Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greener Pastures for Toskala?

With unrestricted free agency looming for Vesa Toskala, the Calgary Flames didn't want to leave much doubt that the Finnish netminder will be smack dab in the middle of the free agent frenzy and not a part of the Flames organization on that day.

In a statement and interview with the Calgary media on Wednesday, GM Darryl Sutter had put to rest any concern, doubt or curiosity as to whether or not the belittled goaltender will back-up Miikka Kiprusoff in 2011, saying that Vesa Toskala still has an eye on being either a number one goalie or platooning on a regular basis, getting consistent starts.  I suppose the real question becomes, 'is there some team in the NHL that would be looking to Toskala to fill that kind of role?'

Toskala just finished a 2-year contract extension, which he signed in Toronto before the 2007/'08 season, which gave him a substantial raise and a cap hit of $4 million through the 2009/'10 season that has just passed.  Well, after a horrible pair of seasons as the Maple Leafs number one, he was dealt to Anaheim for J-S Giguere, where he didn't see any action and then was dealt again at the deadline to Calgary, where he saw a bit of action behind Miikka Kiprusoff until the end of the regular season.  Toskala only finished the year with 9 wins and a shutout in 2010, ranking him 48th among goalies according to my own list, but what kind of value would he be looking for in a new deal?

His market value, if comparing 2010 numbers for his age band (32 to 34 years old), he could be compared (only in numbers, not by playing style or confidence) to Scott Clemmensen in Florida, scheduled to make $1.2 million in 2011 or even Brian Boucher in Philadelphia, who will make $925,000 in 2011.  Staying in that age band, Toskala will be up against Jose Theodore and Martin Biron for new deals as unrestricted free agents and you would have to believe he would rank third to those two guys and only Theodore really has a good shot at getting a starting job.  I would also assume that if Toskala wants a starting job, he'll also be looking for starter's money as well and I couldn't see any NHL GM justify $3.5+ million a year for Toskala.

It might be a wise career move to see if he can resurrect his career outside of the NHL and get away from the leering eyes of the judgemental media around here that has it out for him and see if he can regain some of his confidence before trying to tackle a number one job here again.  But that's just me giving my two cents about the whole thing.

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