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NHL Goaltending Market over-corrects Itself

It's amazing how quickly conventional wisdom can change.  Not much more than one year ago, it was basically an article of faith that a playoff team needed a top goaltender (probably even a clutch one).  And such goaltenders came with high price tags.

Then the Colorado Avalanche found Craig Anderson hiding in plain sight.  Chicago won the Stanley Cup with a question mark in goal.  Philadelphia went all the way to the finals with two goaltenders who've established their mediocrity over rather lengthy careers.  And on July 1, eight free agent goaltenders signed for what strike me as tiny contracts - here are their new salaries and three year average even-strength save percentages:


Salary Saves Shots Save%
Niittymaki $2.000 695 755 921.0
Biron $0.875 1065 1157 920.5
Ellis $1.500 695 755 919.7
Auld $1.000 606 660 918.1
Mason $1.850 1069 1165 917.6
Hedberg $1.500 788 860 916.3
Budaj $1.250 670 732 915.3
Leighton $1.550 353 389 908.3
Average $1.441 743 809 917.8


It is safe to assume that these goaltenders will face approximately the same number of shots in the aggregate in 2010-11, so the goaltending market on the first day of free agency established itself at 1 win = $782k.  (This assumes a replacement level save percentage of 908.9.)  Needless to say, this is substantially less than the typical price for goaltender wins on the UFA market over the last few years, and it makes Michael Leighton's contract look pretty silly.

So what does this tell us about the two remaining veteran goaltenders on the market?  Assuming they face as many shots as they did on average over the last three years:


Salary Saves Shots Save%
Turco $1.85 1217 1328 916.7
Nabokov $3.09 1345 1458 922.5


While that's still a big drop in compensation for both of those guys, it seems like they'll each be hard-pressed to get that kind of cash.  Nabokov is barely better than league-average - is anyone looking to spend $3M, likely over multiple years, for that?  And now that Turco has the same established talent as Johan Hedberg, will anyone want him as their starter?  All signs point to no.