What Kind Of Free Agency Options Are The Sabres Looking At? Part One – Back-Up Goaltending
With free agency beginning on Thursday, I’ll be penning a series of posts analyzing what the Sabres’ UFA and RFA options might be at each position that’ll run from today through Wednesday. My opening entry will focus on finding Ryan Miller a new best friend and back-up for the 2010-2011 season and maybe beyond.
*All three entries will have data powered by Cap Geek and Hockey DB.
A couple of decisions can be made right now regarding looking for a possible back-up for Ryan Miller: No RFAs will be considered by Darcy and neither will any goaltender paid over $2M last season. If you factor in veteran status, there are five goaltenders that immediately appear on the radar: Johan Hedberg, Dan Ellis, Marty Biron, Alex Auld, and the retention of Patrick Lalime.
Born May 5 1973 — Leksand, Sweden
Height 5.11 — Weight 180 — Shoots L
2009/2010 Salary: $1.0875M
Pros: Good goaltender, plays well from the back-up position, great in shootouts, has awesome nickname (Moose).
Cons: Playing for a terrible Atlanta team for the last four years has probably worn him right out, age is getting up there for a hockey player (37).
Born Jun 19 1980 — Saskatoon, SASK
Height 6.00 — Weight 193 — Shoots L
2009/2010 Salary: $2M
Pros: Talented goaltender, spent time with the excellent goaltending system in Nashville, relatively young for a veteran.
Cons: Will be courted to play as a starter, most likely.
Born Aug 15 1977 — Lac St. Charles, PQ
Height 6.03 — Weight 180 — Shoots L
2009/2010 Salary: $1.4M
Pros: Knows Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi’s systems, instills confidence in Lindy Ruff regarding using his back-up, fantastic locker-room guy.
Cons: May still be entertaining thoughts of being a starting goaltender, charms the pants of every woman that sees his eyes.
Born Jan 7 1981 — Cold Lake, ALTA
Height 6.05 — Weight 221 — Shoots R
2009/2010 Salary: $1M
Pros: Solid if not flashy, youngest of all five possibilities, performs well regardless of talent in front of him.
Cons: Might want to test his chances on the market to get signed as a starter.
Born Jul 7 1974 — St. Bonaventure, PQ
Height 6.03 — Weight 189 — Shoots L
2009/2010 Salary: $1M
Pros: Knows the Sabres’ goaltending systems already, knows his teammates already, can play well with a string of starts.
Cons: Also getting up there in age (36), over-commits and doesn’t have the youth left to fix himself, Sabres haven’t extended a back-up goaltender since Biron left.
When you analyze the stats, salaries, and facts, all signs point to one Martin Gaston Biron coming back “home” to play for the Buffalo Sabres. My reasoning (and also my friend Jay’s) is that an intangible he brings that no other goaltender does is the ability to earn Lindy Ruff’s trust to start him more often, keeping Miller rested. Let it be known that I am not on the Biron bandwagon (my personal choices would be Hedberg or Ellis), but it is impossible to argue what he would bring to this squad.