Moneypuck: Defensemen and Goaltenders



For as bad as the forward market is this year, the defensive and goaltending markets are likely even worse. There are maybe 6 defensemen in the entire UFA class that I would deem “top-4 quality” (Zidlicky, Scuderi, Lydman, Leopold, Lundin, White).

Likewise, the amount of Moneypuck-type goaltenders is limited: the majority of goaltenders who have posted a .920 EVSV% (at least 1000 shots faced) and are free agents this year are guys who are big name starters looking for big name deals.

There’s not a lot of meat on these bones, but let’s take a looksee, shall we?

The Targets

Mike Lundin


Looking at the basics, it might not make much sense for Mike Lundin to come to Calgary. Rebuild, the plethora of mid-range (3-5) defensemen, the likely overvaluation of young players, etc. However, we note that the guy has gotten two one-year deals in a row, so he might just sign the second the phone rings. Lundin has been a legit top-4 defenseman in his short career, and by my count the Flames only have 3 of those guys.

Since he broke into the league, Lundin has found himself buried in one way or another and has still found a way to push the puck forward. I also like that he’s not an immobile lug, having demonstrated he can move around the ice pretty well.

He’s had some durability issues, though, and it’s possible that may have resulted in his 11-game stint in Ottawa this season. But just last year he faced top-level comp with a negative ZS% and his relative Corsi was only -3.1. He’ll be cheap and you can bury him with Giordano or whoever against 2nd and 3rd line comp. Low-risk, mid-reward. He did just reportedly sign a deal in the KHL, though, so who knows if he’ll even be available come July 5th.

Age: 29 (on 5/10/13)

Assumed Cost: Likely a one or two year deal at no more than $1.25 million AAV.

Alexander Sulzer


Sulzer’s the exact type of guy you’d want as your 5th defenseman: never in his career has he had a negative Corsi On or Relative Corsi. He’s always played 3rd or 4th line comp and his ZS% is not outrageously high. He also brings a bit of offensive upside, to the tune of about 15 points per season. The defensive pool this summer is insanely thin, and aside from these two guys and possibly Ian White, there isn’t anyone else that really intrigues me out there.

Age: 29 (on 5/10/13)

Assumed Cost: Likely a one year deal at no more than $1 million.

Ray Emery

Ray Emery

As I’m still wholly unconvinced about the ability of Reto Berra, Karri Ramo, et al to play at the NHL level, the Flames need some kind of NHL-level goalie in the system to play with Joey MacDonald (who, in his own right, is barely an NHL-level goalie). Ray Emery is likely the best goalie on the market at this second – Mike Smith will probably want term and money beyond what the Flames will (hopefully) offer. Emery has performed well over his career – a .921 EVSV% over the course of 9 seasons and 4631 shots at even strength. The past few seasons show similar numbers: a .917 (2488 shots) and .916 (1277 shots). It’s therefore reasonable to expect that a healthy Emery will stop about 91.6%-92.1% of the shots he faces in a season.

On average, Emery faces about 700 shots per season at even strength – which is about 30-35 games worth. Emery has the potential to be an NHL-average 1A starter when healthy. He will likely be low-balled on his contract demands, given the quality of the Blackhawks this year and how goaltending performance is perceived to be affected by the team in front of said goaltender. This is a perfect target for the Flames: a goaltender who will perform positively over a short term while other goalies develop and acclimate to their various leagues.

Age: 31 (on 5/10/13)

Assumed Cost: 1 or 2 year deal, likely at less than $2.5 million AAV.

Thomas Greiss

Thomas Greiss

Many have a theory that to be successful as a franchise, a team needs to have three goaltenders who can play at the NHL level. Greiss may be the best #3 guy out there. Over 857 shots at even strength, Greiss has managed a .921 EVSV%. Certainly, that’s not a huge sample size or overly impressive save percentage – but Greiss has demonstrated an ability to backup at a good rate from year to year. He’s only 27, which could mean that the Flames could sign him to a 3 year deal and not blink an eye. He’ll also be dirt cheap: based on his previous contracts, I’d be shocked if he was paid more than a million dollars per season. He won’t be flashy, but he’ll be cheap and he’ll be able to stop pucks at the NHL level.

Greiss, together with Ramo, Berra, MacDonald and potentially Emery would ensure significant and above-replacement level of redundancy. However – I doubt the Flames sign two goaltenders this summer due to the glut of pcukstoppers under contract and the (likely) overestimation of talent contained within the Berra, Ramo and MacDonald trifecta.

Age: 27 (on 5/10/13)

Assumed Cost: 1 or 2 year deal, likely at less than $1 million AAV.


Like I said above, the pool here is shallow as all hell, but it still appears as though there’s still some value to be had. Whether the Flames want to sign more defensemen or goaltenders is another question, given that (by my count) they already have at least 7 defensemen and 3 goalies (including RFA’s) that will likely see some NHL time next season.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know who you’d like to see targeted in the comments.

      • piscera.infada

        Perhaps it makes it the perfect time to part with a Giordano – assuming you really wanted to, and (of course) someone’s in need of 2nd pairing D man.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I think at some point you need to factor in the need for stability and veteran leadership (yup, I just said both those things). Value as a trade asset is always nice, but the kids coming in need somebody who can help them out, and Giordano likely should be one of those guys (the only two “old” dudes I’d guarantee, really, are Gio and GlenX; Wideman will be here simply on account of his contract). That said, this is certainly a prime time to get full value for Giordano.

          @Justin Azevedo: I’d support bringing White back. He was sorely misused when he was in Calgary, and I think he’d be entirely okay with someone like Giordano in medium-difficulty minutes.

          • piscera.infada

            I’ll grant you veteran leadership/stability, but I assume we’ll differ on where it should come from. I happen to believe Wideman is the guy – I noticed alot of his style rub off on Brodie this past season (I know alot of people will argue this, I still believe it regardless).

            In terms of Giordano, I don’t think anyone can argue that in terms of valuable assets (that aren’t picks, prospects, or players that are part of the solution in the future) Gio and GlenX are the best we have – and we know GlenX isn’t going anywhere (pay-cut/NTC situation). Under that assumption, if the market is going to dictate that trading a top-4 defenseman is going to give you a better than average return, you need to take a serious look at that option.

          • SmellOfVictory

            I didn’t think Wideman played that bad last year. Given what Gonchar & Streit scooped in new contracts, I don’t think his contract is really that out of line. Now, if we were to trade him at a cap hit of lets say 3.5 mill & we eat the 1.75 cap space difference, well suddenly, our return we could expect from a team desperate for a top4 D should be high cough..Carolina..cough…5th…cough!

            Cant wait for this final to be over so we can see what trades may go down. At this point for next year, I would love to see Brodie/Gio/Cundari/Butler(cringe)/Wotherspoon/Breen get lots of ice time next year.

          • icedawg_42

            Depending what’s available at 5. If MacKinnon, Jones, Barkov and Drouin are all gone, not sure i’d give up a whole lot to gamble on Nichuskin. Not when Monahan/Lindholm are still available.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          I think Wideman. Given the UFA class he looks really good. Not sure if it would make teams see him as 2D but he would be the prime guy if he was UFA. Teams overpay for the prime FA (Gomez, Richards).

          Maybe he get us another 1st? If Butler went in a package that brought back a pick and prospect.

          I’d be shopping that deal.

          • piscera.infada

            You’d need to eat salary on Wideman, Gio has a better contract.

            I will also throw a statement out there that I’m sure will anger many – I believe Wideman brings more to the table than Giordano, both in terms of experience (which I will translate to ability as a mentor for young guys) and offensive skill – Gio beats him marginally in the D-zone.

            [I’m really not looking to get into the Wideman debate. So can we just agree to disagree? I know it’s not a popular belief to have.]

          • seve927

            I’m a Wideman fan. He was far better than Gio last year, but I fully expect a bounceback year from Gio. Overall, given their contracts, I’d value them about the same with a slight edge to Gio at a $1M+ discount.

          • piscera.infada

            I guess if you eat 1 mil. of the Wideman contract then you have fairly equal contracts in that regard. I’m just not sure if I would rather have Wideman playing the top pair minutes that he isn’t really capable of playing, of Giordano doing likewise.

            I guess if you are the one to make that call then it comes down to those ‘intangibles’. Perhaps one year younger can get you more? Perhaps Gio is far superior in terms of locker room leadership? I really can’t assess that.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            I don’t think you HAVE to eat salary. If on open market this year, I think he would get a similar contract. And the return…

            Wideman and Hudler came here on assumption there was no rebuild. I wonder how the rebuild sits with them, given they could have signed elsewhere.

            Gio was an undrafted guy who went to KHL. He’s been low and fought out of it. I like that example for the young guys.

            Wideman is good on PP but he doesn’t run it. I’ve seen his niche as always complementing not driving. I see him as a second or third pairing, 1 st PP Dman.

            If Wideman is defacto first pairing here I think he gets eaten alive. The problem with Calgary is they don’t have much back there so it may be neither moves.

            Maybe trade Wideman get a first or similar and sign Sulzer and White.

          • piscera.infada

            I think in terms of return (falling cap and all that) you’d want to eat salary so the trade is more palatable.

            Wideman has been on several successful teams, been in the playoffs, performed well in said playoffs, been used in multiple rolls, he’s been a tough guy, a leader, and a consummate professional his whole career.

            Giordano looked good on a Flames roster where he was behind JayBo and Regher (both of whom were unmitigated disasters over the last 3 or 4 years, compared to what we thought we were going to get). So yes, I think Wideman would be eaten alive playing the top competition game in and game out, but I sure as hell believe Gio would too.

            Look, you aren’t going to find a bigger fan of Giordano than me – love that guy. I just think he probably gets a greater return in a trade than Wideman, and I think the “leadership/mentorship” difference while stylistically different (if that’s even a reasonable thing to say), is largely negligible.

  • MC Hockey

    Just throwing out a few more names of UFA D-men, all under 30 years old who are not covered here (perhaps because author deems them not great players) but how about considering these guys?

    Kostka (played tonnes in TO to protect Dion’s mistakes) Sanguinetti (youngest UFA, good pedigree) Fistric (better if not with Edm?) Jordie Benn (half as good as brother?) Clitsome (offensive) Gilroy (offensive) Lovejoy (steady) Eminger (tough, steady-ish) Meech (all-around) Ryan Whitney (offensive, maybe better out of Edm?)

    • SmellOfVictory

      Most of those guys are terrible, although I don’t know much about Sanguinetti or Meech. Kostka, in particular, is just a disaster of a player, and probably shouldn’t be in the NHL. I’ve never liked Fistric, although some people seem to think he has value, but it’s strictly on the bottom pairing.

    • MC Hockey

      yeah, none of those guys really intrigues me as a top-4 option, which is what the flames need.

      currently, they have 4 players who are either under contract or are rfa’s who can play 5/6 minutes. they don’t need any more.

  • seve927

    When looking through corsi numbers, I noticed Bobby Sanguinetti topped their CF% with lots of OZ starts against weak competition. Still, a 25 year old UFA with good corsi numbers and above average offensive abilities is hard to ignore, is it not? He’s had two consecutive 2-way 1-year deals. Looks like he could be an excellent low-risk pickup.

    Never seen the guy play. Anyone?

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Have not seen him play in a couple of years was a good skater, good offensively, not good defensively. Would be a good guy to sign to a 2 way deal, good size, right shot.

      Rosival would be a good fit, play 2nd pair right side with Gio.

  • seve927

    Also, with LA signing Voynov and Regehr, I’m hoping Jake Muzzin could be pilfered. I think he’s worth more than they’d have room to pay. ~3M costs us a second next year for a 24 year old 2-3 D (IMO). Doughty’s best numbers were when playing with Muzzin.

  • beloch

    I vastly prefer Greiss to MacDonald as a backup option, but only as someone who wants to see the team win. If the rebuild plan includes Oiler-style strategic tanking then MacDonald is perfect. Once the Flames are clearly out of contention next season I’d expect to see a lot of MacBackup.

  • beloch

    We are wanting to get tougher based on stats alone Sanguinetti does play a more physical game, has good CORSI stats and in the age range we are looking for (25). Have not seen him play but should be a cheap contract, low risk.

    Clitsome also has positive CORSI and averaged over 18 a game for the jets last season( last 5 games over 20 min). He maybe only 5’11”, but plays a physical game. Also he was +10 on the season where the next defense was +5. He should also come fairly cheap – Sarich contract.

    I think picking up these 2 will help spread out the min that JBo used as well as create competition for the bottom of the rotation.

    Top 3 D Wideman, Gio and Brodie.

    Clitsome could help fill in min on the top 4 (or at least share the role) I believe and Sanguinetti put some pressure on our own prospects to pick up their game and challenge for the remaining spots.

    IMO they both fill needs.

    • supra steve

      sanguinetti played 4th line comp and had a zs of 62%. of course he had a good corsi.

      clitsome played 3rd line comp, had a marginally-above 0 corsi and excellent luck last season.

      I don’t see how the flames need 5/6 dmen. they either need an elite #1 (huh) or a legit #4. white and lundin are really the only guys that fit either of those criteria on the fa market.

  • supra steve

    Hey @Justin Azevedo

    Can we see a similar approach to pending RFA’s? I think that’s where the gold is this year for teams like us with extra cash. There’s going to be some pretty good players squeezed out as teams struggle to fit under the cap.

    I’m hoping that’s where managements priorities lie. Say what you will about rebuilding but we seemingly have a lot of unique opportunities in front of us to really get things started on the right foot!

    I know we have a LONG way to go but the optimism is refreshing.