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Better know a free agent: Thomas Greiss

What does the free agent market look like for Thomas Greiss?

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

Thomas Greiss was a shot in the arm for the Phoenix Coyotes: he's was capable backup who simply never had a fair shake in San Jose. Although his 10-8-5 record was not particularly decent, his .920 save percentage and his two shutouts are more than enough to justify his spot on the Coyotes' roster. Phoenix would love to have him continue to back up Mike Smith, but how likely is that?

If Greiss decides he wants more playing time, it seems like there would be more than a few potentially interested suitors for his talents. While most teams are always looking for a serviceable backup, a few franchises currently have quite a bit of flux in their systems that would potentially enable Greiss to either compete for a No. 1 job or more equitably split time in a tandem system. Let's see who some of these teams might be.

New York Islanders

Current Goaltenders:

  • Evgeni Nabokov (15-14-8, 2.74 GAA, .905 SV%, UFA)
  • Anders Nilsson (8-7-2, 3.11 GAA, .896 SV%, RFA)
The Islanders are a hot mess for so many reasons. One of their largest problems that has yet to be addressed is their weakness in goal. Nabokov will turn 39 this offseason and statistically had a very subpar year.

At 23, Nilsson is likely the team's goalie of the future, but his stats are even more disastrous than Nabokov's. Greiss would represent an immediate upgrade over the tandem now and could buy the Isles a couple of more years to see what they have in Nilsson.

Calgary Flames

Current Goaltenders:

  • Karri Ramo (17-15-4, 2.65 GAA, .911 SV%, UFA after 2014-15 season)
  • Joni Ortio (4-4-0, 2.52 GAA, .891 SV%, RFA)
The Flames are in a tough spot, as usual. Ramo is still under contract for another season at $2.75M, and Ortio has been serviceable since he was called up following the trade of Reto Berra to the Colorado Avalanche. Ortio looks like he needs more time in the minors before taking on a significant NHL role, so Greiss could be paired up with Ramo as the team still searches for a goalie to replace Miikka Kiprusoff. Will Greiss follow new Flames GM Brad Treliving to the Calgary?

Winnipeg Jets

Current Goaltenders:

  • Ondrej Pavelec (22-26-7, 3.01 GAA, .901 SV%, UFA after 2016-17 season)
  • Al Montoya (13-8-3, 2.30 GAA, .920 SV%, UFA)
  • Michael Hutchinson (2-1-0, 1.64 GAA, .943 SV%, RFA)
Pavelec is frequently mentioned as a compliance buyout target, and looking at his numbers, it isn't hard to see why. Pavelec played considerably worse than his counterpart, former Coyotes prospect Al Montoya.

The presence of Hutchinson on the roster makes Manitoba a slightly less likely destination for Greiss. But if Pavelec does in fact get bought out and Montoya moves on to greener pastures, (two moves that seem mutually exclusive in my opinion), the Jets could use someone like Greiss to share the workload.

Other Non-Starting Roles

There are a variety of teams that would love to improve their fortunes in the backup role. The Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, the New Jersey Devils, the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals are all teams that could potentially be shopping for a No. 2 goaltender in the open market this summer.

Each of these teams appears to be pretty set in terms of their starter, but all have pending UFA backups that for a variety of reasons may not be brought back into the fold.


Both Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue are still not quite at the point where they can reliably earn NHL minutes, and the fact that Mike Smith plays the lion's share of games in Phoenix makes someone looking for ice time hesitant to sign on the dotted line.

Greiss has been the best backup the team has had in a long time, and General Manager Don Maloney should make a concerted effort to keep him in the Valley until Domingue or Visentin prove they are ready for the big show.