Ranking The 2019 NHL Free Agents Class: Goalies Of Old
Nashville Predators Pekkia Rinne is one of the top pending 2019 NHL free agents.

This was not an easy process. The goal here illustrates the fact that free agency classes can be fickle to say the least. Which free agents will provide the biggest point per dollar return? Better yet, which ones will not end up in the buyer’s remorse category?

Those were two major factors to consider. Age is another big aspect as far as pre-prime, prime, near past prime, and past prime. First things first, we wanted to consider the oldies but goodies. These are players approaching or past the age of 35.

Apparently, more free agents are near, at, or over this number than expected. Expect the unexpected here as far as age, dollar amounts, and more. Here are three of the most sought-after free agents from the soon to be 35 and up goaltender category.

NHL Free Agents 35+ Goalies

3. Mike Smith — Calgary Flames — 38 years old in 2019

Again, the question becomes how long can Smith play. Smith is on the last year of a six-year deal that paid him $5.66 million AAV. However, Smith conjuring up memories of his days of melting down in Arizona cannot be good. The risk with the Calgary goalie is he can have seasons where he does blow up in a bad way. He once has a goals saved above average of -20.

The good thing is Calgary has a capable backup in David Rittich (it would appear). Smith trade possibilities exist as he does have a modified NTC. The goalie submits an eight-team no-trade list to management. That seems unlikely. On the other hand, one never knows.

He’ll earn $5 million for the 2018-19 campaign. What could he make for 2019-20, if he chooses to return? The current cap is $79.5 million and could be as high as $82-85 million for 2019-20. Likely, Smith cutting his pay appears to be inevitable. No one will even pay him $5 million at this juncture. If Smith’s numbers plummet further, the goalie may even have to catch on via a Professional Tryout Contract. One of his cap comparables is next, ironically.

2. Jimmy Howard — Detroit Red Wings — 35 years old in 2019

Last season saw Howard dip in some key numbers including save percentage (right at .910). It was not terrible, but that goals against saved average approaching -5 was troublesome. This was knowing that Detroit was in a rebuilding process. Howard facing nearly 35 shots was not unexpected. His early numbers have not been awful but wins are few (just one). Ultimately, Howard’s 3.07 GAA and .913 save percentage are around projections (slightly above average overall).

His metrics display a slight improvement in penalty kill save percentage and even strength save percentage. What is the problem? Detroit bleeds goals and does not score many. This is a situation that can weight on any goaltender — even a long-term veteran. Is Howard even in next year’s plans? That is something which needs to be asked. Does he get traded? Howard’s modified NTC ended last year.

Howard earns $4.25 million for the 2018-19 season. What may he get paid for 2019-20? Does he even make it to free agency? The likelihood is he leaves Detroit after this year as the Red Wings continue rebuilding. Teams are leery of giving a goalie a multi-year deal at age 35. A dollar amount could be around $2.5-$3.5 million. This depends on rest of season production. Stay tuned.

1. Pekka Rinne — Nashville Predators — 36 years old by October 2019

Rinne’s pending free agent status comes after two amazing seasons in Nashville. His high-priced contract at $7,000,000 means a steady or slight decrease for his next deal. The question looms as to how much.

Regression is expected for the goalie this year. An early injury wasn’t, unfortunately. Hopefully, an early week return does materialize as Rinne was enjoying a hot start (3-1-1, 2.10 GAA, .929 save percentage). Though his even-strength save percentage continues to rise, his penalty kill save percentage fell a good bit. Keep in mind, after five games, this is a very small sample size. His overall numbers are still that of a Vezina trophy winner (he won his first last year).

Rinne cranking out 35-40 wins is still a definite possibility. What could he make next season if he tests free agency? Honestly, the feeling is that Nashville signs him to anywhere from a one to three-year deal. A three-year deal places Rinne at almost 40. His rest of season production and Juuse Saros dictates his future worth.

2019 NHL Free Agents – Centermen – Over 35 class