For Philadelphia Flyers fans, each and every year is filled with spectacular rumors of trades, free agent acquisitions, and the like. Some hold water, most do not. Thus is life in a sports town filled with spiritually devoted zealots as fans and a brazen media that perpetuates the cycle of rampant speculation.
After a disappointing season capped off with a stretch run stumble and first round playoff exit, key players becoming free agents, and a tight salary cap situation, this offseason looks to be just as "gossipy" as any in recent memory.
The new star of this weekly reality show is Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo. Luongo is set to become a free agent after the 2009-10 season, and Canucks GM Mike Gillis has expressed an interest in exploring trading Luongo in fear of losing him for nothing (see Panthers and Jay Bouwmeester).
The Canucks are in fear of not being able to re-sign their star first line players Daniel and Henrik Sedin, whom are unrestricted free agents July 1, in part because of Luongo's $7.5 million salary next year, as well as the possibility of a shrinking salary cap.
Tough choice for Gillis: Lose pretty much your entire first line for nothing, or lose your goalie and get back some valuable pieces in return.
Among the pieces rumored are center Danny Briere, winger Joffrey Lupul, and former second overall pick James van Riemsdyk. Adding potentially three "top six" forwards to a team is something that any GM would contemplate, especially for a Canuck team that ranked a respectable 11th in the league in goals per game but faces the possibility of losing Mats Sundin to "retirement."
The Flyers have been in a desperate search for a goaltender since the days of Bernie Parent. Ron Hextall had flashes of brilliance but never was able to put it together after a magical rookie season in 1986-1987. Names like Soderstrom, Vanbiesbrouck, Cechmanek, Boucher, Esche, and Biron are just a few that have gone through the revolving door.
For Flyers fans, I sincerely hope this offseason is more like Extreme Makeover: The Goalie Edition and not Punk'd.