With free agency winding down (at this point it is less about teams chasing players and more about players chasing teams), we can start to make sense of the feeding frenzy that has characterized the 2011 free agency period.

One thing is clear: the market for goaltenders remains depressed and heavily saturated, and no matter how good you are unless your name is Ilya Bryzgalov, you got neither the security of a long-term contract or the succour of a nice payday.

As Bryzgalov was signed in the lead-up to free agency, I am going to present two charts, both showing the age, career save percentage and contract terms of the player signed, but with one showing signings prior to July 1 and the other showing signings afterward.

Before July 1

Player Team Career GP Career SV% Cap Hit Term
Ilya Bryzgalov PHI 326 0.916 $5.67 million 9 years
Dwayne Roloson T.B 566 0.910 $3.0 million 1 year
Jason Labarbera PHX 141 0.906 $1.25 million 2 years
Henrik Karlsson CGY 17 0.908 $0.875 million 2 years

July 1 and after

Player Team Career GP Career SV% Cap Hit Term
Mike Smith PHX 162 0.906 $2.0 million 2 years
Jose Theodore FLA 580 0.909 $1.5 million 2 years
Tomas Vokoun WSH 632 0.917 $1.5 million 1 year
Mathieu Garon T.B. 275 0.904 $1.3 million 2 years
J-S Giguere COL 525 0.913 $1.25 million 2 years
Johan Hedberg N.J. 327 0.901 $1.25 million 1 year
Peter Budaj MTL 242 0.902 $1.15 million 2 years
Alex Auld OTT 223 0.905 $1.0 million 1 year
Brian Boucher CAR 314 0.901 $0.95 million 2 years
Josh Harding MIN 83 0.915 $0.75 million 1 year
Brian Elliott STL 142 0.901 $0.60 million 2 years

That’s a lot of mediocre goaltenders.

Bryzgalov is the cream of the crop here, followed closely by Tomas Vokoun, while Dwayne Roloson and Jose Theodore both have nice points.  The rest are career 1B guys or worse with a couple of exceptions (Harding’s still fairly young and has impressed when healthy/playing, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere has had a strong career but seems to be fading fast).

Only Bryzgalov got paid, though.  Every other contract was $3.0 million or less, and for two years or less.  Philadelphia paid far more than $5.67 million for Bryzgalov, however – the other cost of that acquisition was the departure of stars Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.  Undeniably there were other factors at play there, but the Flyers needed to clear serious money for Bryzgalov, so somebody was heading out of town no matter what.

I think it’s something we will see less and less of, going forward.  When a team can add perfectly serviceable goalies like Theodore and Vokoun and Roloson at cut rates and over short-term, low-risk deals, they aren’t going to be in a hurry to hand out dollars and term to goalies that offer only a moderately better performance.  Eventually, those sorts of deals will be gone altogether.  And Ilya probably ought to send his agent a nice fruit basket, or something.