I've said it before and I will say it again. The Flyers' goaltending this past playoffs was substandard, almost to the point of being downright atrocious.
It is widely acknowledged that the Flyers need to improve their goaltending before next season, and it is consequently widely expected that GM Paul Holmgren will take the necessary steps to do so.
There are a myriad of avenues that Holmgren could take in order to acquire a goaltender, but the consensus is that he should look to acquire one of Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes or Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers in the upcoming free agency period.
Both are proven NHL goaltenders and both will be unrestricted free agents this offseason.
My opinion is that Holmgren should try to acquire the better goaltender, regardless of age. Of course, salary cap hit and contract length would need to be taken into consideration, but capability to deliver a Stanley Cup should be the bottom line.
But which goaltender is actually more capable?
Ideally, this comparison would be based on their performances during recent playoff series.
However, in this case, such a comparison would be redundant, as Vokoun is yet to see any playoff action during his tenure with the Panthers, and Bryzgalov has only played 11 playoff games with the Coyotes, all of which have been against the Detroit Red Wings.
Whilst Bryzgalov has poor playoff statistics (this season he went 0-4 with a 4.36 GAA and a .879 Sv%), this can be attributed to the poor playoff performance of the entire Coyotes team as opposed to Bryzgalov himself.
I think a fair comparison between the two involves looking at their last three seasons. This is a sufficient time period to compare consistency, whilst remaining recent and therefore relevant.
In the statistics provided below, I have added a 'Team Finished' column in order to indicate how well the team in front of the goaltender performed.
2010-11 Regular Season
2009-10 Regular Season
Who should the Flyers aim to acquire?
2008-09 Regular Season
These statistics show two noticeable trends. The first, is that Tomas Vokoun is consistent, whether his team is a cellar-dweller or a mid-range potential contender. The second is that Ilya Bryzgalov's statistics are a mere shadow of Tomas Vokoun's when he is the goaltender for a cellar-dweller.
The implication of these trends is that Tomas Vokoun is likely to be more capable of being able to help the Flyers to make a deep playoff run. It would be unreasonable to suggest that his statistics would get worse if he was acquired by the Flyers, and it is probable that they would improve significantly.
This implication, combined with the fact that Bryzgalov has only been seen to be mediocre in the playoffs, suggests Vokoun should be Holmgren's first preference. Many will argue that Vokoun is aging and that Bryzgalov will provide great goaltending for a long time.
I, however, believe that Bob will eventually develop into an elite goaltender, which makes the need to acquire a long term number one redundant. Plus, because of his age, I think Vokoun will command a lower salary than Bryzgalov.
Paul Holmgren should sign Tomas Vokoun to a two-year deal (three years maximum).
Agree/Disagree? Let me know. Thanks for reading.