The NHL offseason is underway and teams are already taking aim at the 2014 Stanley Cup. Few positions in sports are as pivotal as a goaltender on the ice, so it's no surprise a slew of netminders are set to attract attention from various teams.
We've see goalies rise up and carry organizations through postseasons on an annual basis, and these backstops could fill a missing link for several squads. From established veterans to unproven youngsters, here's a look at goalies who will garner significant interest on the free-agent market this summer.
Evgeni Nabokov's second season with the Islanders didn't end well. New York appeared primed to upset top-seeded Pittsburgh in the team's first playoff appearance since 2007, as Jonathan Tavares and company kept pace with a potent Penguins offensive attack.
Nabokov needed a few big games to even the playing field but he was unable to handle Pittsburgh and New York fell in six games. The Russian finished the series with a 4.44 GAA and .842 save percentage.
During the regular season, the 37-year-old was more reliable. He stopped 91 percent of shots fired against him, accumulating a 2.50 GAA and three shutouts in 41 starts.
Nabakov, a former San Jose standout, will be 38 before next season begins but still would serve as a valuable part of a platoon between the pipes.
Lost in the shuffle of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask's outstanding playoff run was the regular-season performance of Bruins backup Anton Khudobin. The Russian received the most substantial portion of play in his NHL career during 2013.
Khudobin, who had never started more than three games through three years with Minnesota and Boston, held up tremendously. He compiled a 9-4-1 record with a 2.32 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Still just 27 years old, Khudobin could search for a starting job or accept a No. 2 role on an established contender.
Ray Emery may not have been the man in net during Chicago's run to a Stanley Cup title, but he played a pivotal role during a tremendous regular season. The Blackhawks rounded out the regular season with the league's top record and Emery contributed mightily.
He finished the regular season with sterling statistics. Emery went 17-1 with a 1.94 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Although he didn't receive any action during the postseason, Emery is squarely on the radar of numerous teams.
Ilya Bryzgalov became an easily identifiable scapegoat after a disastrous Flyers season that ended shy of the playoffs. The Russian impressed in Phoenix but failed to live up to expectations after landing a nine-year, $51 million deal.
Philadelphia opted to buyout Bryzgalov in late June, flinging him on the list of unrestricted free agents. He compiled a 2.79 GAA and .900 save percentage in 2013.
His streakiness is scary, particularly for a team planning to contend for a title, but he is brilliant at times. You can bet there are a number of teams willing to bank on the potential of Bryzgalov gaining some semblance of consistency.
Rask is a restricted free agent and it's practically impossible to see him departing Bean Town, but he's available for an offer sheet so he lands atop this list. The 26-year-old came up huge throughout Boston's run to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup.
He finished the regular season with a record of 19-10-5 and a 2.00 GAA. Rask recorded five regular-season shutouts and added three more blankings during the playoffs.
He elevated his game in the postseason, picking up three shutouts. His 1.88 GAA helped the team last more than a month without suffering a regulation loss in the postseason (May 12-June 24).
Rask's impending free agency couldn't have arrived at a better time.