The Phoenix Coyotes will address their gaping vacancy at the goaltending position in a big way today by signing 38-year-old Curtis Joseph to a one-year deal that will allow him to battle Brian Boucher for the starting job.
As reported in the Tribune, discussions between the two sides began to heat up late last week, and the Coyotes have been zeroing in on the 15-year veteran ever since.
Sources said Coyotes general manager Mike Barnett and Joseph’s agent, Don Meehan, were working late into Tuesday night on the final touches of a deal that will pay Joseph a base salary of about $1 million with an incentive package based on games, wins and shutouts that could push the total toward $1.5 million.
Joseph, whose nickname is "Cujo," was believed to be asking for as much as $2.5 million since the lockout ended — but a burning desire to prove he can still play at an elite level and the chance to play for new Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky convinced him to adjust his base compensation package to a number that was palatable for Phoenix.
Joseph’s options are also limited with several teams recently having signed goaltenders to fill their needs.
Joseph, who has a career record of 396-289-90 with 43 shutouts and a 2.75 goalsagainst average, took the Toronto Maple Leafs to within a game of the Stanley Cup finals in 2002.
The next year, he signed a three-year, $24 million free agent deal with Detroit as a replacement for the retiring Dominik Hasek.
But ankle problems began to plague Joseph, who underwent surgery after the Red Wings were swept out of the 2003 playoffs by Anaheim. When Hasek came out of retirement for the 2003-04 season, Detroit was left with two high-priced goalies — neither of them healthy — and one uncomfortable situation. Joseph was waived twice during the season, then became the starter when Hasek was hurt, then injured his ankle twice more. He wound up 16-10-3 and the Red Wings were again bounced from the playoffs.
But sources say the Coyotes are convinced Joseph’s ankle problems are behind him and Joseph and Boucher — who is also on a one-year contract at similar money ($900,000) will go into training camp with an equal shot at the starting job.
The deal will be another popular move for Phoenix’s large contingent of Detroit fans, who have seen the Coyotes add four pieces from the Red Wings — right wing Brett Hull, center Boyd Devereaux, assistant coach Barry Smith and now Joseph — since the team last took the ice at Glendale Arena in April of 2004.
LOOSE PUCKS: With the Czech hockey federation agreeing to a new player transfer deal between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation on Tuesday, the Coyotes now have until Aug. 26 to sign first-round draft pick Martin Hanzal in order for him to join the organization this season.
Hanzal, a center from the Czech Republic, was the 17th pick in the 2005 draft. . . . The Coyotes’ pursuit of Alexander Mogilny ended Tuesday night when the winger signed a two-year deal with New Jersey.