NHL Free Agents 2012: Maple Leafs and More Teams Who Must Add Goaltending
The NHL free agency period kicked off Sunday with several teams jockeying for position to land the premier players. Most teams will focus their attention on adding skilled offensive, or defensive, players, but others will try to bolster last season's faulty presence between the pipes.
NHL teams don't necessarily need the league's best goaltender to win the Stanley Cup, but having a competent netminder is necessary to Stanley Cup playoff hopes.
Let's take a look at which teams must make a free-agent upgrade in net.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs lost Jonas Gustavsson's signing rights in a trade with Winnipeg prior to the NHL Draft. That leaves James Reimer as their sole option at this point.
Last year, Reimer allowed over three goals per game in 34 appearances. He's far from proven, and Toronto would benefit from adding anyone to the fold.
Ideally the Maple Leafs would land Scott Clemmensen, but he re-signed with Florida on a two-year deal Saturday. Al Montoya and Martin Brodeur are two other options, but they are far less likely.
Toronto needs help in other areas as well, but they don't have a prayer of making the playoffs with Reimer as their current backstop.
The Jets can't afford to give Ondrej Pavelec another full season between the pipes. Winnipeg is far from an offensive powerhouse so they must win through their defense.
Last year, Pavelec won 29 games and allowed less than three goals a game. He didn't have a terrible year, but he's not the goalie Winnipeg needs. If the rest of the team were stronger, he would stand a much better chance at success.
The free-agent options are few and far between, but the Jets need to bolster their goaltending. Either that, or they need to improve their offense overnight. With Evander Kane on the market, and his future uncertain, that becomes more paramount.
The Blackhawks used Ray Emery and Corey Crawford in net last year. Neither are elite, but both are under contract through next year.
According Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, this situation could be solved in the near future.
The NHL's all-time wins leader in goal, Martin Brodeur, is drawing interest from theChicago Blackhawks, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. And a separate source indicated that Brodeur has mutual interest in the Hawks.
Signing Brodeur would be a major coup for the Chicago brass. It's their team's only glaring hole, and he's an experienced playoff performer. He would only be a short-term filler, but that would be suitable for the time being.
The Blackhawks have an elite array of open-ice players. If they add an above-average goalie, they could vault to the top of every NHL power ranking.
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