Jordan Binnington leads the restricted free agent goalie class for 2019, but who else deserves attention heading into the summer?
Jordan Binnington|Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images
Tired of hearing about Jordan Binnington yet? Too bad, because his contract situation is one of the most interesting ones this summer.
Binnington, a restricted free agent this summer, doesn’t have a large body of work given how inconsistent he was in the AHL before getting his big break midway through this season, but he has been great since taking the No. 1 job in St. Louis and steady since stealing the spotlight against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round.
As colleague Matt Larkin pointed out, the Blues have a couple of options with Binnington’s contract. You can bet the Blues will use his lack of NHL experience as a detractor in contract negotiations, while Binnington’s camp will point out that if it wasn’t for Binnington, there’s no way the Blues would have made the playoffs. Fortunately for the Blues, Binnington’s RFA status means the Blues have time to figure this out.
Binnington isn’t the only keeper with some bargaining to do this summer, though. Like we did with some of the top restricted free agent defensemen last week, let’s size up some of the top RFA goalies heading into the off-season:
David Rittich, Calgary Flames
The No. 1 RFA option behind Binnington, there’s no question the Flames will make signing Rittich a priority this summer. Rittich finished the year with a 27-9-1 record with a .911 save percentage in his first extended stint in the NHL. At points in the season, Rittich, 26, looked like one of the best goalies in the league, and with the progress he made throughout the year, there’s reason to believe he can be even better next season. The Flames have backup option Jon Gillies tied up for another season while Mike Smith could be on the chopping block as a 37-year-old unrestricted free agent. Rittich has an opportunity to make $2.5-3 million next season and take over as the team’s starting goalie.
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus’ goaltending situation is cloudy. Elvis Merzlikins is the only goaltender with a deal signed for next season, but he has still yet to play an NHL game. Korpisalo, 25, held his own in 27 starts for the Blue Jackets this season but has a career save percentage of .907 through 90 games. As Columbus looks toward the future, it might be worth keeping him on as a platoon netminder with Merzlikins, especially if the Blue Jackets can get Korpisalo on a deal similar to his current $900,000 contract.
Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres
At one point, the Sabres were blessed with the goaltending duo of Ryan Miller and Martin Biron. But over the past several years, goaltending has been a major concern in Buffalo. Ullmark’s $750,000 deal is set to expire this summer, and the big goaltender has yet to prove much at the NHL level. Perhaps a stronger Sabres team in front of Ullmark, 25, will help his case next season, and Buffao could elect to keep him on a similar contract. It’s a safe option for the franchise and one that could afford Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen some time to develop with the Rochester Americans.
Malcolm Subban, Vegas Golden Knights
Subban never materialized into the future star goaltender he was once pegged to become, but in 43 starts across two seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights, Subban, 25, has been useful as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup. Subban was at one point one of the best young goalies and he has stolen a few games for Vegas. What should benefit Subban the most, though, is that the Golden Knights have no top goalie prospects in the system. Thus, re-signing Subban for a few seasons could bring some stability to the Vegas crease.
Laurent Brossoit, Winnipeg Jets
Brossoit’s season was a rollercoaster. In his first 12 games with the Jets, Brossoit posted a 10-1-1 record with a .943 SP, making him one of the best backups in the NHL. But late-season struggles hurt his numbers and it was a risky proposition to start the netminder in the late stages of the season. Still, Brossoit, 26, was good enough that spending $1 million or so on him next season would be worthwhile, especially with Eric Comrie and Ken Appleby up for restricted free agency, too. All you need Brossoit to do is thrive in short stints, something he showed he can do this season.
Other notables: Adin Hill (Arizona Coyotes), Patrik Rybar (Detroit Red Wings), Cal Petersen (Los Angeles Kings), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes), Samuel Motembeault (Florida Panthers)
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