Top Available Goaltenders Will Land

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 17: Goalie Dan Ellis #38 of the Anaheim Ducks stretches during a game against the Winnipeg Jets in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 17, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

With the NHL free agency period amping up to be one of the most exciting ones in recent memory, goaltending will surely be a top priority for many teams.

Even though many contenders have locked down the goalie spot long term with star performers, back-up goaltending is one of the most underrated positions in sports. The wear and tear of a NHL season makes starting every game impossible for these goalies, and a solid backup can often times start as many as 20 or 30 games.

We saw the St. Louis Blues pull off a one-two combination last season with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott that allowed them to enjoy a stellar regular season and finish second in the Western Conference. 

Let's take a look at the most coveted free-agent goalies in the league and where they should end up.


Martin Brodeur

Brodeur has seen his name become one of the most talked about names in free agency this offseason due to his stellar playoff run. Not very many people (myself included) expected that he still could play at that level.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11:  Goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils makes a save on Jarret Stoll #28 of the Los Angeles Kings in Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The King
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The three-time Stanley Cup champion hasn't even decided yet whether or not he'll return to the NHL or retire, but it seems like he's more likely to come back. The Devils are far and away the favorite to land him from their deep history together, and New Jersey is probably willing to put money on the 40-year-old playing well next season.

It should be the last contract of Brodeur's career, and he'll want it to be with the team that drafted him 22 years ago.

Destination: New Jersey Devils


Scott Clemmensen

Clemmensen is quietly one of the best goalies available in this year's free agent class.

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 24:  Scott Clemmensen #30 of the Florida Panthers reacts after he gave up the game-winning goal in overtime against Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanle
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The Florida Panther had a solid season in 2011-12 as a part of a wide range of goalies on the roster. But it looks like he won't be valued in Florida as much as he would be on a team that needs him more.

If Clemmensen wants a chance to be a permanent backup in this league, which is what he's best at from his time behind Brodeur in New Jersey, then he'll be best set to depart.

The Toronto Maple Leafs could use him the most to split time with youngster James Reimer. The 34-year-old would bring experience and would be a cheap get for Toronto.

Destination: Toronto Maple Leafs


Dan Ellis

The 32-year-old Ellis has seen his fortunes change as a goaltender since he left Nashville, and that could be just the thing to get his career back on track.

He's struggled as a part of Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks teams and has fallen below the average production mark for goaltenders in the league. However, he was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL for a few seasons with the Predators.

It could be a matter of luck, or it could be that Ellis fits better in Nashville's defensive system. 

Besides, after trading away reliable backup Anders Lindback this summer, the Predators are in desperate need of a solid backup to Pekka Rinne.

Destination: Nashville Predators


    Holtby Retains Starting Job for Capitals

    NHL logo

    Holtby Retains Starting Job for Capitals

    via NHL.com

    Don't Be Fooled: Pens Are Still Cup Contenders

    NHL logo

    Don't Be Fooled: Pens Are Still Cup Contenders

    NBC Sports
    via NBC Sports

    Humboldt Fundraising Ends with $15M Raised

    NHL logo

    Humboldt Fundraising Ends with $15M Raised

    Sean Leahy
    via ProHockeyTalk

    Sharks Sweep Anaheim, Get Golden Knights Next

    NHL logo

    Sharks Sweep Anaheim, Get Golden Knights Next

    NBCS Bay Area
    via NBCS Bay Area