Win the Stanley Cup, then worry about the future. With the NHL playoffs at the front of everyone's mind, the two most prominent pending unrestricted free-agent goaltenders have bigger fish to fry before chiseling out their next contracts. But Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller are going to have to make some hefty decisions soon enough, and the fantasy ramifications of how it all shapes up will be significant.
The intention on behalf of the St. Louis Blues regarding their shiny, new-to-them goalie is relatively straightforward: The club wants to re-sign Miller before July 1. But even though he’s said to be open to signing a fresh deal in St. Louis, the 33-year-old may have another preferred destination in mind. Miller’s wife, Noureen DeWulf, is a Hollywood actress; a gig with the Anaheim Ducks -- rising Cup contenders along with the Blues -- would be most convenient, from a geographical perspective.
That brings us to the Ducks’ current No. 1 goalie. Fiercely clutched by general manager Bob Murray ahead of the trade deadline, Hiller has been eight shades of awful leading up to the postseason. Instead, the Anaheim club has relied upon Frederik Andersen, who has been good, and fresh-from-the-minors rookie John Gibson, who has been nearly perfect. If this trend endures through the playoffs, the Ducks may opt to gamble with their two youngsters next season. That means a cheaper option might be on the club’s offseason wish list for the short term, and not a player of Hiller or Miller's ilk. After all, many scouts have high expectations for Gibson, and the reins could be passed to him within the next two seasons.
If that’s how the chips fall, Miller is a good bet to re-sign with the Blues, where he would remain a superb -- if not the very best -- fantasy goalie for 2014-15. As for Hiller, it'll depend on where he ends up. While some clubs are looking for reliable, experienced goaltending, like the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames, others would be open to some internal shuffling if it means snagging a proven No. 1 like Hiller. So who knows where he lands? From a fantasy perspective, a gig with the Sabres is not equivalent to a starting job with other superior clubs.
As for Gibson and Andersen -- but especially Gibson -- we suggest you hold them in somewhat high regard ahead of next season, especially those in dynasty leagues. Two NHL games are still only two games. But, as mentioned above, the former Kitchener Ranger is expected to be the genuine article.
Now here’s a look at a few other fantasy-relevant UFA goalies from around the league:
With respect to the latest bout of drama unfolding between Halak and Capitals coach Adam Oates, we suggest the goalie signs elsewhere this summer.