Every goalie wants to be a starter in the NHL. Some become hall of famers, and some are forgotten once they hang up the pads. Some good quality goalies never got a chance to be the star goalie for their clubs, and instead watch his goaltending partner live the dream. Here are 5 goalies that I think could be finding a new home this year to hopefully get a starting job in the big leagues.
5. Jhonas Enroth (Buffalo Sabres)– Enroth won’t be a starter with Ryan Miller in front of him in Buffalo. Miller was pulled Wednesday night after allowing three goals in just 6:23 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Enroth has proved in his limited NHL experience that he can be a legitimate NHL goalie, with 11 wins and 3 losses in 18 games. He is extremely quick and agile and has outstanding reflexes and solid instincts for the goaltending position. Enroth has good anticipation and performs well under pressure and will get you wins on a weak team. Although Buffalo has Ryan Miller signed for the next three seasons, Enroth has carved a role for himself as a back-up to Miller, unless he gets traded. Enroth is very consistent, and has shown the ability to carry his team in big games, and can steal games for your team. He lacks the ideal size of an NHL goaltender, and nobody knows whether he can can carry the load for any team for an entire season, but there is not doubting his skill and the ability to win.
4. Steve Mason (Columbus Blue Jackets)- Steve Mason had to live up to big expectations after winning the Calder trophy for rookie of the year in 2008-2009. But he was never able to live up to them, with 44 wins and 47 losses in the last 2 years combined. His goals-against and save percentage have been just awful, with an average of 3.04GAA and .901SP. He was outplayed by former Blue Jacket Mathieu Garon during this time, yet still received the most starts. He must play with more consistency in order to maximize his National Hockey League potential as a starting netminder. With 2 more years left on his contract at $2.9M per, Mason better step up, or he may not have a job once his deal is up. He only has 2 wins so far this season, so the team could be looking to shake up the goaltending this year, whether its getting someone to play alongside Mason, or sending him on his way.
3. Jonathan Bernier (LA Kings)- Many teams have reportedly been interested in Bernier, but right now the Kings don’t look like they are going to trade him anytime soon. Bernier is a hybrid stand-up and butterfly goaltender with great reflexes, is very quick moving from post-to-post with tremendous puck-handling skills around the net. Bernier has proved he can be a dominant goalie in any level, but he doesn’t have a chance behind Jonathan Quick, who set a team record last week with 3 straight shut outs. He can steal a game all on his own, and is also capable of shaking off bad goals, but hasn’t had a strong start to the season. He has gone 0-2-0, with a 3.56 GAA and .857 SP so far this year. Bernier earned a lot of hype since getting drafted in 2006, but some think he was put into action too early. He played his first 4 games in 2007, but has only played 30 games since, and hasn’t shown enough to prove he belongs as the Kings starting goalie. More playing time would really benefit his career.
2. Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks)- Schneider currently is the backup for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, and while he has been getting more chances to play early in the season with Luongo slumping, Luongo is still the go to guy. Schneider is a fundamentally sound goaltender with superb quickness for a big goaltender. He gets down in the butterfly position, and then back up faster then most goalies in the NHL. He does an outstanding job of taking away the lower portion of the net, and moves very well. There is no doubting he has the ability to be a starting goalie at this level, but like many young, talented backup goalies, all he needs is a chance. He has been more impressive than Luongo this season, but when the starting goalie with tons of success (except for playoffs) is making $6,716,000 and the backup is making $900,000, you hope that the more expensive guy is in between the pipes for the majority of the year. Schneider’s salary is one thing that will attract tons of teams looking for a starting goalie . No goalie has forced Luongo to sit on the bench as much as Schneider has during the latter’s career. But due to Luongo’s weak play, Schneider won’t be moved any time soon.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky (Philadelphia Flyers)- Like Schneider, Bobrovsky may not be heading anywhere until their team’s respective starters get the job done. Sergei was easily one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL last year, going 28 and 13 in 54 games as the Flyers starter last year. When playoff time game, Bobrovsky was unspectacular, with 0 wins in 6 games. But, keep in mind, the team used 3 different goaltenders during the spring, and none of them got the job done. Over the summer, the Flyers acquired Ilya Bryzgalov, an elite starting goalie looking for a chance to win his second Stanley Cup. Bobrovsky, who was one of the NHL’s big surprises last year, was shuffled to the bench. But so far, Bobrovsky has won both of his starts, and was great in both wins, while Bryzgalov (4 wins, and 1 loss) has been solid, but blames himself for his teams losses. A few teams have shown interest in Bobrovsky, so if the Flyers do in fact shop him, look for a team like New Jersey or Columbus to pick him up.
Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.