Sometimes NHL teams are willing to roll the dice on giving a big contract to a relatively unproven back-up goalie. Sometimes it goes good, other times it goes bad, here are some examples. Not all of these occurred on the free agent market, some were acquired by trade and then given an extension.
1- Martin Jones, San Jose July 1 2015, 3 years $9M: They took a gamble on a guy who had mostly just been a really good back-up goalie and instead got a legit #1 who took them to a Stanley Cup final. Not bad.
2- Cam Talbot, Edmonton Jan 17 2016, 3 years $12.5M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. Talbot played a key role getting the Oilers to a playoff spot and past the 1st round. His play has taken a step backwards in 2017/18 as the team has struggled. He's still young and should bounce back.
3- Ben Bishop, Tampa Apr 15,2013, 2 years $4.6M: Signed by Steve Yzerman. In his first full-time starting job in the NHL, Bishop played well with a 2.23 GAA and .924 SV%. Helped the Lightning make a deep playoff run in year two.
4- Simeon Varlamov, Colorado July 2 2011, 3 years $8.5M: Signed by Greg Sherman. He was nominated for the Vezina trophy in year three and was rewarded with a monster contract.
5- Cory Schneider, Vancouver June 28 2012, 3 years $12M: Signed by Mike Gillis. Serving mostly as a back-up to Luongo before signing this contract, Schneider was traded to New Jersey after one season and played great for the final two years.
1- Vesa Toskala, Toronto July 4 2007, 2 years $8M: Signed by John Ferguson jr, traded away by Brian Burke with another bad contract for another bad contract (JS Giguere). Toskala was awful after signing this contract. In his last season in Toronto before being traded he had a 3.66 GAA and .874 SvPct in 26 GP. The last spot was between Toskala and Bernier, and I gave it to Vesa who put up the worse numbers.
2- Scott Darling, Carolina May 5 2017, 4 years $16.6M: Signed by Ron Francis. There is still time remaining on this deal for his play to improve, but thus far year one has been a disaster. The Hurricanes have had to rely on back-up Cam Ward to re-take the starting job. We'll see if he can dig his way out
3- Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton July 5 2012, 2 years $7M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. This was the contract that got Dubnyk chased out of Edmonton, where he put together an awful 3.43 GAA and .891 SV% in year two. He would eventually redeem himself in Minnesota.
4- Viktor Fasth, Anaheim Feb 20 2013, 2 years $5.8M: Signed by Bob Murray. Fasth had done well in a 25 game audition the previous season, but it got bad fast on the new deal. Anaheim dumped the contract on Edmonton, and by year two he posted a 3.41 GAA and .888 SV%.
5- Andrew Hammond, Ottawa May 20 2015, 3 years $4M: He signed this extension after his remarkable "Hamburgler" run where he posted a 1.79 GAA and .941 SV% in 24 GP to get Ottawa into the playoffs. By year two this contract got really bad (4.08 GAA and .837 SV%).