5 NHL Goalies In “Make-Or-Break” Seasons

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons

NHL
Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Every season in the NHL, there seems to be that one standout player who performs well to secure a big contract after the season. There also are players who fall under pressure with one year left on their contract. Sometimes players have secured jobs until younger, more hungry players compete and take their job. This list is of the five most pressured NHL goalies to take the ice this season (whenever the lockout ends).

These goalies have had some success in their careers, whether brief or long. Some of these guys have one year left on their remaining contracts and are looking to break bank in their organizations. Some also have younger players who have been acquired or have stepped up their game in the past couple of seasons, which could eventually cost the starters their job.

The market for goalies is small. In order to get a great contract, one needs to play great and play consistent. One break out month will not secure one's fan hood in their city. Just ask Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has been criticized ever since he has been acquired last offseason. The goaltender is the most important position in hockey when it comes to winning championships. So these five goalies need to have extremely good seasons or they could find themselves in another city or even worse, without a job.

So let's begin with our list of the five NHL goalies who need to have successful seasons or they could be facing a rough road ahead...

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons: Boston Bruins - Tim Thomas

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James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Tim Thomas has won a Stanley Cup, a Vezina Trophy, and even the hearts of many people in the city of Boston. But this season could be the biggest of the 38-year old goaltenders' career. Last season, Thomas played 59 games for the Boston Bruins and recorded a 35-19-1 record with a 2.36 GAA. Thomas has been up and down in his entire career. His unorthodox style of goaltending has lead to some bad goals, but also some amazing saves. But with Tuukka Rask, a young 25-year old goalie from Finland, behind him, Thomas could be close to seeing the end of the road in Boston. If Thomas wants to continue his career as a starter, he will need to break out this season and play like he has never played before, which could be a struggle at age 38.

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons: Columbus Blue Jackets - Steve Mason

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Russell LaBounty-US PRESSWIRE

Just when you think that the Columbus Blue Jackets had enough problems with their organization, they decide to add goalie controversy to it when they acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Flyers this offseason. Steve Mason was thought to be the next great goalie in the NHL, especially after his tremendous rookie season where he went 33-20-7 with a 2.29 GAA for the Blue Jackets. They made the playoffs that season. But ever since 2008-2009, Mason has struggled mightily. In the past three seasons, Mason has seen his GAA rise to over 3.00 in each. With the acquisition of Bobrovsky, the 24-year old Mason could soon find his way onto the bench and maybe eventually on his way out of Columbus.

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons: Toronto Maple Leafs - James Reimer

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Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a whole lot of problems in their organization. But right now, their goalie James Reimer is not the main problem. In his career, Reimer is 32-24-9 with a 2.83 GAA. The 24-year old goaltender has only seen limited time in his first two seasons of his career. The reason that this could be a make-or-break season for Reimer is the possibility of Toronto making a trade to acquire a goaltender. Reimer needs to step up his game and show some improvement in order to find himself back in Toronto for 2013-2014.

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons: Minnesota Wild - Nicklas Backstrom

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Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

34-year old goaltenders usually end up transitioning into a backup role at this point in their career unless they have been consistent throughout their entire career. Well for Nicklas Backstrom, this season could determine his destiny for the rest of his career. Backstrom has been the Minnesota Wild's goalie since 2006-2007. In his first three season with the Wild, Backstrom helped lead them into the playoffs twice but has never made it out of the first round. With the Wild adding two key players on offense and defense this year, the pressure will be on Backstrom to stay consistent and finally get the Wild farther than they have ever gone before.

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5 NHL Goalies In "Make-Or-Break" Seasons: Vancouver Canucks - Roberto Luongo

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

There are usually players that give a team the best of both worlds while playing and the Vancouver Canucks have seen it first hand. Roberto Luongo may be one of the best regular season goalies in the NHL but he also may be one of the biggest playoff busts as well. Luongo has a huge contract and he has not been playing to the level of that contract. He was benched after giving up 7 goals in two games for backup goalie Corey Schneider. The fans in Vancouver seem to like Schneider a lot. What Luongo needs to do this season is take the Canucks back to the Stanley Cup and win it, or the fans will basically want him gone. With a young goaltender waiting in the wings, it is only a matter of time before Luongo is dealt. Toronto maybe?

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