Where might Free Agent Goalie Jose Theodore wind up?

The Washington Capitals’ 2009-10 season was filled with several outstanding moments, from unbelieveable come-from-behind victories to record setting performances. It’s no secret that one of our favorite moments centered around netminder Jose Theodore in which he seemingly overcame his off-season loss and strapped on his pads to play some of the best hockey of his career.

Through Theodore’s in-rink successes (including back-to-back 30+ win seasons with the Capitals) and off-ice accolades we couldn’t help but rally in support of JT60. And while we weren’t enthused with the news of his departure, we realize the separation would better benefit the Capitals’ present quest for the Cup and overall future of the team.

Much like Olaf Kolzig and Brian Pothier before him, Theo’s become one of the former Caps I will always continue to root for. He’s yet to sign with an NHL team for the forth-coming season, and the reports of his interest growing in European squads leave me feeling for the backstop whose skills seemed out shined by his exorbitant $4.5M/year contract in a horrible goalie free agent market. I’m still holding out hope for Theodore in the NHL, and when his “worth” is re-evaluated to reflect Marty Turco‘s pants-dropping contract in Chicago there are several teams unbridled by the Salary Cap who would be able to afford an estimated $1.5-$2M for the Vezina and Hart Trophy winning netminder.

Nashville Predators – With only one goaltender on the books, the Preds are the first team to come to mind. Pekka Rinne has been nothing short of amazing over the past two seasons – but has always been part of a rotation. At 28, and entering only his 3rd full season as a pro, Rinne would benefit greatly learning from Theodore’s experience. Moreover, Theo’s presence would be able to ensure Rinne isn’t overworked in his first season as a starter.

Ottawa Senators – After the Sens failed to find a reliable starter last season in the injured (and wildly inconsistent) Pascal Leclaire, Brian Elliot was called on to right the ship. Finishing the season at 29-18-4 with a 2.57 GAA and .909 Sv % for a mere $850K, Elliot was a steal but didn’t seem ready for a full time job. With Theodore’s experience and ability, he would be a very suitable tutor for the 25-year old (and could be signed for a more reasonable salary after waiving Leclaire’s current cap hit of $3.8M).

New York Islanders – It’s no secret that the Isles love stockpiling goaltenders, and are currently one shy of the three goalie system they normally employ. Furthermore, since Rick DiPietro still hasn’t found a way to stay healthy longer than a few hours, New York is currently relying on Dwayne Roloson between the pipes. As the oldest goalie in the NHL by 3 years, the soon-to-be 41 year old Roloson will no doubt need a competent backstop with whom to split 20-40 games. This would relatively be the same role that the recently departed Marty Biron filled last season (29GP), however one can expect Theodore to be an upgrade in GAA and Sv % (3.27 and .896%, respectively) over Biron- at nearly the same price ($1.4M).  As an additional bonus, Theodore would easily be able to outplay Roloson for the starting role on the Isle.

In addition to these three teams, I can see Theodore being called upon in Philadelphia if the Flyers’ tandem of Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher don’t pan out, or in Tampa Bay if Stevie Y’s love for the experienced supersede his confidence in Dan Ellis and Mike Smith.  While both viable options, I can only assume as a player that has always started Theo wouldn’t want to be a team’s fall back plan post-failure.

Currently sitting a mere 3 weeks from the start of training camp, there is still time for Theo to find a new team to call home. Regardless of where Jose Theodore winds up, I’ll always be pulling for him – y’know, unless he’s playing the Caps.