Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter
With the news of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray Emery’s abdominal injury hitting the airways last night, many fans started to talk about which goalie the Flyers should be going after.
The Flyers employ two goaltenders with their AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms—Johan Backlund, who has posted a record of 6-8 with a 2.81 GAA and a .903 SV%, and little known Nicola Riopel, who has a record of 3-5 with a 3.43 GAA and a .891 SV%.
Clearly, neither goaltender is ready to make the jump to the NHL, which brings us back to the Flyers need to add another goalie to the mix. Too bad the Flyers gave up on Antero Nittymaki, who has posted a 13-6-4 record with a 2.24 GAA and a .927 SV% with the Tampa Bay Lightning; sorry, I digress!
The issue facing the Flyers is, with the standings so close, there are very few goaltenders available to them, the pickings will be slim. And, in all likelihood, the Flyers are going to have to pay market price for a goalie, which, by all accounts, will not be cheap.
The Nashville Predators have Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis in the fold. After tough starts, Both Ellis and Rinne look to be back on their games. Both goaltenders have very similar numbers and, by all accounts, the Preds are not likely to give up either one of them.
Another team that is flush with goaltenders is the New York Islanders. Free agent signee Dwayne Roloson has a record of 9-3-5 and is not going anywhere. Former Flyers goaltender Martin Biron is also in the loop and, given his 2-8-2 record, may be available. What the Islanders would want back in return is anyone’s guess, but given their penchant for hoarding draft pick’s, the Flyers second rounder might just get it done.
But, is Marty Biron the answer? He certainly wasn’t last season!
Another option may exist in Montreal where the Canadiens employ Carey Price, who, after a tough start to the season, looks to be back on track, and Jaroslav Halak, who many suspect is ready to assume a bigger role with another team. Halak has a record of 5-4 with a 2.99 GAA and a .896 SV%, not great numbers, but certainly good enough to off-set the loss of Emery.
Montreal is in need of some grit and another defenseman. With that in mind, the Flyers can expect the Canadiens to inquire about defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, forward Darroll Powe, or a top prospect or two. This would seem to be the most viable option for the Flyers, one that makes sense for both teams, yet I am unsure if the Canadiens are willing to put all their money on Price yet.
The Atlanta Thrashers look to have an abundance of goaltenders, but it’s very unlikely they would part with either Johan Hedberg or Ondrej Pavelec, who are a combined 15-9-3 with the Thrashers this season.
Atlanta’s other goaltender, Kari Lehtonen, has been out all season recovering from a second bout of back surgery to repair a herniated disk and is not expected back until the first week of January at the earliest. Clearly, Lehtonen would need a significant conditioning stint before he could be effective as an NHL starter, so acquiring him is not a viable option either.
Considering his massive salary, acquiring Anaheim Ducks goaltender J.S. Giguere is a pipe dream and thinking the Washington Capitals would ship the likes of Jose Theodore over to the Flyers to help an Eastern Conference rival is foolish. The Detroit Red Wings are not about to give up on Chris Osgood, Given the Leafs injury woes in net, Vesa Toskala is not moving from Toronto and, despite their current woes, the Carolina Hurricanes are not entertaining moving the likes of goaltender Cam Ward.
The only other two options I can see are the Vancouver Canucks Andrew Raycroft and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mike Smith. Neither goalie instills a lot of confidence, neither one has played well when called upon to be a number one goaltender.
The only other option would be to make a call to former Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez and coax him back to the NHL. Even Fernandez, who went a respectable 16-8-3 last season with a 2.59 GAA and a .910 SV%, is a long shot to have an impact on the Flyers immediate fortunes as he was unsigned over the summer and is yet to play an NHL game this season. By all accounts, the 35-year-old Fernandez, would need at least 2-3 weeks to get game ready.
Yes Flyers fans, to coin a phrase, “you be (censored)”. There’s not much help to be had and, given the talent that is available, I am not so sure any of the candidates are any better than the Flyers current option, Brian Boucher.
Yes, the Flyers need to be prepared for the unthinkable (Boucher getting injured) but, given their options, shoring up the Flyers goaltending will not be an easy task.
Until next time,