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Few spots left for free-agent goalies

Did Martin Biron price himself out of a job in the NHL? Looks like it.

Did Martin Biron price himself out of a job in the NHL? Looks like it.

It’s two weeks into the free-agent season and virtually every team has filled its starter and backup jobs for 2009-10.

So Biron may have to look for a job in Europe or the Kontinental League. Same with the other NHL proven UFA goalies: Manny Fernandez, Manny Legace, Martin Gerber, Brent Johnson, Joey MacDonald, Curtis Sanford, Wade Dubielewicz and Kevin Weekes. That’s nine looking-for-work stoppers and a shrunken market.

From my point of view, here are the only openings remaining and a possible outcome. Good health is presumed at this point.

Calgary might want an experienced backup to spell an overworked Miikka Kiprusoff, but Curtis McElhinney makes the $500,000 minimum and the Flames are up against the cap. Maybe one of those nine UFAs gets desperate and settles for $700,000 or $800,000.

The Los Angeles Kings maintain they’re not looking to sign a goalie and will open the season with Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg on the roster. Top prospect Jonathan Bernier will push for a job as well. A slow start may prompt the team to consider signing a veteran.

New Jersey is high on prospect Jeff Frazee to eventually spell the aging Martin Brodeur, but 50 games in the American League would be better for the 22-year-old than 15 in the NHL. There’s an opening for a backup here if they’re not happy with the recently signed Yann Denis.

There’s another opening for a backup behind Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, but his backup John Curry is 25 and it’s now or never time for him.

Evgeni Nabokov plays a lot in San Jose and the Sharks have a stable of goaltending prospects on the farm team. They’ll probably stick with 23-year-old Thomas Greiss as the 10-15 game backup.

So just a few backup openings for nine available NHL goalies.

And Biron looks to be the only one who wouldn’t be satisfied with fewer than 40 games. Start looking east of the Atlantic, Marty.

 
 
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