Secure in the knowledge that they obtained the best possible draftees, the three locals are looking ahead to the ever-heart-throbbing Free Agent Frenzy beginning on July 1.
In a rather unique situation, our trio of teams are confronting dilemmas in the crease. All are solvable but the respective general managers could be on a collision course for the same netminding solution.
Each of the clubs requires a second goaltender. Period.
Sure Henrik Lundqvist‘s spirit still moves him to continue as top banana between the pipes but — at age 36 — his endurance now must legitimately be studied.
Hank’s 26 wins this past season flashes an amber light spelling caution. Not that the Blueshirts are unprepared for this situation.
The answer could simply be provided by young Alexandar Georgiev, who replaced Lundqvist, playing superbly and confidently in the spring homestretch.
Pinch-goaltending for The King as calmly and competently, as he did, Georgiev could be the Prince-In-Waiting.
Then again, the Rangers high command could very well deem it more prudent to wait a bit for Alexandar-The-Hoped-For-Great to mature one more season in Hartford.
If that’s the case — and a good case could be made for that — then the Blueshirts may already be scanning the free agent goalie lists for a veteran as they have in the recent past. Exhibit A was Cam Talbot.
However, The Maven would gamble on Georgiev, especially since this is a rebuilding year and The Kid would fit into the youthful mold.
Trotz won the Cup with Braden Holtby, for sure, but he also was secure in the knowledge that Philipp Grubauer had the goods, if necessary. With Grubauer no longer available to the Isles, Larrupin’ Lou likely will seek a veteran to pair with Greiss.
Available puck-stoppers include Carter Hutton, 32, ex of St. Louis; Jonathan Bernier, 29, ex of Colorado, Anton Khudobin, 32, ex of Boston and Michael Hutchinson, 28, who once had the Winnipeg starting gig.
Were I in Lou’s shoes — sorry, they don’t fit — I’d take Khudobin based on his excellent record in Beantown.
Rest assured that the by-now-a-veteran Kinkaid is as motivated as any netminder this side of Jonathan Quick to prove his right to be Number One.
Double K established that fact with a sterling homestretch effort that catapulted the Devs into a playoff berth. Plus, Kinkaid was not too bad in the postseason action either.
If The Maven’s name was Shero, he’d take Hutchison. Michael’s age and experience would fit into New Jersey’s present and perhaps future as well — depending on how Schneider emerges from his recuperation.