The 4 Best Free Agent Goaltenders and Their Best Landing Spot

Free Agent Goaltender

The 2021-22 National Hockey League (NHL) season has finally come to an end with the Colorado Avalanche winning its first Stanley Cup since 2001 and third since relocating to Denver. Now we get to the fun stuff as teams begin to adjust their rosters in preparation for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

There have already been a few moves of note, including the Tampa Bay Lightning shedding salary by sending defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the Nashville Predators and the Los Angeles Kings acquiring and signing RFA Kevin Fiala to a seven-year contract.

The 2022 NHL Draft takes place on Thursday from the Bell Center in Montreal. Expect a few major trades during the draft, following which the free agency window opens.

This year’s crop of free agent goaltenders isn’t all that inspiring, so teams looking for upgrades may have to go the trade route. However, there are some UFA goaltenders who can help teams in 2022-23.

Darcy Kuemper – Toronto Maple Leafs

Darcy Keumper, coming off a Stanley Cup victory with the Avalanche, has likely priced himself out of Colorado’s plans. The 32 year old had a great regular season with a 2.54 goals-against average (GAA) and .921 save percentage. He was slightly better than average in the playoffs, but didn’t need to be great.

Colorado can return much of the same forward and defense group next season and be just as good with a replacement-level goaltender. Kuemper, who made $4.5 million last season, should get about $5 or $6 this offseason, depending on the market.

The Maple Leafs would love to bring back Jack Campbell at the right price, but that’s becoming more and more unlikely. Kuemper will earn a similar salary, but he’s now a proven winner, something the Leafs will prioritize.

Marc-Andre Fleury – Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens are absolutely going to make a splash at the NHL Draft and into free agency. The team has the first overall pick and is hosting the draft, so that’s enough on its own to excite its fans. However, new GM Kent Hughes will look to make his mark on this team with a major move this weekend.

Montreal could trade for a goaltender, but what feels more likely is a veteran insurance policy like Marc-Andre Fleury. Jake Allen is still signed for one more year, but who knows what happens with Carey Price. Fleury himself has said he would be open to signing with Montreal.

Jack Campbell – Edmonton Oilers

Campbell is unlikely to return to Toronto. As much as both sides probably want to make it work, the money just isn’t there. Edmonton doesn’t have much cap flexibility either, but will need to do some maneuvering to upgrade between the pipes as Mike Smith isn’t a reliable option next season.

Campbell would be a perfect fit in Edmonton and could even play in tandem with Smith, who has one more year left on his contract, or another cheaper alternative.

Ville Husso – Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has proven it doesn’t need an all-star goaltender, but it will need at least a solid starter. Ville Husso, 27, could be the perfect option for the Avalanche.

In his second season with the St. Louis Blues, Husso posted a solid 2.56 GAA and .919 save percentage in the regular season, similar to the numbers Kuemper posted. He’ll likely come in a bit cheaper than Kuemper too.

 


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