TORONTO - JANUARY 14: Martin Biron #43 and Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers celebrate Martin Biron shutout against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre January 14, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers have a few free agents who might draw some outside attention this offseason. One of those players will be Martin Biron, who has been the Rangers' backup goaltender for the past two seasons. There are already rumors surfacing that the Philadelphia Flyers are very interested in bringing Biron back on board, and you can connect the dots on your own that teams like Columbus and Edmonton might also be interested in his services.
Simply put, Biron needs to be one of Glen Sather's top priorities this offseason.
Yes, that's before the Rangers look into scoring help, before they see if they can acquire Justin Schultz and before they see what the trade market has to offer them. Biron was one of the most important members of the Rangers this past season, there's no debate about it.
Join me after the jump for more.
In 20 starts (21 games), Biron posted a 12-6-2 record, 2.46 GAA and a .904 SV%. The biggest number there? The starts. Biron started 20 games this past season, allowing Henrik Lundqvist to get rest and be fresh for the entire season, and the playoffs.
The result? Only Lundqvist's best year ever. He earned 39 wins, had a 1.97 GAA to go along with a .930 SV% while also notching eight shutouts. How about the playoffs? It only got better. While Lundqvist did go 10-10, he recorded an even lower 1.82 GAA and a higher .931 SV%. Lundqvist was also nominated for the Vezina trophy as well.
I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb when I say that one of the main reason's for Lundqvist's success this season was from John Tortorella's ability to get him rest throughout the year. Lundqvist even admitted mid-way through the season that he felt relaxed and refreshed. It also helped him prepare for a deep playoff run, which saw the Rangers play 20 games.
Back to Biron. It's not about his numbers, so much as his ability to keep Lundqvist fresh and give Tortorella a goaltender he can put on the ice and expect him to win a hockey game. That's a big difference from what the Rangers have had in the past.
The effects of having a quality backup goaltender were remarkable, and it's certianly a strategy the team would like to employ next year. That would obviously require the Rangers to hold onto Biron. But on a free agent market in which backup goaltenders will be sparse, it might be easier said than done.
That's why it needs to be a priority.