Emery In, Biron Out as Revolving Door of Goalies Continues

New Flyers goalie Ray Emery with Jeff Carter

New Flyers goalie Ray Emery with Jeff Carter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Flyers announced yesterday their intention to sign free agent goalie Ray Emery to a one year contract on July 1.  Speculated for several weeks, the move means that Marty Biron’s days as a Flyer have come to an end.  Evidently, Biron was seeking more money in contract talks than the Flyers were willing to pay, and will look to sign elsewhere after July 1.  Emery’s signing for $1.5 million per season is a significant savings for the Flyers, as Biron was making $3 million per season as was reportedly asking for a long-term deal worth around $4 million per season.  The Flyers believe that they are getting a goalie of about the same level as Biron for much less money. 

This is a risk for the Flyers because Emery had difficulties in Ottawa, fighting with teammates and being late to practices as well as off-ice incidents.  As a result, the Senators released him during the 2007-08 season and he played last year in Russia.  Although he took the Senators to the Cup finals in 2006-07, his antics became a distraction and not something the Senators wanted to continue to tolerate.  The Flyers are gambling that Emery has put the nonsense behind him and has matured.  Time will tell.  If he has grown up, the Flyers may have made a good deal. His numbers are about the same as Biron’s and his fiery demeanor (if channeled correctly) could light a fire under this laid back Flyers team.  I am sorry to see Biron go, he played well in the playoffs last year and even this season, and I was hoping he would be given another couple years with this team.  Having met him on numerous occasions, he was always approachable and friendly, even in the locker room after a loss.  Hopefully, he’ll find a good situation wherever he ends up (back in Buffalo?).

As for the Flyers, the revolving door of goalies continues.  It’s definitely not easy to find a franchise goalie capable of taking a team to the Stanley Cup. Bernie Parent did it, Pelle Lindbergh probably would have done it had he not died tragically, and Ron Hextall almost did it.  Not since Hextall have the Flyers had a stellar netminder.  They have not had much success in drafting and grooming goalies. Let’s take a look at their recent goalie draft history up to 2005 so as to allow time for goalie development:

Goalie Drafted

Year

Round

Number Overall

Dominic Roussell

1988

3

63

Tommy Soderstrom

1990

11

214

Neil Little

1991

11

226

Yanick Degrace

1991

5

194

Kirk Daubenspeck

1992

7

151

Tripp Tracey

1993

9

218

Johan Hedberg

1994

9

218

Brian Boucher

1995

1

22

Per-Ragnar Bergkvist

1996

5

124

Jean-Marc Pelletier

1997

2

30

Antero Niitymakki

1998

6

168

Cam Ondrik

1998

7

175

Maxime Ouellet

1999

1

22

Roman Cechmanek

2000

6

171

Roman Malek

2001

5

158

Bernd Bruckler

2001

5

150

Dov Grumet-Morris

2002

5

161

Ville Hostikka

2003

6

193

Rejean Beauchemin

2003

6

191

David Tremblay

2003

5

140

Martin Houle

2004

8

232

Jeremy Duchesne

2005

4

119

Recognize many of those names?  In fact, of the 22 goalies the Flyers drafted between 1988 and 2005, only five have had substantial playing time with the Flyers: Antero Niitymakki, Roman Cechmanek, Brian Boucher, Tommy Soderstrom, and Dominic Roussell. None of them emerged as a stellar goaltender and only three – Niitymakki, Boucher, and Johan Hedberg (now with Atlanta) – are still in the NHL.  Now, goal is a position that is difficult to project whether a player will pan out and the Flyers have rarely drafted at the top during those years so nabbing a Fleury with a top pick was not really possible. However, there is a fair amount of frustration with the Flyers’ ongoing difficulty in goal that maybe some real attention to that position, either via the draft or trades, is called for. 

In the meantime, with the money they’re saving with Geiko, I mean, Emery, the Flyers should be able to sign a top defenseman or two (Bouwmeester?) that will provide solid play in their own zone – clearing pucks, moving the puck out, covering in front – that will cut down on shots allowed and perhaps make having a stellar netminder not quite as necessary.  Look at Detroit.

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