That is the third weblog in a sequence that examines this summer time’s UFA crop of goalies. As a result of there are such a lot of fascinating free-agent tenders to take a look at, I’ve grouped a number of by some defining attribute for every weblog after which examined them in additional element.
For extra context and to learn the primary entry on this sequence, click on here.
At this time, we have a look at three UFAs-to-be who spent the 2020-21 season with NHL cellar-dwellers. Consequently, the trio might not have the dazzling numbers of another members of the cohort, however every has not less than some upside. So don’t be too alarmed in case your crew grabs considered one of these guys within the low season, even when your preliminary response is unfavorable.
Jonathan Bernier – Detroit Purple Wings
You might scoff, however Jonathan Bernier is a extra fascinating case than many give him credit score for. Although his identify nonetheless carries some stink from the much-maligned finish to his tenure with Toronto, Bernier’s three-year stint with Detroit was quietly commendable.
His time in Toronto began auspiciously sufficient. The six-foot, 185-pound goalie arrived in Toronto because the obvious goalie of the long run after being acquired from Los Angeles on June 23, 2013. Bernier, 24 on the time, was a hyped prospect however was caught behind Jonathan Fast in L.A.
In his first two years in Blue and White, Bernier had a 47-47-14 report, with a .917 save share and a pair of.79 goals-against common in 113 contests because the 1A to James Reimer’s 1B. Strong numbers behind porous Leafs groups.
However then 2015-16 occurred. Due to the promote it got here in, the disastrous marketing campaign nonetheless tinges his legacy to this present day. Bernier faltered badly on an obviously-tanking Leafs crew, even incomes a ‘get proper’ stint with the AHL Marlies in December of 2015. Bernier began simply 36 NHL video games – by far his fewest as a Leaf – and his penchant for permitting dangerous objectives misplaced administration’s confidence.
The Leafs introduced Frederik Andersen in that low season and subsequently shipped Bernier to Anaheim. Bernier then spent one season as a backup in Anaheim and one other as a backup in Colorado, enjoying properly and even incomes playoff begins in each years.
On July 1, 2018, Bernier signed a three-year, $9-million take care of Detroit. Again on a crew within the doldrums, Bernier’s uncooked numbers regressed to properly beneath league common. However taking a more in-depth look, issues aren’t so dangerous.
Prior to now two seasons, Bernier has a report of 24-33-4, with a .909 SP and a pair of.96 GAA in 70 video games. In that very same interval, all different Detroit goalies mixed have a 12-43-11 report, with a .891 SP and three.47 GAA. That’s a 70-point tempo for Detroit in Bernier’s selections and a 43-point tempo with anybody else in internet.
The Laval, Que., native has additionally been positively shelled over these two seasons. Among the many 48 goalies to play not less than 42 video games in that point, no one confronted the next fee of high-danger photographs. Bernier was additionally top-four in photographs towards, anticipated objectives towards and high-danger saves (all per-60, per naturalstattrick.com).
Bernier turns 33 earlier than subsequent season. He’s proven a capability to carry up properly on some dreadful defensive groups. A fishbowl market like he had in Toronto might not be the perfect for him, however he might thrive as a veteran backup elsewhere. Although not perfect, he could possibly be squeezed into starter’s duties in a pinch.
Linus Ullmark – Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t had a complete lot break their means over the previous decade-plus. The crew hasn’t been to the playoffs for the reason that 2010-11 season and hasn’t received a playoff sequence since 2006-07. They’ve drafted within the high 10 in every of the previous eight years, despatched Ryan O’Reilly out of city for virtually nothing – solely to have him win the Conn Smythe a yr later – and appear to have alienated franchise participant Jack Eichel.
So, Linus Ullmark’s emergence as a reliable NHL goalie has been a much-needed change of tempo. The Sabres selected Ullmark within the sixth spherical of the 2012 draft from Modo in Sweden. He stayed abroad for the following three seasons. That included a glowing 2013-14 marketing campaign that noticed him earn Honken Trophy honors because the SHL’s high goalie and lead the highest Swedish league with a .931 SP in 35 video games.
Upon his arrival in North America, the massive Swede was instantly thrown into the fireplace, beginning 20 video games on a 2015-16 Buffalo crew a yr faraway from their McDavid-tank try. At simply 22, Ullmark responded properly – to the tune of a .913 SP and a pair of.60 GAA – however was finally despatched to the AHL mid-season. He rejoined the Sabres for one begin on the finish of the yr.
However over the next two seasons, Ullmark noticed simply six extra NHL video games with the Sabres, as an alternative spending most of his time with AHL Rochester. His 2016-17 was feeble on a bottom-dwelling Rochester crew, however he took an enormous certain ahead in 2017-18, serving to the Individuals to the playoffs and ending tied for sixth within the AHL in SP (.922).
That was all of the seasoning Ullmark wanted. He is spent the previous three seasons with Buffalo, although accidents have restricted him to only 91 video games. He posted a 41-34-11 report, with a .911 SP and a pair of.85 GAA throughout the three seasons. The 2020-21 season – regardless of the remaining franchise seemingly imploding round him – was the perfect, as Ullmark posted a career-best SP (.917) and a 2.63 GAA proper in step with his 2015-16 high-water mark.
Ullmark enters free company shortly earlier than his twenty eighth birthday, and with simply 112 NHL begins on his resume. Buffalo could also be clever to retain Ullmark’s companies as a bridge to top-prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. His play is encouraging, particularly given the context it got here on this season, and, as a youthful UFA, he might have new heights nonetheless to unlock. However accidents are a serious concern – Ullmark missed 17 video games in 2019-20 and an additional 29 this season.
David Rittich – Toronto Maple Leafs
Put the pitchforks away, Leafs followers, David Rittich is included on this grouping for spending the steadiness of the season in Calgary.
The person they name ‘Huge Save Dave’ simply hasn’t been fairly proper for the reason that notorious stick-flip incident with Leon Draisaitl.
In 58 begins between 2017-18 and 2018-19, Rittich was a reliable, if unspectacular, backup for the Flames. He was additionally trending in the correct path, taking a big step ahead in each workload and leads to his second full season in Cowtown in ’18-19.
And 2019-20 gave the impression to be following the identical path, with Rittich commanding the starter’s function for the primary time in his profession, forward of Cam Talbot. As much as and together with the Flames’ 4-3 win over Edmonton on Jan. 29, 2020, Rittich had posted a 20-12-5 report, with a .913 SP and a pair of.77 GAA in 37 contests. That sport completed with Rittich pokechecking Draisaitl to finish the shootout, securing a Flames win. Rittich’s emphatic celebration drew the ire of his provincial rivals and elicited a lot media consideration.
It might be a coincidence, however the decline in his play since then has been stark. He was shelled for six objectives on 28 photographs the following day trip – in a fiery Battle of Alberta – and rocked a .885 SP in 11 video games from then on. Talbot wrested management of the crease from Rittich and would finally begin every of Calgary’s 10 playoff video games.
Rittich had a dreadful 2020-21 season, simply his worst within the NHL. Calgary fell aside on the seams, however Rittich’s workload was comparatively common when it comes to harmful shot metrics, and he posted career-worsts in SP (.901) and goals-saved above anticipated (minus-0.193).
Studying an excessive amount of into it? Properly, certain. However the Czech goalie does appear to be in his personal head now. He outwardly let his frustrations get to him, expressing anger at being pulled a number of instances, together with headbutting a door after a poor outing in Ottawa.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound goalie will likely be 29 subsequent season. If he can reclaim his pre-stick-flip type, he could possibly be a cut price for his subsequent crew. However, at this level, counting on him for something greater than a secondary function can be unwise.