Games are the hallmark of goalie development. Sure, players work on all facets of their game, but as a prospect knocking on the door for an NHL job, nothing beats game situations for player development. With the NHL welcoming in the Vegas Golden Knights and presumably opening up four jobs (if they get their own farm club) a shortlist of netminders have a shot at NHL jobs once the music stops.
Helping opening up opportunity is a handful of teams struggling to find reliable goaltending at all, forget about the shuffling of backups. Combing through the AHL a few men that mind the twine should get long looks this offseason, either by their current NHL club or Vegas who are officially open for business. Overall these are goaltenders that need to be on your radar, if not already stashed in your minors, for potential starts in the 2016-17 season.
Columbus Blue Jackets/Cleveland Monsters
Contract status: RFA
There is a lot to like in Forsberg from a Vegas standpoint. He backstopped the Monsters to a Calder Cup last season, played spot duty in the NHL this year, young, and looks ready to take the next step. He could be a dual-threat player for Vegas in the expansion draft capable of playing in their inaugural season or immediately providing depth at the position in the new organization.
Calgary Flames/Stockton Heat
Contract Status: RFA
While Brian Elliott appears to have regained some of his mojo since the start of 2017, the battery of Elliott and Chad Johnson has not inspired confidence. Rittich is an older player with ideal size (6'4 and over 200-pounds) and pro experience in his native Czech Republic. He's taken the lion's share of starts for the Heat and posted an impressive .926 save percentage in his first year in North America and could be in line for a look as a backup.
Washington Capitals/Hershey Bears
Contract Status: UFA
The Capitals re-acquired the North Pole, AK native at the trade deadline knowing Philipp Grubauer, seen as a target of the Golden Knights, is gone in the offseason. Copley has just two starts at the NHL level, one each the last two years with the St. Louis Blues, but he will not see much action behind Braden Holtby anyway. Assuming the Caps and their noted goalie whisperer Mitch Korn are high on him enough to trade to get the 25-year-old back into the organization, you can safely assume as well he will challenge for the backup job. His AHL career numbers are solid: a .918 save percentage and 2.27 goals against in four years of service.
San Jose Sharks/San Jose Barracuda
Contract Status: UFA
In an impressive turnaround season, all Grosenick has done is backstop the young Barracuda to the best winning percentage in the AHL. He leads the league with seven shutouts and is second in the league in save percentage and goals against average. He is the oldest player on the list (he will turn 28 this offseason) but also a UFA. A stike against him is the late-career jump statistically, which could be an abberration or just a case of a late-bloomer that finally put it all together. The season he is having with the Barracuda will, either way, spark an interest in his services especially with a deep playoff run by the San Jose farm club on the horizion. Vegas might also take a look at Grosenick for organizational depth with upside in case injury strikes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Contract Status: Signed (2017-18)
The Penguins are losing a goaltender this summer and if that would surprise you, you are probably not reading this article anyway. Marc-Andre Fluery and Matt Murray will be a starters somewhere in the league, but one of them is moving on. Jarry is in a prime position to slide right in behind whoever is left in the Penguins net. He's the Penguins best bet at the AHL level and getting spot starts in the NHL with the powerhouse Pittsburgh line-up makes him an excellent target this summer.
Boston Bruins/Providence Bruins
Contract status: RFA
The last on the list and the darkest of darkhorses. McIntyre struggled last season adjusting to the AHL but looks to have quickly righted the ship. His eight games this season in the NHL were shakey but the pedigree of McIntyre cannot be ignored. His worst save-percentage with the University of North Dakota was a .920 in his Freshman year and worked upward from there. Anton Khudobin has not been much better than McIntyre in Boston, so the backup spot appears to be an opening competition. This uncertainy leaves the possibility, while remote, for a job in the NHL.