Commentary

Free agency: Top goaltenders

Updated: July 1, 2009, 11:15 AM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

With the start of free agency next week (July 1), we're taking a look at the top free agents on the market. We continue with the goaltenders (click here for the forwards and defensemen):

Nikolai Khabibulin

The cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to goaltenders on the open market this summer. It's even worse than last summer, when only a handful of legitimate starters were available; this reality is what makes Khabibulin such an intriguing property. Unwanted by the Blackhawks at the start of last season thanks to his whopper $6.75 million contract, he ended up being "the man" as the Blackhawks exceeded expectations and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1996.

Unless GM Dale Tallon can find a taker for Cristobal Huet (he's under contract for the next three years), Tallon will be forced to watch Khabibulin walk. The Kings are in need of a veteran goaltender to hold the fort in what is an important season for them. The Avs, in disarray, are without a bona-fide No. 1 netminder. Hard to imagine anyone paying Khabibulin what he was making before, but he's still the top netminder in a lean market.

Martin Biron

No respect in Philadelphia for a guy who took the Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals in 2008 and back to the playoffs this spring. The Flyers have signed erstwhile Ray Emery and claim they'd like Biron back, but he'll be looking to be a No. 1 guy again somewhere. Biron made $3.5 million in 2008-09, which is a pretty reasonable amount. The Kings or Avs are possibilities, although he may find himself looking at a platoon situation given the scarcity of open No. 1 jobs. What about backing up the mercurial Carey Price in Montreal?

Manny Fernandez

It was a renaissance season for the two-time William Jennings Trophy winner after it looked like knee and back problems were going to scuttle his career. He and Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas led the NHL in team goals-against average and Fernandez was a solid 16-8-3 with a .910 goals-against average for the Eastern Conference regular-season champs. He'll turn 35 before training camp and isn't likely to get a starter's job, but Fernandez has shown he can work with either a veteran or a young netminder. Maybe Montreal or Columbus would be a nice spot for him.

Dwayne Roloson

When the Edmonton Oilers went on their annual late-season playoff charge, it was with 38-year-old Roloson between the pipes as he became the oldest goaltender in NHL history to play 60 games or more. The Oilers fell just short despite Roloson's inspired play. The big question is whether Roloson fits into the Oilers' plans moving forward with Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers looking for a chance to carry the ball. Roloson made $3 million a year. Will the Oilers pay that or more? Will someone else? For a team looking to upgrade, Roloson might be an attractive, cheaper alternative to Khabibulin.

Craig Anderson

One of the reasons the goal-starved Florida Panthers stayed in the playoff hunt as long as they did was the surprising play of backup Anderson. Rookie coach Peter DeBoer wasn't afraid to use Anderson when high-priced starter Tomas Vokoun faltered, and Anderson responded with a 15-7-5 record and .924 save percentage. The Panthers are looking to keep him in the fold, but Anderson, 28, could be a sneaky pickup for a team looking to add quality netminding for relatively small dollars (he made just $575,000 last season).

Scott Clemmensen

Another interesting option for teams, Clemmensen did yeoman's work for the New Jersey Devils when Martin Brodeur went down with an elbow injury. In his first prolonged exposure as a starter, Clemmensen went 25-13-1 to keep the Devils on track for an Atlantic Division crown before being sent to the minors when Brodeur returned.

Other free-agent goaltenders

Other names of note come July 1: Martin Gerber, Manny Legace, Brian Boucher, Jason LaBarbera, Curtis Sanford, Curtis Joseph and Brent Johnson.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.