Reports are surfacing that the Philadelphia Flyers and JP Barry, the agent of former Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery, are discussing Emery's possible return to the NHL after a one year hiatus in the Russian KHL.
After a tumultous tenure in Ottawa, filled with on-ice mediocrity and off-ice problems, Emery was placed on waivers and virtually exiled to Russia to prove he could be a professional.
Emery's talent is unquestioned as exhibited in Ottawa's run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 where he racked up 33 wins with a 2.47 GAA and .918 save percentage. It's his discipline, attitude and off-ice antics that are the concern.
The Flyers currently do not have an NHL goalie under contract. Last seasons starter Martin Biron and perennial backup Anterro Nittymaki are both unrestricted free agents. Both are expected to demand multi-year deals.
An unrelenting opinion echoed on the airwaves of Philadelphia sports talk radio and often printed in local papers is that Biron is not the guy to lead the orange and black to their first Cup in 34 years. One has to wonder if the front office shares the same view.
Nittymaki will attempt to compete for a starting job elsewhere, something he could never accomplish in the City of Brotherly Love.
With a mega-list of free agent goaltenders set to hit the open market in 2010 the Flyers may need a 1 year stop gap in net if GM Paul Holmgren is unable to make a trade for ATLs Kari Lehtonen or ANAs JS Gigeure.
Emery would surely command a lower salary than the $2.75 million he banked in 07/08, his last NHL action.
Emery could join a young Eastern Conference power at a reasonable price on a 1 year deal and attempt to prove he is a #1 NHL goalie and has put his anger and maturity issues to bed. Or he can continue to waste away in the inferior KHL with other NHL has-beens.
As for the Flyers it may be a risk worth taking as a last resort. With a veteran netminder on hand as a backup, the Flyers could get a cheap Goalie with something to prove. If he performs like he did in Ottawa's impressive run to the Cup in 07/08 the Flyers will be a force. If he melts down and fights the team trainer or a motorist on the way to the rink sick Dan Carcillo on him, waive him and hand the reigns to your veteran backup.
Oh, and Ray, I wouldn't suggest picking fights with motorists in Philly. It's a little different than Ottawa.