I am going to approach this by looking at GAA, SV%, and Cap Hit. I am hoping to determine a reasonable expectation for backup goalies that can then be applied to the Predators and Carter Hutton. Going into this, I had no clue what I would find as my conclusions and was completely open minded. I think I have also managed to keep it fairly simple.
I looked at goalies that had played 17 games or more this season. I chose this number because the top games played from any goalie was 65. Therefore, 82-65=17. A season long backup goalie would play 17 or more games in this season. This means we happen to have 65 goalies contributing to the evaluation.
Top GAA: Talbot at 1.64 in 21 games. Top that played 41+ games: Schneider 1.97 in 45 games
10th: Bishop 2.23
20th: Grubauer 2.38
30th: Justin Peters at 2.50.
40th: Ramo 2.65
50th: Holtby 2.85
60th: Clemmensen 3.09
65th: Ellis 3.62
Average GAA: 2.57
Top SV%: Talbot at .941 in 21 games. Top that played 41+ games: Rask .930 in 58 games.
10th: Chad Johnson .925
20th: Thomas Greiss .920
30th: Mike Smith: .915
40th: Hiller .911
50th: Nabokov .905
60th: Nilsson .896
65th: Ellis .879
Average SV%: .913
Top Cap Hit: Rinne and Rask at $7,000,000
10th: Howard $5,291,667
20th: Tim Thomas $3,750,000
30th: Harding $1,900,000
40th: Gustavsson $1,500,000
50th: Khudobin $800,000
60th: Talbot $562,500
65th: Zatkoff and Peters $537,500
Average Cap Hit: $2,601,100
Let's make 2 assumptions and speculate:
1) Every goalie would hit their same GAA and SV% no matter if they play 1 game or all 82 games and no matter what team he played for.
2) Every team is able to perfectly order from top to bottom the best and worst goalies.
Under those 2 assumptions, we can speculate the best backup goalie would have a 2.51 GAA, .915% SV%, and 1,850,000 Cap Hit. (31st best goalie in each category)
Obviously those are crazy assumptions. However, do I think this is a reasonable expectation for a backup goalie?
Yes I do. If you stop and think about these numbers compared to a pretty good starter it makes sense. Ideally, you want better, but everyone always wants better. Also, some teams do have a backup goalie that is better than this, but that usually is because they successfully drafted someone that should actually be another starter and probably will be one day.
Now, let's briefly focus on the Cap Hit (64.3 was ceiling this year). Some Numbers.
1) This number is a bit rough, but the 30 teams as a whole averaged spending $5,531,885.
2) Only 3 teams used less than $4 million. Edmonton, Philadelphia, Washington. These don't surprise me.
3) 6 spent $7 million or more.
4) 12 spent $6 million or more.
5) Only 1 went over $8 million. NJ at $8.5 million.
This tells us most teams think spending between 6% and 11% of the Cap on goalies is where you should be.
Now, I'm going to apply all of the above stats and cap information to the Nashville Predator situation and give my view of it.
1) Nashville has Rinne locked up at $7 million.
2) Hutton is FA and we need to determine a backup.
4) Last 21 games played by Hutton..Jan-Apr
13 W, 5 L, 2 OTL, GAA 2.2765, .9171 SV%
3) Next year's cap is $71,100,000
Financially, if Nashville spent 11% (Spent 11.8% last year) of the cap on goalies they would then have $821,000 they could spend on their backup next season. Due to how much the Predators have spent on Rinne (and a need for more forward talent), they have pretty much forced themselves to rely heavily on Rinne and a cheap, risky backup like Hutton was this year.
There are 5 goalies that will be UFA's this summer that made $821,000 or less and had a SV% of .91 or higher. Peters, Hutton, C Johnson, Montoya, and Greiss. All of these are between 28 and 31 years old. So, there are some options.
Here's the question though, how many of those do you think will take $821,000 or less? I can't really say on the goalies other than Hutton. As for Hutton there are 2 reasons to think his number might can stay close to that.
1) That Hutton's SV% got into that range due to a hot ending.
2) Hutton has the lowest SV% of the 5 at .910, the others are .919, .925, .920, and .920.
When I stop and look at how Hutton finished and the Predators financial situation at the goalie position, I am left believing Hutton should be resigned and given the chance to be the backup. I'd probably target a 2 year deal of about $1 million per year. This gives him time to prove it wasn't a flashy quarter season without exposing the Predators to too much risk while still giving him some financial security. Of course, if he does prove he can be that good we would likely lose him after 2 years to someone that has more to spend on a backup goalie.