A Trio Of Middling Goaltenders

The fastest signings this Friday seem to be backup goaltenders.  This makes a lot of sense, given that a lot of teams need goaltenders, and given the lack of opportunities the last few years all the goalies want to land a home before the music stops and someone’s left without a chair.

In order of dollars spent: Mike Smith finds himself in Phoenix for the next two years (at $2.0 million per season), Jose Theodore has signed in Florida for two years (at $1.5 million per season) and Mathieu Garon gets a second chance to fight Dwayne Roloson for the starting role in Tampa Bay – he has also signed for two years, at $1.3 million per season.

None of these guys are undisputed starters.  All are going to teams with one other goaltender of at least comparable calibre, and all of them are going to be in the mix for a starting/backup role in a tandem situation.  Mike Smith was once highly regarded and has enjoyed some success, but found himself on waivers last season after struggling for Tampa Bay.  Jose Theodore once won a Hart Trophy, but has had to slowly rehabilitate his reputation since crashing in Colorado.  Mathieu Garon beat out Roloson for the starting role way back in 2007-08 but has been a 1B goalie in the years since.

Jose Theodore

Season Games Overall SV% Even Strength SV%
2010-11 32 0.916 0.915
2009-10 47 0.911 0.924
2008-09 57 0.900 0.913
2007-08 53 0.910 0.917

The even-strength numbers are an issue with Theodore – they aren’t awful, but they are certainly sub-average.  Given that even-strength numbers are better predictors of future performance than overall numbers (which show Theodore as capable of being a league-average starter), this is a little disappointing.

Still, Florida’s getting a competent goaltender for not a lot of money, so I think it’s a pretty good signing and not one that’s likely to bite them.  In fact, I’d argue that this was the best signing of the three.

Mike Smith

Season Games Overall SV% Even Strength SV%
2010-11 22 0.899 0.900
2009-10 42 0.900 0.906
2008-09 41 0.916 0.931
2007-08 34 0.901 0.901

I was more than a little surprised to hear that Phoenix had inked Smith, particularly given the money involved.  the Coyotes have been able to find quality players in the summer, generally for not a lot of money, and this represents a sad departure for general manager Don Maloney.

In the summer of 2009, I was one of the biggest backers of Smith around, but he hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion in 2008-09.  Coming off a superb season, his play saw significant decline, and at this point the smart money says he’s a backup calibre goaltender.  If he regains 2008-09 form, then that would be something else entirely, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

It looks like Jason Labarbera can breathe a little easier.

Mathieu Garon

Season Games Overall SV% Even Strength SV%
2010-11 36 0.901 0.913
2009-10 35 0.903 0.908
2008-09 19 0.894 0.918
2007-08 47 0.913 0.916

I like Mathieu Garon; he’s a competent backup who can step up and play a lot of minutes if he has to.  I think he’s comparable to Theodore, although a hair worse, and the money was more than reasonable.  The only thing I don’t like about this signing is Roloson’s age – if he struggles, the Lightning could find themselves in the same situation they did last year.

Otherwise, I think Steve Yzerman deserves credit for getting a decent guy under contract on the cheap.