Mitch (the other hockey guy) is back again with the UFA of the day. Today he ponders life after Luongo, a life that could include Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild. You can follow Mitch on Twitter at @Mitch_SBMedia.
So over the past few days I’ve brought the likes of Matt Carle and Kristian Huselius. Two players who I think could fit in well with the Canucks. A big-bodied defenseman who can play big minutes and is rarely in the box, and a play-making winger who can also put the puck in the net. Today I’m going to go the other way and suggest a UFA who resides in the blue paint. Time to talk goalies.
Name: Josh Harding
Size: 6’1″, 195lbs
Why the Canucks might want him: If the writing truly is on the wall for Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack isn’t quite where he needs to be in terms of being an NHL backup, then Josh Harding is a goalie the Canucks could target as a back up to Cory Schneider next season. Harding hasn’t played a whole ton and has had a few problems with injuries, but he can at least start 25-30 games, taking some of the pressure off of Schneider in his first season as a starter. In my opinion, Harding could come in pretty cheap. Not the $750k he made last season, but possibly cheaper than some of the other UFA backups.
Why the Canucks might not want him: His past injuries could be a bit of a concern. He missed all of 2010-11 with a knee injury, but has apparently fully recovered. The Canucks may not be willing to pay too much for Harding either. He made $750k last season and because of how shallow the UFA pool is for goalies this off-season, some teams might be willing to overpay for his services.
What I would do: Propose an offer of one year. Harding probably doesn’t want to be a backup forever, and with Eddie Lack coming down the pike a one year deal could be best for both Harding and the Canucks. I would sign him for one year at a rate of $1.5 for the year. It’s a respectable number, twice of what he made last season with the Wild, but I would guess it’s significantly less than what he could be offered by other clubs. With Vancouver he’s given 25-30 games and a chance to succeed, raise his stock and possibly get some action in the post season.
X-Factor: In 2003 he was voted the WHL goalie of the year, a distinction that probably doesn’t mean a whole helluva lot now that he’s 27 and in the NHL. In fact, if he were to use that in contract negotiations he’d probably be laughed out of the room, but it’s something that sounds funny when I think about it. It’s even funnier when I think of it like this:
“Well, we’d like extra, after all, he was the 2003 goalie of the year in the WHL.”
“That is quite an honor, but he’s been retired for 8 years and is trying to finance a 1996 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. That award doesn’t mean too much to us here”
Rob Says: I think Mitch has highlighted an interesting option for the Canucks here. If the Canucks do indeed get rid of Roberto Luongo, I think it’s a good idea to give Eddie Lack one more year in the AHL. When you’ve got a young goalie in his first year as a starter, it helps having a more veteran presence by his side. Harding has been an extremely reliable back-up in Minnesota, and hasn’t been given many quality starts. He had a winning record last year in 30 starts and had an impressive save percentage (.917). With that said, Harding might be difficult for the Canucks to acquire. Harding is 27, and if he has designs of being a starting goalie one day, Vancouver isn’t likely the place for him. If he just wants to play for a good team and get paid, the Canucks might be his destination of choice.