Blog: NHL GMs no longer willing to dish out big bucks for goalies

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

That sound you hear is the furious scratching of Mike Gillis’ pencil as he scrambles to include a couple more ludicrous clauses in Roberto Luongo’s contract in the hopes it gets voided by the NHL.

Maybe bonuses for yelling at Henrik to pass to Daniel or losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs would do it?

The most interesting aspect of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year deal being nixed by the league – and the subsequent decision of arbitrator Richard Bloch to uphold that action – is the revelation the league is apparently conducting “ongoing” investigations into some previous crazy-long deals, including that of the Canucks goalie.

Talk about a stroke of good luck for Gillis.

OK, let’s not turn this into a bashing session of a good GM and a guy who, recent post-season blow-ups aside, is still a pretty darned good goalie.

The real issue here is Luongo signed his 12-year extension last fall, about 10 months or so before NHL GMs decided they were done paying big bucks to puckstoppers.

The softening goalie market has been well documented this summer, most recently by Darren Eliot of

Eliot spells out a host of reasons why goaltending has become a more volatile position post-lockout, noting a more wide open game has increased the amount of taxing lateral movement goalies endure and that in turn has at least partially accounted for the fact goalies are at a greater risk of chronic injuries than before. (Some argue the butterfly style in general makes its implementers more prone to hip and knee troubles.)

In addition to those highly tangible facts, we tend to think notions of what can be reasonably expected from goalies on a year-to-year basis have crept closer to earth.

If hockey history has taught us anything it’s that no matter the circumstance, it’s always the goalie’s fault when his team loses – no exceptions or excuses.

That’s how every net guardian must feel, anyways, when the fingers inevitably get pointed.

Realistically, it’s just too easy to cling to goalie errors and cite them as an example of why Goaltender X just isn’t up to snuff when it counts. It also seems very natural to forget each generation only has one or two creasemen who reach the same high level season after season.

In that vein, would anybody really be surprised if by Christmas of this year we’re all talking about how the Habs may have actually made the right move shipping out Jaroslav Halak in favor of Carey Price, or how Steve Mason looks like the best young stopper in the game again, or how Tim Thomas re-gained the No. 1 job in Boston, while sophomore Tuukka Rask fights his way through a sophomore jinx?

None of that would raise an eyebrow on this mug.

And neither does the fact GMs finally seem unwilling to sink major dollars into a position that’s proven to be the most volatile of any on the ice.

THN Puck Panel: Analyzing the Ilya Kovalchuk contract

PRODUCER: Ted Cooper

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Tuesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

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