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Goalie, going ... gone?

Now that Tommy Salo is a member of the Colorado Avalanche, keep an eye out for the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils to shore up their goaltending, as well.

If the Leafs lose Ed Belfour or the Devils lose Martin Brodeur, the duties fall to Trevor Kidd and Corey Schwab, who have been battling injuries. While teams seldom have to turn to their third goalie in the playoffs, in this case, with this much on the line, acquiring a veteran with postseason experience wouldn't be a bad idea.

Though Colorado has a terrific young goalie in Philippe Sauve, he can't be expected to step in for David Aebischer if he falters. Aebischer has been extremely good in his first tour of duty as a No. 1 netminder, but he lacks experience in a seven-game series.

It looked as if Salo was going to be traded several weeks ago, but an injury got in the way. He hasn't gotten too far in the playoffs in his career, compiling a record of 5-16 with a 2.56 goals-against average in 21 games, but he's a solid insurance policy.

It doesn't look as though the Vancouver Canucks are going to make a move in net. But as good as Dan Cloutier has been in his last three regular seasons, he has not posted good enough numbers and key wins in the postseason. Johan Hedberg has had a very successful run in the playoffs and has the charisma to give this team a chance.

So let's get back to some veteran backups who could be moved and could help.

Arturs Irbe is back after playing in the minors for over a year. His name keeps popping up as a potential backup in Colorado. He has another year on his contract, so if he is moved, the Carolina Hurricanes likely will have to pick up a portion of his salary. It's important that Irbe understands and accepts his new role of a backup and mentor. He has had trouble with that in the past, as he is a very proud person and athlete.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks goalie Martin Gerber has strong fundamentals and quick lateral movement to go along with the ability to carry a team -- but again, he has no experience. But if a team that's out of the playoffs is looking for a goalie who can work with a young up-and-comer -- perhaps Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury -- Gerber would fit nicely.

Then there is Steve Shields, who's been out of sight and out of mind working behind Florida Panthers workhorse Roberto Luongo night after night. His likability and ability to fit in a locker room is the key. Dominik Hasek, Mike Vernon and now Luongo have all said he's a perfect partner, which is half the battle on a successful team. He is also the only available goalie who has won two Game 7s in his career. While playing with the Buffalo Sabres in 1997, he relieved an injured Hasek and beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in overtime of the conference quarterfinals. He earned another first-round win three years later as a member of the San Jose Sharks when he beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in Game 7. So not only is he a good teammate, he has experience. Plus, he is an unrestricted free agent, so it shouldn't cost much to acquire him. Panthers GM Rick Dudley could re-sign him in the offseason -- or when the next season begins.

Washington Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig sat on the bench Monday and remains in limbo. Now that they've moved the contracts of Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander, GM George McPhee said he doesn't have to move Kolzig. But if the team is going to go through a long rebuilding process, then Kolzig wants to be moved. The key in acquiring Kolzig is that he's owed nearly $13 million over the next two years.

I'd be very surprised if Kolzig ended up in Colorado. From what I heard Monday afternoon, there wasn't any thought of bringing him to Denver.

I love the way Kolzig has played since the middle of January. His game is all about trust in his abilities and positioning, and he has both right now. He thought on Jan. 25, the night he was supposed to play goal for Washington against Philadelphia but was scratched at the last minute, that he had been traded to the Flyers. Since then, he has only worried about the things he can control, and that is stopping the puck. I anticipate he remains a Capital.

So let's get to this week's top five playoff-bound goalies:



Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks, is a hockey analyst for ESPN. His goalie rankings appear every other week in Net Effect.