NHL Free-Agents, Day 1: The Goalie Musical Chairs

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NHL Free-Agents, Day 1: The Goalie Musical Chairs

The end of an NHL season is always an exciting time. The Entry Draft is a great opportunity for a fan to see which direction their team is going with regard to the future. Hoping that the next all-star college kid ends up playing in your city, and getting a look inside of the general manager's head as he chooses some of the next generation of players, is a decent way to build hope.

This hope usually takes a few years to come to fruition, however. The real fun starts now.

July: The start of free agency, when every team looks to improve their Stanley Cup chances immediately. This is when big moves are made that impact the very next season, and when fans should be paying the most attention. This year, a lot of teams are looking to retool their lineups, and most are starting with the hardest job in hockey. The goalie.

Several teams jumped into signing a new goaltender this year—eight, to be exact—and these netminders didn't have to wait long.

Patrick Lalime wasn't re-signed by Chicago and ended up having to settle for a backup job in Buffalo.

The Blackhawks needed a goalie that could perform, and found Cristobal Huet waiting for a new chance to prove himself after Washington failed to get past the Flyers in the first round. With Olaf Kolzig packing his things as he heads for Tampa Bay, this left the Capitals' starter position very open.

Colorado felt that Jose Theodore didn't earn the amount he wanted, especially after his horrible performance against Detroit in the playoffs. Washington felt Theodore was worth enough to replace Huet and snatched him up within hours.

Now we have a large opening on the Avalanche's roster with most believing Peter Budaj isn't ready to be a starter. Colorado picked up Toronto's starter, Andrew Raycroft, which isn't a great choice in my opinion. Expect to see Budaj and Raycroft competing in 2008-09, as neither one had an outstanding season last year.

I think you're starting to see a pattern here, so on to who Toronto grabbed. After Calgary pulled him out of retirement, Curtis Joseph feels he may have a shot to prove himself next season. "CuJo" is going back to the Maple Leafs, where he played for four years, from 1998 to 2002.

Other notable changes include Pittsburgh backup Ty Conklin going to Detroit and Boston's Alex Auld heading to Ottawa, and these are just the goaltender changes.

Many good players have been retained by their current teams, keeping the changes on the front lines to a minimum. There is still plenty of time for this to change in the coming months, yet I doubt anything will be as eventful as this game of goalie musical chairs.

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