23 Intently Staring Goalies
by lsefton on 08/08/12 at 07:58 PM ET
How slow is it? It’s so slow that the curent number one goalie story is about whether Cristobal Huet will go with the Kings or the Canucks
When the travails and travels of a soon to be 37 year old French goalie is covered in minutiae by the hockey press, you know there isn’t much going on.
But go on we shall.
So, what’s the deal here? You can look at it from two ways—that the Canucks and the Kings are getting ready to jettison a goaltender, and they’d like to have a seasoned goaltender in place, either to be the backup, or be the insurance in case their first choice of backup doesn’t work out.
Or you could look at it from the other direction—that Huet’s agent has decided that these are the two teams most likely to jettison, and would be the most likely customers for Huet’s wares.
Here’s the question—is Huet better than anyone else available to play the role of Wade Flaherty for either team? Huet may not be less expensive, since he’s now a free agent after having been loaned out by the Blackhawks to HC Fribourg-Gotteron SA of the Swiss National League to relieve the Blackhawks salary cap issues. That gives you some idea of where Huet places in the goalie hierarchy. If he was truly much better than what the Blackhawks had in goal, they might have made an attempt to play him. If another team thought he was worth that huge contract ($5.625 million /yr), they might have made an attempt at a trade.
Nothing happened, or at least nothing happened to the point where there was any whisper of a move.
Huet may not be a $5 million goalie. Is he a $1 million goalie? In the 2011-2012 season, goalies signed as backups were making as low as $525,000 to upwards of $1.5 million.
If it’s Vancouver, and they can trade Luongo without a salary deal, they’ll likely come out ahead. LA, with savvy Trader Dean dealing the cards may be able to trade Bernier to a team wiling to give up draft picks or some prospects. In either case, Huet may be exactly what they are looking for—someone who could play 15-20 games, with the understanding that he’s not part of long term plans.
Kevin Woodley of InGoal magazine has a interview with Huet, who gives his thoughts on his future in the NHL:
Cristobal Huet has become the goalie the National Hockey League forgot, exiled to Switzerland not because he couldn’t play in the world’s best league, but because his level of play didn’t match an expensive contract in Chicago.
So the Blackhawks, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with Huet on the bench in favor of Antti Niemi, and facing a salary cap crunch that would break up their championship roster forever, sent Huet and the remaining two seasons of a four-year, $22.4-million contract overseas, where it didn’t count against the cap.
Now, with that $5.625-million per season deal expired, Huet is a free agent once again. And with NHL teams scrambling for experienced backup help after Martin Biron re-signed with the Rangers and Johan Hedberg made it clear to suitors he planned to stay in New Jersey, they could do a lot worse than Huet.
The French-born stopper is eager to prove he should still be in the NHL.
“I still belong, I’m better than some other guys, and I’d like another shot,” Huet told InGoal Magazine from Europe, adding his agent had talked to “a few” NHL teams. “I’d love to come back, but I know once you are out of the League a little bit guys tend to forget about you and that’s the nature of the beast. But I still think I have something to show in the NHL, and to prove I still belong there. For me it would be a great second chance to come back and play in the best league.”
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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies
23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.
On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.
I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.
We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.
It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!