Who’s the Backup

The rumour mill began immediately when Luongo was brought to town and Cloutier was promptly shipped out.  With Auld being included in the Luongo deal, that left a significant void of talent below the starting goalie.  As stated by the new coach, the only thing that is set on the team is the starting goaltender.

Two names appeared as potential backups in Vancouver this year, Brian Boucher and Steve Shields.  Now that training camp is here, it’s clear neither are in the Canucks plans. 

Boucher isn’t here because he was looking for a one way deal.  That didn’t fit in with Nonis plans of having some competition for Wade Flaherty.  There isn’t competition if Boucher is guaranteed to play behind Luongo.  The Steve Shields option never saw the day of light.  It was simply Shields stating publicly that he’d like to backup Roberto Luongo again.  But Nonis is smarter that putting a guy in as the backup with a bad back and has only played 9 games in the past two years.  Only 5 were in the NHL and he finished with only one win.  That’s the reason he didn’t get an invite to camp on a try-out basis.

Especially when you consider the options.  The waiver wire is going to be busy this year with a plethora of quality goaltenders that need to pass through it.

These teams are all carrying at least 3 goaltenders that have proven to be capable backups.

Chicago | Dallas | Los Angeles | Florida | Tampa Bay | Toronto

Chicago:  Nikolai Khabibulin (starter), Patrick Lalime (injured), Brian Boucher, Sebastian Caron.  At least one of Boucher or Caron will become available before the season starts.

Dallas: Marty Turco (starter), Dan Ellis, Mike Smith.  Ellis & Smith are young, and despite limited NHL experience have proved themselves capable in the AHL well enough to earn an NHL roster spot as a backup goaltender.

Los Angeles: Dan Cloutier (starter, Crawford loves his competitiveness), Jason LaBarbera, and Mathieu Garon.  Garon failed to solidify himself a position as a true NHL starter last season, while LaBarbera went out and proved that he could be successful at this level.  It would ironic if the Canucks ended up with one of these guys after trading Clouts to LA.

Florida: Alex Auld \ Ed Belfour (fighting for starting position), Craig Anderson.  Anderson has never been able to play himself into a starting role, and is definitely the odd man out until Belfour injures his back.  It will be interesting to see how Florida deals with this one come time to set the roster.  They can’t afford to lose their depth with Belfours history of back problems, but how long can they afford to hold three goalies at the NHL level?

Tampa Bay: Marc Denis (starter), Sean Burke, Johan Holmqvist.  Burke is trying to yet again prove he belongs in the NHL after a disappointing season.  Seems to me he’s been doing that his entire career.

Toronto: Andrew Raycroft (starter), Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist.  While Tellqvist faltered when Belfour got injured, Aubin was a late season call-up and performed so well he almost saved their season. 

At least 5 of the 11 non-starters are going to be available at the start of the season, so look for Nonis do be doing a little shopping days before the season starts.

The Chief Canuck

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