The New York Rangers had a revolving door of backup goaltenders this season, making it the first time since before the lockout that the team used five goalies in a single season.
Coming into this season, Steve Valiquette was the set backup goalie, but after his play faltered, the Rangers kept promoting and demoting a combination of their two top goaltending prospects Chad Johnson and Matt Zaba.
Johnson was solid in his appearances, going 1-2-1 with a GAA of 2.35. When he was down to log more starts, it was Zaba who was up, and he ended up only appearing in one game, which he gave up two goals in a little more than thirty minutes of playing time.
When John Tortorella had enough of this, the Rangers went out and claimed Alex Auld off of waivers, which I thought was an excellent move, considering Auld had always played well against the Rangers and could be counted on to give Lundqvist a rest down the stretch in very important games. In the season in which the head coach promised he would not play Lundqvist as much as on years past, he ended up having him play more than ever before, in seventy-three games.
Auld would end up only playing in three, one of which was a start. He looked solid, but it really was not enough games to judge him by.
With this season over, I would highly suggest that the Rangers bring back Auld on a one year deal, so that Johnson can get a full season in Hartford as the number one goalie. But now it seems that the two parties are not going to reach an agreement. Auld made a million dollars flat last season, and an amount of the same would be very reasonable if he was to stay on as the backup goalie.
The writers are suggesting that the Rangers will have a veteran backup next season that will not be Alex Auld. To me, it is obvious that the Rangers will go after Martin Biron, the former successful starting goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers, before settling for a backup job with the Islanders this season because no other team was in need of a goalie.
Biron made $1.4 million this season, and if the Rangers could pay him identically, it would be a good move for them. Biron is a player who can play twenty games, or more if needed, and will push Lundqvist to play harder. Biron has appeared in seventy games once, and more than fifty games five times. He owns a 208-176-25-24 record.
I would highly anticipate that the Rangers will go after him, and if they cannot get him, then they will look to re-sign Alex Auld. However, if they can get neither and still do not want Johnson wasting away on the bench, other veteran names on the free agent market include Johan Hedberg, who I would not mind seeing as a Ranger, and would actually want him more than Biron, as well as Patrick Lalime, who I would stay very, very far away from.
We will know very soon if Auld plans on returning to the Rangers, and what the situation will be heading into next season.