In a season where virtually no starting goaltender’s job was safe, we saw Montreal, Washington, and Ottawa all swap their starting goaltenders in an effort to shift momentum back in their favour but what does that mean for next season?
In Washington, it’s no secret that Jose Theodore was unanimously disliked as a starter by the Capitals but they didn’t really have any other options. Varlamov didn’t provide much of an alternative coming back from his injury in February so they had to stick the regular season out with Theo. Sure enough, 2 quick goals in 8 minutes was enough for Boudreau to turn back to last season’s playoff hero, essentially punching Theodore’s ticket out of town. Since all signs seem to point to Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth taking over the Capitals’ goal next season, Varlamov should elevate into a top-15 goalie. As for Theo, he’ll definitely have to take a paycut from his current $4.5-million salary most likely with another team.
Montreal finally gets to decide between their two top RFAs, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Unfortunately for the Habs’ future, that decision could come down to these 7 postseason games. Price’s 3.98 playoff GAA and paltry regular season performance might send him packing if he demands more than the Habs are willing to give their former first rounder to be a backup goalie next season. Price has the talent to be a top goalie and could be the big RFA deal of this offseason. Halak has been the definition of consistency for Montreal this season and will likely command major money after being a large part of the team’s success. In an NHL where having two high-priced goalies is detrimental to your cap position, Halak’s value will rise substantially if Price is out of the picture.
Everything seemed to be all fine and dandy with Ottawa’s goaltending situation coming into the playoffs after Elliott’s career year but struggles in the 4th game vs. Pittsburgh forced Ottawa to go back to Pascal Leclaire, their original starting goalie for the season. Leclaire, however, was nothing special in his 2.5 playoff games and didn’t have a GAA less than 3.00 since November and didn’t record a win after December. Nothing to worry about here as Leclaire could open the season in the AHL next season given Mike Brodeur’s solid play with the big club and Brian Elliott as the 2010-11 starter – barring any offseason moves.