The Pittsburgh Penguins made news on June 4 by trading for the rights of, and signing, goalie Tomas Vokoun of the Washington Capitals, according to TSN. This could indirectly provide a quality opportunity for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Pittsburgh's backup from last season, Brent Johnson, is a free agent this summer. With Vokoun as the backup for Marc-Andre Fleury, Johnson is all but guaranteed to leave the Penguins.
The Flyers' goaltending situation consists of being stuck with Ilya Bryzgalov for the next nine seasons, due to an essentially immovable nine-year, $51 million contract. Whether or not that is a good thing is a completely different argument, but the bottom line is that Philadelphia goaltending and this eccentric Russian netminder are united for the next several years.
Current Flyers backup Sergei Bobrovsky is a particularly intriguing trade asset for the Flyers. With Bobrovsky's contract set to expire after the 2012-13 season and no need for the Flyers to take on a $1.75 million cap hit for a backup, Bobrovsky should be traded.
He has no chance of being the starter in Philadelphia for the next nine seasons. Flyers founder Ed Snider is not going to pay Bryzgalov $51 million and have him not be used as the starter. Bobrovsky would either have to wait until Bryzgalov is gone or go to another team in order to be a starter.
Bobrovsky is one of the best backup goalies in the NHL and has too much potential to be wasted as a backup. It makes sense for both the goalie and the team for him to be moved.
What the Flyers can get for Bobrovsky is debatable, but the return is surely better than taking on an extra $1 million in salary for a player they would be better off without.
Johnson's salary over the past two seasons was a minuscule $600k, easily affordable for Philadelphia. The goalie is a career backup who is not only well-suited for the role, but for the city of Philadelphia as well.
Johnson spent the first four seasons after the 2005 lockout in Washington before playing in Pittsburgh for the last three seasons. The NHL franchise that sits between those two locations is none other than the Flyers. From a non-hockey standpoint, transitioning to Philadelphia would be the easiest geographical move.
For Flyers fans, Johnson might be the most appropriate netminder since Ray Emery filled the role in the early stages of the 2009-10 season.
Aside from Emery, Johnson might be the toughest goalie in the NHL. Last season he broke Rick DiPietro's face (or, more technically, the orbital bone) with one punch. Less than two weeks later, he was part of the most wild hockey brawl in several years, taking on skater Micheal Haley.
While stopping the puck is always a priority, Philadelphia enjoys a player with Johnson's personality.
The moves make sense for all parties involved: the Flyers, Bobrovsky and Johnson. Albeit, it's only a minor move in the scope of a Flyers offseason that will consist of dealing with free agents Jaromir Jagr, Matt Carle and Jake Voracek but an opportunity to move forward nonetheless.
Jason Sapunka is a Featured Columnist for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is available on Twitter for updates, commentary and analysis.
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