Garth Snow’s rather surprising signing of Martin Biron drew a wide variety of opinion yesterday, with the consensus opinion being that Rick DiPietro is still a long way from being ready to play again.
Islanders fans have for the most part agreed with that conclusion, except for the small segment who hilariously (gullibly?) still believe DiPietro will be ready for training camp.
It seems pretty clear to me that Garth Snow entered July knowing that he needed a number one goaltender for at least the first half of the season, and he moved quickly but without wasting money, signing Dwayne Roloson to a two-year, five million dollar contract.
It seems safe to say that he was open to various options at the backup position, but with Martin Biron desperately looking for an NHL job, signing him was an obvious move. Not only does Biron provide the Islanders with likely the best backup goaltender in the league (or Roloson, if things go that way)) but if DiPietro recovers in time to play midseason, Snow will have the option of trading him to whichever team watches their starter get hurt or implode performance-wise.
Snow, in short, built a completely new tandem for a cap hit of 3.9 million dollars. If either goaltender falters, he has an experienced and successful number one to replace him with.
This is a different approach than the Oilers have chosen to take. Despite the total lack of value of even a decent backup goaltender (Alex Auld, who started and did well in Ottawa last season, was traded earlier this summer for a 6th round pick – despite a reasonable salary), they’ve elected to hold on to untested 25-year old Jeff Deslauriers. They also elected to grab the man who was, in their opinion, the best goaltender on the market in Nikolai Khabibulin – signing the 36-year old to a four year, 15 million dollar contract.
My question is a simple one – which approach is better? Which tandem would you, as an NHL G.M., rather run with next season:
- Biron/Roloson: 3.9 million dollars
- Khabibulin/Deslauriers: 4.375 million dollars
I think that the Islanders have more effective tandem; if either goaltender slumps they have a legitimate starter to step into his role. Edmonton, in contrast, will be relying on a goaltender that has yet to prove he can be a reliable NHL backup if Khabibulin suffers more injuries like the ones that have nagged him since the lockout. I think (and I realize this isn’t something everyone will agree with me on) the Islanders got the best goaltender on the market in Biron – a younger player than Khabibulin who has posted better numbers in three of four seasons post-lockout.