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Veteran goalies remain on free-agent market

by Dan Rosen

Tuesday was a whirlwind of activity in the NHL, with more than 75 unrestricted free agents finding new teams. But there are still some players remaining on the open market and looking for work, either with the club they played for in 2013-14 or one that has a hole it's looking to fill.

Here's a look at some of the top unrestricted free agents still available:


Daniel Alfredsson

Previous team: Detroit Red Wings

Position: RW

Age: 41

Last contract: 1 year, $3.5 million ($2 million available in performance bonuses)

The Detroit Free Press has reported Alfredsson wants to return to Detroit, but his aching back might be a problem. The Red Wings have to decide if the reward they could get with Alfredsson in the lineup is worth the risk of re-signing him, even if it's on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.

Alfredsson tied with Niklas Kronwall for the Red Wings lead with 49 points last season. He missed 14 regular-season games and two of Detroit's five Stanley Cup Playoff games with injuries.


Sami Salo

Previous team: Tampa Bay Lightning

Age: 39

Last contract: 2 years, $7.5 million

Salo is in a tough spot. He'll be 40 when the 2014-15 season opens. He doesn't move as well as he used to. His best hockey is clearly behind him. But he can still play and contribute on a contending team.

Salo had 17 points and a plus-11 rating in 71 games with the Lightning last season. He averaged 18:11 of ice time per game and had a 52.0 Corsi-for rating. He was reliable on the back end and helped drive possession for a team that was No. 10 in Corsi (51.5).

Chris Butler

Previous team: Calgary Flames

Age: 27

Last contract: 1 year, $1.7 million

Butler might be the ideal candidate for a young team looking to fill out its defense. He's at the right age and figures to come at the right price. There would be no pressure to slot him into a top-pair role. He can fit in on the second pair, but he might be at his best in a third-pair role.

He was minus-23 last season, but that's a misleading number considering the Flames had problems in goal and were 24th in goals-against at 2.90 per game. The more concerning number is Butler's 42.8 Corsi-for rating, down from 44.1 in 2012-13.

Those numbers are not all Butler's fault. The Flames as a whole had a bad rating (45.8, 27th in the NHL). Butler's possession numbers might rise if he plays on a better team, but he risks being the odd man out if he signs with a contender.


Martin Brodeur

Previous team: New Jersey Devils

Age: 42

Last contract: 2 years, $9 million

The Devils and Brodeur are parting for sure after New Jersey signed Scott Clemmensen on Tuesday. Arguably the best goalie to ever play the game will test the market and is unlikely to return to his only team.

Cory Schneider will be the Devils' No. 1 goalie and Brodeur didn't want to stand in the way of that. He also doesn't want to go into a season knowing he might play 20-25 games. Brodeur has said he wants to go to a contending team, but that team also has to be willing to give him playing time, perhaps as many as 40 games, or more.

He said he can be a starter despite finishing 47th in save percentage (.901) among goalies who appeared in at least 25 games last season. He hasn't finished with a save percentage better than .908 since his .916 in 2009-10.

Tim Thomas

Previous team: Dallas Stars

Age: 40

Last contract: 1 year, $3.75 million

Thomas returned to the NHL last season after taking a year off and proved he can still play. But his numbers, even though he played 40 games with the Florida Panthers, left a lot to be desired. He had a 2.87 GAA and .909 save percentage with the Panthers, and a 2.97 GAA and .902 save percentage in eight games with the Stars after he was acquired in early March.

Thomas won't be back in Dallas. He might retire, or say he's taking another year off, if he doesn't find the right situation for himself. Thomas could wait until training camp or later to see which team might need a goalie then before ironing out his immediate future. He has never been in a rush and certainly won't be now.

Tomas Vokoun

Previous team: Pittsburgh Penguins

Age: 37

Last contract: 2 years, $4 million

Vokoun, who turns 38 on July 2, could be an intriguing and cheap option for a team looking to solidify its goaltending with an experienced backup who could turn into a No. 1. He sat out last season because of blood clots, but he's healthy now and ready to return.

Vokoun hasn't appeared in a NHL game in almost 13 months (June 7, 2013), but he practiced with the Penguins for the final four months of the season and appeared in some minor-league games in April. He had a 2.45 GAA and .919 save percentage in 20 appearances with the Penguins in 2012-13.

Ilya Bryzgalov

Previous team: Minnesota Wild

Age: 34

Last contract: 1 year, $2 million

Bryzgalov was a valuable player for the Wild after they acquired him in a trade March 4. He helped them beat the Colorado Avalanche in a seven-game first-round playoff series and was serviceable (2.13 GAA, .904 save percentage) against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.

Bryzgalov likely will have to join a team as a backup, and probably on a one-year contract considering his age and lack of leverage. He might be in a similar spot as Thomas in that he'll have to wait until late in the summer or potentially until after training camp starts to find his next NHL home. Going home to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League is an option.

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