If all of the indications are correct, the Flyers will be adding Ray Emery to their organization in the very near future. There has already been a fair amount of head scratching, but considering the position the Flyers find themselves in, adding Emery is a worthwhile move.
Jammed up against the salary cap, the Flyers cannot afford to give Martin Biron more than his $3.5 million salary of last season. Nor should they want to, as Biron has proven to be mediocre. Bringing him back would likely be settling for another first round exit.
Biron and fellow unrestricted netminder Antero Niittymaki have shown they are capable of getting a team to the playoffs. But the Philadelphia Flyers organization and its fans are not happy just to make the playoffs. With a talented young core, this team is ready to win now.
Unfortunately, the Flyers are not left with many attractive options in free agency, as Nikolai Khabibulin, Craig Anderson and Scott Clemmensen are the cream of the underwhelming crop.
A trade for a top netminder would cost them an arm and a leg and still might not fit under the cap. And with No. 1 goaltenders so few and far between, it would seem unlikely that a team would be willing to pull the trigger on such a deal anyway.
Speculation about Ray Emery started a few weeks ago and now seems on the verge of fruition. But while most don’t seem very keen on the idea, this is a move that makes sense and is a potential high-reward scenario for the Flyers.
Emery obviously has the talent. Just two years ago, Emery helped lead the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final. Two years ago. Not five years or ten years. He also posted stellar numbers this past year in Russia’s KHL.
This is not a formerly prominent goalie on the downswing of his career. Emery is still just 26 years old and trying desperately to capitalize on his full potential, a potential that has been damaged by erratic behavior and problems with his attitude.
Though his brief stint in Russia was not completely incident-free, the Flyers feel that Emery is committed enough to reign in his behavior and focus on team success beyond his own individual achievements.
The fact that he was willing to play in Russia shows that Emery is serious about the NHL. I’m not suggesting we nominate him for sainthood, as he did earn a good deal of money, but he ventured far from his comfort zone to prove that he was deserving of another chance at the big time. Give him credit for that at least.
Emery would not be a salary cap killer either because of the label that is attached to him. He can be had at a reasonable enough price, one that would look like a downright bargain if he were to play to his capability.
He would be a big question mark for a team entering a season with the kind of expectations and pressure the Flyers face. But they will have to roll the dice because playing it safe won’t get them very far.
Maybe Emery will get things straightened out. Maybe he won't. It's a fairly big risk, but one that could pay off in a large way for the Flyers.