Offseason playbook: Goalies

Over the next day or two, I'm going to take a look at the offseason situation for the three positions - who's under contract, who's a free agent and who is out there on the free agent market. I'm not going to even try to predict what will happen this summer; even Francois Giguere has said that much of what happens will depend on the decisions of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. But, it's good to at least know what sort of options are out there.

The goalie position is pretty cut and dry right now. Peter Budaj is the only player under contract, at a bargain price of $800,000 ($700,000 is the cap hit). Jose Theodore is an unrestricted free agent. Tyler Weiman and Michael Wall are both free agents as well. I don't know the status of Jason Bacashihua, but suspect he may be a free agent too. The latter three, at best, are candidates to be a back up but would more likely be organizational depth if they return.

The question here is whether or not the Avalanche re-sign Theodore. The free agency market is rather slim when it comes to goalies. Theodore is probably the biggest name on the market, which means two things for the Avalanche. One, it should drive up his market value, perhaps pricing him right out of Denver. And two, if he does leave, it means there's not a lot of other starting-caliber goalies out there. Cristobel Huet is one option in the UFA market, but after that you're talking about guys with some scattered success like Johan Holmqvist, Alex Auld or Ty Conklin. Denver native John Grahame is an interesting name as well, but really beyond Theodore and Huet we're probably not talking about guys who would be an upgrade to Budaj. There are likely to be other options on the trade market - Dwayne Roloson, Ray Emery - but I'm not sure that Roloson's 38-year-old body or Emery's 8-year-old mentality will be of much help in Denver.

Last summer we were heading into the season fully expecting to have Peter Budaj at the helm with Theodore as a backup, and many of us - myself included - were comfortable with that scenario. If Theodore leaves - a very real possibility - are we still comfortable with Budaj? Is Budaj capable of being a regular starter in the NHL? I'm starting to think that - barring a blockbuster trade - we're going to find out the answer.

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