David Poile won’t be looking for a lot with the start of the National Hockey League’s free agency period on Thursday. That does mean he won’t have a lot to consider.
The Nashville Predators’ general manager indicated recently that his preference is to find an experienced netminder to back up or to share time with Pekka Rinne, the team’s No. 1 for much of the past two seasons.
The franchise knew for some time that it would not re-sign Dan Ellis, who was traded Tuesday to the Montreal Canadiens.
Two former draft picks – Anders Lindback and Atte Engren – have been signed since the end of the season, which has increased to six the numbers of goalies currently under contract. Of those, Rinne is the only one who has played in an NHL game.
“We’ve got some really good prospects coming, along with our top goalie, Pekka Rinne,” Poile said. “We need a second goalie. That’s something I have to do either by a trade or free agency.”
It’s likely that free agency presents the best opportunity.
There is no shortage of seasoned veterans available to the highest bidder. With so many of them out there, though, it’s not likely the bidding will be that high, which would fit in nicely with Nashville’s approach to free agency. At the very least, the Predators ought to be able to wait until the market settles into a range that fits their budget.
“We’re not looking to sign any high-end (free agent) and we’re also not looking to do a long-term deal with a player,” Poile said.
A look at some of the goalies scheduled for free agency, with their most recent team, age and 2009-10 salary:
• Marty Turco, Dallas, 34, $5.4 million
• Vesa Toskala, Calgary, 33, $4 million
• Chris Mason, St. Louis, , $3 million
• Ray Emery, Philadelphia, 34, $1.5 million
• Martin Biron, N.Y. Islanders, 32, $1.4 million
• Johan Hedberg, Atlanta, 37, $1.175 million
• Alex Auld, N.Y. Rangers, 29, $1 million
• Anterro Niittymaki, 30, Tampa Bay, , $600,000
• John Grahame, Colorado, 34, $500,000
• Andrew Raycroft, Vancouver, 30, $500,000