35-Year-Old Goalie – Free Agent
Jason LaBarbera Contract Information:
Became an unrestricted free agent in July 2015.
LaBarbera will be the backup goalie Sunday against the Flames for Game 2, the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens reports.
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Jason LaBarbera: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
LaBarbera will assume the role that Nikolai Khabibulin had last season that of veteran backup to Devan Dubnyk. LaBarbera played quite well for Phoenix last year with a 2.64 GAA and .923 SV% for the defensively tight, but offensively-challenged Coyotes. Now he goes to a team that is the polar opposite and that is often a recipe for trouble. Still, LaBarbera could challenge for the starting role if he were to play well and Dubnyk were to falter. The Oil doesn't necessarily see Dubnyk as their long-term solution, so you just never know. Handcuff them to start, but be ready to snag LaBarbera off the wire in shallow leagues if the sands shift quickly out West.
While LaBarbera certainly had the opportunity of his career to win a starting job last year, it became clear early on why the Coyotes rolled with Mike Smith. LaBarbera's 2.54 GAA and .912 save percentage certainly weren't terrible, especially in a relief role, but his 3-9-3 record did little to indicate he'd be able to assume a full-time role. Smith will probably have a long leash this season, so we wouldn't expect to see much of LaBarbera at all.
Used to backing up the more-than-capable Ilya Bryzgalov in 2010-11, LaBarbera saw time in 17 games with 15 starts, posting a 7-6-3 record to go along with a .909 save percentage and 3.26-GAA. The 'Yotes have a strong sense of what they're getting in LaBarbera and will likely be inclined to test newcomer Mike Smith early in the season as the coaching staff experiments with their very different netminding situation. Heading into training camp, both LaBarbera and Smith have a chance to win the starting job.
Last season, LaBarbera showed his professionalism and class being the backup to Ilya Bryzgalov. When he got the rare start, he definitely made the most of it by posting a 8-5-1 record, a .928 save percentage, and a GAA of 2.13. For 2010-11, as long as Byrzgalov is still the number one netminder, LaBarbera will see the same amount of action - 14 or so games with similar numbers.
The Coyotes signed LaBarbera in the summer to backup Ilya Bryzgalov. It may have been Phoenix's best acquisition of the offseason, as LaBarbera is a very serviceable backup, and could fill in quite well if Bryzgalov goes down with an injury. Bryzgalov played 65 games last season, and looked worn down at points, so LaBarbera will serve well to give Bryzgalov the rest that he lacked in 2008-2009.
LaBarbera enters training camp with the likely inside track on the starting goaltending job, though he'll certainly be pushed by Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Bernier. LaBarbera saw action in 45 games last season before undergoing hernia surgery and went 17-23 with a 3.00 GAA and a .910 saves percentage. Don't expect huge numbers out of whomever wins the starting goalie job as the Kings will trot out a very inexperienced blueline.
The only goalie keeping LaBarbera away from the starting job is Cloutier, who missed most of the 2006-07 season because of a hip injury and is now set to open the season with Manchester (AHL). LaBarbera takes over the starting job, though prospect Jonathan Bernier will be a factor as well. LaBarbera is a former MVP in the AHL and has been waiting for his opportunity to arrive at the NHL level, so he could be a nice sleeper pick with the improving talent in front of him.
He will have to battle Mathieu Garon for the back up job this season, and it is unseen if the Kings will carry three goalies on their roster. If he loses out he will play in the AHL and wait for an injury or ineffectiveness to get his call up.
LaBarbera is going to push Mathieu Garon in camp for the number one goal tender spot in training camp, but will start as the back up in the early going. Look for him to get his shot if Garon falters along the way.