The purpose of this write-up is to start a discussion about goaltending and to see what you guys, the Blueshirt Banter community, think the value of a back-up goaltender is, when you think the search should start for Hank's successor, and to start talking a little bit more about Hank and his need for a new contract.
At the end of the upcoming season Martin Biron's contract expires and his $1.3 million cap hit comes off the books. Biron, who is turning 36 tomorrow, could easily retire or become a salary cap casualty unless he is willing to take a pay cut, but at his advanced age the Rangers might be better off looking for younger and/or cheaper options.
Henrik Lundqvist's contract also happens to be expiring after the upcoming season. In my opinion it can never be too early to start the search for the heir to King Henrik Lundqvist's throne but it is not something that needs to be addressed presently. Lundqvist, who will be turning 32 next season, still has a lot of quality hockey left in the tank and he will be getting paid very well for it when he gets his new contract. But just because Hank potentially has a lot of games left in him doesn't mean that the search shouldn't start. It goes without saying that the Rangers don't truly have goalie prospects that are anything more than intriguing to serve as Biron's potential replacement, let alone Lundqivst's. The goalie that (potentially) replaces Biron almost certainly won't be being groomed to be Hank's replacement. It is far too early for that to happen given Hank's age and where his game is right now but after watching the Devils acquire Cory Schnedier on Draft Day to be the man that follows succeeds Brodeur I got to thinking about when the search should start for Hank's successor. Can it ever really start too soon?
We've also been hearing that Hank's workload will get more reasonable for several years now and it has yet to truly happen. Last season Hank started forty-three of the Rangers forty-eight games which put him in a three way tie for the league lead last season. As Hank gets older we can expect to see his workload diminish at least a little bit but, in my opinion, we have to start asking ourselves just how much do we spend on the man that relieves him every fifth game or so and where do we find the goalie that will replace Biron after next season.
Drafting and developing goalies seems to be one of the most poorly understood parts of the professional game. Everyone knows that you almost never draft a goalie in the first round but everyone also knows that a superstar goalie can make a mediocre team a playoff team and can make a good team a Stanley Cup Champion. We Rangers fans understand that very well, having been blessed with the good fortune of the world's best goaltender for eight seasons. It seems to me that finding that superstar goalie is an imperfect science and is something that teams should be constantly investing their time in, no matter who they currently have in their net right now.
One of my questions to you guys is would you rather see a kid on a dirt cheap entry-level deal backing Hank up in 2014-2015 or do you think that spending ~$1.5 million in cap space (or more) on a veteran back-up goalie is a sound investment considering how devastated a team could potentially be if their starting goalie went down with a serious injury or if his game fell apart on him. Obviously it is a bit premature to start this discussion (exactly one year premature) but I just wanted to see just how valuable you guys think back-up goaltenders are, how much cap space they should take up, and when the search for King Henrik's heir should begin. Also, it's the middle of August and I'm tired of talking and reading about Derek Stepan. Have at it in the comments guys and girls... also, happy birthday Marty Biron.
Let's go Rangers.