Filling Goaltending Holes with Free Agency

February 20, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters (35) against the Washington Capitals at the RBC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Capitals 5-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

The goaltending in the Columbus organization was given a huge facelift over the past week or so, but the results of said facelift are in some cases years away from being revealed. Shortly before the NHL Entry Draft, Columbus sent three draft picks (all acquired via previous trades) to Philadelphia for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Last season, Bobrovsky's second in the league, was near-identical statistically to Steve Mason's season. Not good. Rewind one season prior however, and the rookie version of Bobrovsky was fantastic. The hope is that Bob and Mason, two talented goaltenders, can push each other for playing time. Nobody will be handed anything, with the competition deciding who gets the cage every game.

Additionally, Columbus took two great young European goaltenders with their second and third round picks at the draft. Both will likely make the trip overseas to play Canadian junior, and in a few years will challenge for roster spots with the Jackets.

Until that point however, the organization has some holes to fill. They have a goalie in Europe developing (Anton Forsberg) and another in college, struggling for playing time (Martin Ouellette) but the only other goaltender in the pro ranks is Allen York, who is penciled in as half of the tandem in Springfield next season.

York will need a partner, ideally a guy who can push for time in the NHL if/when injuries occur. The organization also needs a goalie to step in if one of the Springfield guys goes down to injury, or gets called up.

Let's take a look at some of the options for these two spots.

Cedrick Desjardins
Age: 26
2011/2012: Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)
NHL Salary: $650,000
AHL Salary: $150,.000

Was a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization, playing parts of four seasons with Montreal's AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs after signing as an undrafted free agent. He was traded to the Tampa Bay organization, appearing in two games for the big club, and last year he was in Colorado's system, playing primarily for their AHL club in Lake Erie after signing a one year deal.

Last season he was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL, putting up a record of 16-11-3-5, with a goals against average of 2.11 with a 0.932 save percentage. He also recorded three shutouts and played in the AHL All Star game.

He fits the mold perfectly- a veteran AHL goaltender who can step into the NHL if necessary. A bit more NHL experience would be ideal, but given his CV I believe he'd be the perfect partner for York with the Falcons. A slight bump in pay would get this deal done, but I'm sure a lot of teams are interested in adding Desjardins to the organziation.

Jeff Zatkoff
Age: 25
2011/2012: Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
NHL Salary: $577,500
AHL Salary: $60,000

Has been a long-time member of the LA Kings organization, spending the past three seasons in the AHL after splitting time in his rookie pro season bouncing between the AHL and ECHL. He's established himself as a very good goaltender at the AHL level, joining Desjardins as an AHL All Star last season. He has Ohio ties as well, as he was a member of Miami from 2005 to 2007.

With Jonathan Quick locked up long term, Kings backup Jonathan Bernier is likely to be traded. It's unknown at this point if the Kings want Zatkoff to step in and be Quick's understudy, but given his UFA status Zatkoff has the freedom to shop himself around, and Columbus may be a situation he likes, given their less than certain situation between the pipes. A higher AHL salary could be the enticement required for the Jackets to lock him up.

Justin Peters
Age: 25
2011/2012: Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
NHL Salary: $550,000
AHL Salary: $105,000

Like Zatkoff, Peters is a young goaltender in a situation where he is stuck behind a very good goalie at the NHL level. Cam Ward is Carolina's go-to guy between the pipes, and Brian Boucher is signed for one more year as the 'Cane's backup. Peters has the talent to push for a backup job, as evident by his appearance in seven NHL games last season.

His stats in the AHL didn't match those of Zatkoff or Desjardins, but that has more to do with the teams they were playing on. Peters needs a change of scenery, and would look very good in Union Blue as the organization's number three. Like Zatkoff, a bump in AHL salary could be the ticket to bringing him on board.

Gerald Coleman
Age: 27
2011/2012: Alakska Aces (ECHL), Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)

Coleman's rights are held by the Colorado Avalanche until July 1st, but that's only because they signed him to a tryout deal last season when they had serious goaltending health issues throughout the organization. He is generally considered to be the best goaltender in the ECHL, but his run with the Monsters last season showed that he has the ability to succeed in the AHL as well.

If he's willing to come to a similar situation in Columbus, he could fight for playing time with the Falcons, or be the main man with the Jackets' new ECHL affiliate- the Evansville Icemen. For what it's worth, he was a teammate of Marc Methot with the London Knights of the OHL.

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