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Top free agent goaltenders: Hutton on the market

Ward, Bernier, Halak among those available

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the NHL free agent signing period about to begin, there are several teams in need of a starting goaltender and in the market for a backup.

NHL.com takes a closer look at the top unrestricted free agent goalies when the market opens:

 

Carter Hutton, St. Louis Blues

Hutton, 32, put together the best season of his NHL career with the Blues in 2017-18. He won 17 games, including six wins in seven starts during a stretch as the No. 1 goaltender when Jake Allen was struggling, and his 2.09 goals-against average and .931 save percentage each ranked first among goalies who played at least 20 games.

Hutton, who signed with St. Louis on July 1, 2016, is 30-15-5 with a 2.23 GAA, .923 save percentage and seven shutouts in 62 games (47 starts) with the Blues.

Signed as a free agent by the San Jose Sharks on June 1, 2010, Hutton is 63-39-17 with a 2.42 GAA, .915 save percentage and 11 shutouts in 138 NHL games (114 starts) with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Blues. He had a 3.01 GAA in three relief appearances for Nashville during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hutton went 20-11-4 with a 2.62 GAA and .910 save percentage in 40 games (34 starts) for the Predators in 2013-14, when Pekka Rinne was sidelined with a hip infection. Hutton is a late bloomer who could earn another opportunity for a team in need of a starter or reliable backup.

Possible landing spots: Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Blues

 

Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

Ward has played 668 NHL games, all with Carolina, but the 34-year-old's tenure there will end as the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers leader in wins (318) and shutouts (27). 

Selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, Ward was 23-14-4 with a 2.73 GAA, .906 save percentage and two shutouts in 43 games (42 starts) with Carolina this season. He got his 300th NHL win with a 3-2 shootout victory against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 12, 2017.

During his rookie season in 2005-06, Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by going 15-8 with a 2.14 GAA, .920 save percentage and two shutouts, helping Carolina defeat the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the Final.

Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Red Wings, Blues

Video: TBL@CAR: Ward makes a flurry of saves in front

 

Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders

A new regime led by general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz is likely to move on from Halak, who went 20-26-6 with a 3.19 GAA, .908 save percentage and one shutout during his fourth season with the Islanders in 2017-18. 

Halak, 33, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the ninth round (No. 271) of the 2003 NHL Draft. He is 232-150-48 with a 2.50 GAA, .916 save percentage and 42 shutouts in 449 NHL games (434 starts) with the Canadiens, Blues, Washington Capitals and Islanders.

He is 13-15 with a 2.39 GAA and .924 save percentage in 30 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Stars, Rangers, Blues

 

Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche

Bernier will be looking for stability and a chance to start after spending the past two seasons as the backup for the Anaheim Ducks and Avalanche. 

The 29-year-old stepped up after injuries to starters John Gibson (Ducks) and Semyon Varlamov (Avalanche). He went 19-13-3 with a 2.85 GAA, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 37 games (34 starts) this season, including a nine-game winning streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 22. He was 1-3 with a 3.87 GAA and .883 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Los Angeles Kings selected Bernier with the No. 11 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. He is 128-108-30 with a 2.68 GAA, a .914 save percentage and 16 shutouts in 289 NHL games (261 starts) with the Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ducks and Avalanche, and 2-5 with a 3.35 GAA and .885 save percentage in nine playoff games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012.

Possible landing spots: Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Islanders

Video: Potential landing spots for the top UFA goalies

 

Anton Khudobin, Boston Bruins

Khudobin enjoyed a renaissance season playing behind Tuukka Rask in 2017-18. The 32-year-old went 16-6-7, and his 2.56 GAA and .913 save percentage were his lowest and highest in a full season since 2013-14. 

Signed by the Bruins on July 1, 2016, Khudobin was 23-12-8 in in 47 games (43 starts) in two seasons with Boston. A seventh-round pick (No. 206) of the Minnesota Wild in the 2004 NHL Draft, Khudobin is 67-51-16 with a 2.47 GAA, .915 save percentage and six shutouts in 147 games (135 starts) with the Wild, Hurricanes, Ducks and Bruins. The nine-season NHL veteran could be a fit for a team looking for someone to split time with an incumbent or young starter.

Possible landing spots: Hurricanes, Stars, Red Wings, Sabres

 

Petr Mrazek, Philadelphia Flyers

Mrazek, 26, was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Flyers, making him an unrestricted free agent after he went 6-6-3 with a 3.22 GAA and .891 save percentage in 15 starts following his trade from the Red Wings on Feb. 20. He was 14-13-6 with a 3.03 GAA, .902 save percentage and four shutouts in 39 games (33 starts) with Detroit and Philadelphia. He played one game for the Flyers in their six-game loss to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round, allowing two goals on 14 shots in relief during a 7-0 loss in Game 1.

Detroit selected Mrazek in the fifth round (No. 141) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He is 78-64-23 with a 2.66 GAA, .911 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 183 NHL games (160 starts). He is 4-6 with a 1.98 GAA, .927 save percentage and three shutouts in 11 playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Hurricanes, Islanders, Rangers, Blues, Sabres

Video: PHI@PIT, Gm1: Mrazek denies Letang in close

 

Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres did not extend a qualifying offer to Lehner, 26, making him an unrestricted free agent after he went 14-26-9 with a 3.01 GAA, .908 save percentage and three shutouts in 53 games (50 starts) this season. He had NHL career highs in starts (58) and wins (23) in 2016-17.

The Ottawa Senators selected Lehner in the second round (No. 46) of the 2009 NHL Draft and traded him to Buffalo on June 26, 2015. He is 72-97-35 with a 2.82 GAA, .915 save percentage and eight shutouts in 219 NHL games (205 starts) with the Senators and Sabres, and 0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and .920 save percentage in two playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Stars, Islanders, Rangers

 

Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets

Thanks to the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg, Hutchinson spent most of this season with Manitoba of the American Hockey League, going 17-5-1 with a 2.08 GAA and .935 save percentage in 26 games. The 28-year-old was chosen by the Bruins in the third round (No. 77) of the 2008 NHL Draft and signed with the Jets as a free agent July 19, 2013.

Hutchinson won 21 NHL games in 2014-15, and is 43-39-11 with a 2.65 GAA and .910 save percentage with three shutouts in 102 games.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Oilers, Islanders, Rangers, Blues

Video: WPG@DAL: Hutchinson denies Shore and Janmark

 

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

Lehtonen, 34, spent most of 2017-18 as a backup before Ben Bishop's season-ending knee injury March 18. Lehtonen went 15-14-3 with a 2.56 GAA and .912 save percentage with one shutout in 37 games (30 starts) with the Stars, and got his 300th NHL win in a 5-2 victory against the Islanders on Dec. 13.

Lehtonen was chosen by the Atlanta Thrashers with the No. 2 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft. He is 310-233-67 with a 2.71 GAA, .912 save percentage and 38 shutouts in 649 NHL games (619 starts) with the Thrashers and Stars, and 8-9 with a 3.30 GAA and .887 save percentage in 19 playoff games (18 starts).

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Oilers

 

Ondrej Pavelec, New York Rangers

Pavelec's first and possibly only season with the Rangers was derailed when a sprained MCL sidelined the 30-year-old for six weeks. New York appears intent on Alexandar Georgiev and Marek Mazanec competing to back up Henrik Lundqvist, which will leave Pavelec seeking work. He went 4-9-1 with a 3.05 GAA, .910 save percentage and one shutout with the Rangers. 

The Thrashers chose Pavelec in the second round (No. 41) of the 2005 NHL Draft. He is 156-167-48 with a 2.88 GAA, .907 save percentage and 18 shutouts in 398 NHL games (374 starts) with the Thrashers, Jets and Rangers.

Pavelec is 0-4 with a 3.74 GAA and .891 save percentage in four playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Avalanche, Red Wings, Oilers

Video: TBL@NYR: Pavelec denies Johnson and Girardi

 

Chad Johnson, Buffalo Sabres

Johnson, 32, was 10-16-3 with a 3.55 GAA and .891 save percentage in 36 games (29 starts) with the Sabres this season. He had NHL career highs in starts (40) and wins (22) with Buffalo during the 2015-16 season.

The Penguins selected Johnson in the fifth round (No. 125) of the 2006 NHL Draft. He is 78-61-15 in 173 NHL games (153 starts) with the Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Bruins, Islanders, Flames and Sabres, and 0-1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Possible landing spots: Bruins, Avalanche, Blues

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