Can the Minnesota Wild Improve at Back-up Goaltender?

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 04: Alex Stalock #32 of the Minnesota Wild makes a save during a game with the Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center on April 4, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 04: Alex Stalock #32 of the Minnesota Wild makes a save during a game with the Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center on April 4, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Arguably not, given Stalock’s recent 3 year extension. At Stalock’s price point though, one wonders if Fenton could decide to add a net-minder?

Stalock did not have a good season this year with the Wild. At 650k a year, he represents a very easy contract to bury in the minors. With a 6-8-0 record, and an .899% save percentage, It would be wise to invest in an upgrade at net-minder.

More from Gone Puck Wild

How Much Money do Teams Spend on Goalies?

Usually, NHL teams seem to fall in two veins when it comes to goalies. a lot of teams have 1 starter goalie and 1 minimal back up (the Wild), and a lot of teams run a 1A 1B tandem (Carolina, Boston, etc.).

In this scenario Minnesota would run a 1A 1B tandem, meaning more money would be invested in goalies in order to provide Dubnyk with a lighter work load. Braden Holtby credited this style of goal-tending specifically when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup last year. It’s fair to say this is a successful strategy.

Anyway, Carolina is a poor example as they don’t have a goalie with a cap hit equal to Dubnyk, so I’m going to use Boston, Dallas, and Colorado. Dubnyk makes $4,333,333 a season, and the contract runs till 2020-2021. At least for the next two years, Dubnyk will be the starter.

  • Boston invested 7 million in Rask, and $2,750,000 in Halak. $9,750,000 in total.
  • Dallas invested 4,916,666 in Bishop, and 2.5 million in Khudobin. $8,114,166 in total.
  • Colorado invested 5.9 million in Varlamov, and 3,333,333 in Grubauer. $9,233,333 in total.

So, from that, we can speculate that Minnesota has roughly 3-5 million to spend on a goalie, if they feel the need to.

Is a New Goalie Worth it For the Wild?

I believe so. As I explained earlier Stalock had a bad season. Here are some advanced stats to tack on to his record and save percentage:

SA     Saves   GA     SV%        GAA       GSAA    HDSA    HDS      HDGA    HDSV%     HDGAA   HDGSAA

 525   472       53     0.899    2.99      -5.68    126        96         30          0.762       1.69         -7.22

                                    62/93   52/93   73/93   62/93   64/93  57/93   81/93      29/93     78/93

(GSAA=Goals Saved Above Average, HDSA=High Danger Shots Against, HDS= High Danger Saves, HDGA= High Danger Goals Against, HDSV%= High Density Save Percentage, HDGAA= High Danger Goals Against Average, HDSGSAA= High Danger Goals Saved Above Average)

Their are only 11 goalies who have a lower HDSV% than Stalock and over half of them have played less than 10 games this season. Brutal. He ranked near Aaron Dell, Michal Neuvirth, Calvin Pickard, and Peter Budaj. Not exactly elite company. Stalock sits firmly in the bottom third in most categories out of the 93 goalies that played a game this regular season.

So yes, I firmly believe that the Wild need a new goalie, and that the investment is worth it.

The Goalie Market This Summer

There are a couple of good free agent names out there, but it’s a very top-heavy free agent class in net. Here are my top 2 candidates for the Wild to consider:

Brian Elliott- Philadelphia Flyers

Between Carter Hart, Cam Talbot, Michal Neuvirth, and Brian Elliott, something’s gotta give. At this point, Hart is the clear starter in Philly. Meaning one of the remaining names will be put in the back-up role. If I was a betting man, given Talbot’s relationship with Hart, he’s who the Flyers are keeping.

This means Elliott is available. At 34 years of age, Elliot is not going to overpower Dubnyk and steal the starter gig. However over the past three seasons he has been close to or at a .910% save percentage. This is exactly the type of player the Wild need. Adding a player that can play 25-35 game and win 60%-70% of them, posting at least a .910% and a GAA under 3.00, would help Dubnyk tonnes.

As far as cost goes. He’s come of a contract that paid him 3.7 million dollars a season as a starter. Now, with his skill-set combined with recent stats, he’s will be taking a pay cut. I would be shocked if Elliott got an offer of over 3 million, and would place him near or at 2.5 million a year.

Curtis McElhinney- Carolina Hurricanes

What a story he’s been.

After being claimed on waivers at the start of the season by the Hurricanes from the Maple Leafs, McElhinney was in flux. Claimed originally because Scott Darling was injured to start the season, he ended up suiting up for 33 games for the Canes. This is Mostly due to Darling’s struggles this season. In those 33 games McElhinney posted a .912% saver percentage and a 1.58 GAA.

McElhinney, much like Elliott is a prime of example of a perfect back-up for Dubnyk. In the two years prior, with the Leafs he posted a .934% and a .914% save percentage. There’s only one real issue when it comes to acquiring him. I doubt that he’ll actually go to free agency. If I had to wager a bet (again) I would say that Darling gets bought out, and McElhinney and Mrazek are re-signed.

If however, McElhinney does make it to fee agency, the Wild would be smart to acquire him. If he does hit the market he’s going to get a raise. Currently, he’s only making 850k, which is a steal. He should be at or near Elliott’s 2.5 million dollar price range.

Wrap Up

So, at current Minnesota Wild have a back-up goalie that can play 15-20 games, and win maybe 10 of them. It isn’t good enough. The stats suggest and championship history suggest that the Wild should invest in a 1B to back-up Dubnyk. Do you agree with my picks? Let me know in the comments who you’d want to see in a tandem with Devan Dubnyk.