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FILE - In this April 11, 2014, file photo, St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller reaches for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Dallas.

Associated Press

This is not the year to be a free agent goaltender.

All 30 teams – save for perhaps rebuilding Calgary – look set at the No. 1 position. Many also have backups in place, of varying quality, and some teams even have three NHL-calibre goaltenders signed and ready to play.

Goal is always a weird position in free agency as there are so few spots that it becomes a bit like musical chairs. Miss your opportunity, and you might not get one until there's an injury during the year.

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That's the position that Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller are in right now, looking for an opening with July 1 approaching. What they really need is a team dissatisfied with their No. 1 willing to make a bold move, as if you look around the league depth chart, there doesn't appear to be a great fit for either without a trade being made.

What follows below is a quick look at the goalie depth chart around the league, which currently shows 11 eight backup spots open. Keep in mind that these spots may be filled with young players in the organization (like Michael Hutchinson in Winnipeg) or some of the free agents listed on the right.

Teams

Established goalies

UFA

Anaheim

Andersen

Gibson

Hiller

Arizona

Smith

- none -

Greiss

Boston

Rask

Svedberg

C. Johnson

Buffalo

Enroth

Neuvirth

 

Calgary

Ramo

- none -

MacDonald

Carolina

Khudobin

Ward

Peters

Chicago

Crawford

Raanta

Khabibulin

Colorado

Varlamov

Berra

 

Columbus

Bobrovsky

McElhinney

 

Dallas

Lehtonen

- none -

Thomas

Detroit

Howard

Gustavsson

 

Edmonton

Scrivens

Fasth

 

Florida

Luongo

Ellis

 

Los Angeles

Quick

Jones

 

Minnesota

Kuemper

Backstrom/Harding

Bryzgalov

Montreal

Price

Budaj/Tokarski

 

Nashville

Rinne

Hutton

 

New Jersey

Schneider

- none -

Brodeur

NY Islanders

Halak

- none -

Nabokov

NY Rangers

Lundqvist

Talbot

 

Ottawa

Anderson

Lehner

 

Philadelphia

Mason

- none -

Emery

Pittsburgh

Fleury

Zatkoff

Vokoun

San Jose

Niemi

Stalock

 

St. Louis

Elliott

Allen

Miller

Tampa Bay

Bishop

- none -

 

Toronto

Bernier

Reimer

 

Vancouver

Lack

Markstrom*

 

Washington

Holtby

- none -

 

Winnipeg

Pavelec

- none -

Montoya


*- status uncertain

Beyond Miller and Hiller, the most intriguing names available are Martin Brodeur (for obvious reasons), Tim Thomas (if he doesn't retire) and younger goalies like Justin Peters, Al Montoya, Chad Johnson and Thomas Greiss.

They're all basically gambles due to their age or inexperience and, given the market, aren't going to be able to find much of a payday.

Then there are reclamation projects like Devan Dubnyk, who can likely be had for very little as he attempts to get his career back on track.

Where James Reimer ends up is another big question mark as it's expected the Leafs will move him for some kind of an asset with Jonathan Bernier in line for 60-plus starts as the No. 1.

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You'll note there are quite a few more names in the UFA column compared to the openings, which means this is likely the end of the line for quite a few goalies. It's a tough position that way, where every young kid like John Gibson that comes in and excels means one fewer job.

This year, it's going to be tougher than ever to sign a big deal as a goalie, which makes this the one position where no one's likely to cash in. Teams, if they're smart, can use that to get a solid backup at a discount price.

Buyouts: None

Trade candidates: Ward, Niemi, Reimer, Budaj

Notable RFAs: Reimer, Kuemper, Raanta, Lehner, Hutchinson

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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