Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do The Flyers Never learn?

1) For almost the past 20+ years (since Ron Hextal was dealt) the Flyers have struggled to find a reliable starting goalie. Sure, many have had excellent regular season numbers, only to crumble once the post season commences. We have seen countless goalies come and go. A rough (albeit incomplete list) of goalies we could recall NOT getting it done for the Flyers (despite having pretty dam good teams) over the last 20 or so years . Brian Boucher, Marty Biron, Sean Burke, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche, Antero Niittymaki, Dominic Roussel, Garth Snow, Tommy Soderstrom, John Vanbiesbrouck, Ken Wregget.

2) Not all the Flyer teams associated with these goalies were Cup contenders, but more often than not, the biggest factor in these teams failing in the post season was in net. With that in mind we come to today. Where we are hearing from several sources (both published and from around the league) that the Flyers are close to signing free agent goalie Ray Emery. Yes, this Ray Emery. Its not like this youtube video is from the KHL is an old incident. It happened this past season. Meaning that for all intents and purposes Emery is NOT any different than the nut job he was when the Senators bought his contract out a year ago.

3) Its not that we don't like watching Ray play. The below clips are but two reasons why we'd LOVE to have him back in the NHL., and However if we were a GM of an NHL team we wouldn't touch this guy with a Chara sized twig. He is totally unstable to say the least. In fact it wasn't all that long ago that he was involved in a traffic incident in Ontario. One scout who we talk to regularly tells us that "Ray has good tools, but his approach and all the nonsense he brings making him a potential locker room cancer makes him a big risk". We have to say we concur.

4) Emery spent last season in the Russian KHL, where he played well with a 22-8-0 record with a 2.12 GAA. (Despite the problem with the team's trainer) After an early playoff exit and a up and down season from Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki, (who are both unrestricted free agents) GM Paul Holmgren should be looking for the best goaltender available. Is that Ray Emery? While Emery played his best hockey in 2007 helping the Senators to the Cup finals, he returned to form in 2008, which of course made his behavior off the ice even more noticeable, forcing Ottawa to buy him out of his contract. Perhaps the other options are less palitable for the Flyers, but in our opinion this is a huge gamble by the Flyers, and we believe that they will again be a strong team(except between the pipes). Do The Flyers Never learn?


Peter said...

At first glance any team is crazy to go after Emery. He is just so unpredicatble off the ice. The problem is what other UFA goaltender is there out there worth going after?

Sure they may be more stable off the ice, but other than Khabby none have any deep playoff experience.

Who would you recommend?

The Puck Stops Here said...

The Flyers problem is that they are very close to the salary cap. Depending on exact cap numbers, it looks like this team will have around $3 million to spend on both goalies put together.

What do you do in that situation? You have a strong playoff team except for a hole in goal and you have little resources to offer to solving the problem. The logical thing to do is to take a risk. Find somebody who will work relatively cheap who has an upside (and likely has a downside as well). If things work out, Ray Emery could outplay his contract by a bigger margin than any other goalie in the NHL next year - of course things may not work out.

Given the salary cap situation the Flyers have to take a gamble. Emery is a gamble. He might be a big failure, but how many otgher choices do they have? Guys like Khabibulin will cost a lot more money than the Flyers have to offer.


1) Peter/Puck: Thanks for your question. We agree that the Flyers have some difficult choices to make. True they ARE up against the salary cap and have limited option IF finding a UFA goalie is the route they are set to pursue
2) In our opinion(and most hockey observers) goal is the most important position. To short change this vital position lends itself to where the Flyers end up each season. (With a solid team in every respect except in net)
3) Therefore if we were in Paul Holmgren's position we'd peruse 'Plan B' and look to make a deal. Yes, it could possibly weaken them in one area, but to get quality you have to trade quality. The next question is who might be available?
1-JS Giguere: His 6 mil cap hit would be tough, but not impossible to fit in.
2- Jaroslav Halak. The Habs might want to deal one of their two young tenders. Its debatable if Halak would be an immediate upgrade over Biron. Certainly a cheap option.
3- Dan Ellis. With the emergence of Rinne Ellis would be expandable and cheap at 1.75 mil.
4- Ilya Bryzgalov- Phoenix wasn't enamored with the Russian and would probably deal him for a draft pick, but the Flyers would have to unload some salary to fit his 4.5 mil cap hit
4) Those are just a very brief list. Anything can happen IF the Flyers attempt to do so. Will Holmgren do what his predecessors haven't? Actually try to improve their goalie position.

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