NEW YORK – The Philadelphia Flyers need a goaltender. The trouble is finding one that needs Philadelphia.
It’s not an easy place to play, even for those netminders that aren’t complete head cases like Ilya Bryzgalov. It take consistency and mental toughness; and if you’ve done well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before, that’d help.
Here’s a look at what we believe is the field for the Flyers, who could make a deal as early as the NHL Draft this Sunday, finding someone to share time with or start over Steve Mason:
Roberto Luongo (Cap Hit: $5,333,333 through 2022)
For my money, this is the best choice for what the Flyers want and need: a veteran netminder with starter and playoff experience; someone that is used to the media spotlight; and someone has played with the weight of both a franchise and nation on his shoulders. From the sound of things, they’re only going to go down this road if the Canucks buy him out, which won’t necessarily happen. But Luongo on the Flyers make sense, even if it's just from a "the sick irony of Luongo winning in the toughest place in the NHL for a goalie to play" perspective.
Ryan Miller (Cap Hit: $6,250,000, through 2014)
Miller’s going to be traded this summer; it’s just a matter of where. The Flyers could be an attractive stop for him in the short term or in the long term, although one wonders how Miller’s emo-pressers after games would sync with the ravenous Philly media. His numbers remain strong, and his work rate would give Steve Mason around 20 starts. More from Flyers Faithful.
Mike Smith (Cap Hit: UFA)
Smith’s numbers are ridiculous. So were Bryzgalov’s in Phoenix. Would the Flyers go down that road again? No question Smith isn’t the space case that Bryz was, but he’s still a goalie that was average at best before joining Dave Tippett’s system and Sean Burke’s tutelage. As a free agent, the Flyers wouldn’t have to surrender anything off the roster for him.
Ray Emery (UFA)
Assistant coach John Paddock has a strong relationship with Emery going back to their Ottawa days, and he’s familiar with the organization. His health and off-ice behavior appear sorted out, and his run with the Chicago Blackhawks was extraordinary: 17-1-0 last season! Broad Street Hockey has a solid breakdown of his potential return to Philly. Keep an eye on this one.
Jaroslav Halak ($3,750,000, UFA)
Halak has one more year left on his deal with a $4.5 million base salary. That plus the emergence of Jake Allen might have him on the block for the St. Louis Blues. CSN Philly writes that the Flyers have kicked the tires on the 28-year-old.
Evgeni Nabokov (UFA)
Behind a New York Islanders defense that wasn’t exactly top-o’-the-league, Nabby was a solid if not spectacular last line of defense. He’s a goalie that gives you a consistent chance to win the regular season … but if this is about the postseason, Nabokov is notorious for giving up a key goal or losing a key game. He turns 38 on July 25. A total stop-gap signing if it happens.
Jose Theodore (UFA)
His numbers were a horror show last season for the Florida Panthers, but he would be a cheap veteran option for the Flyers that did show signs of a return to form in 2011-12. Injuries are a concern.
The Wild Card
Tim Thomas (UFA)
Thomas as coveted by the Flyers before we won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe for the Boston Bruins in 2011. Randy Miller reported that Thomas wants to play for the Flyers.
Is the feeling still mutual? He’s been in a bunker in Colorado for the last year. His relationship with fans and media has dramatically changed since he decided to get political on his Facebook page. What shape is he in? Can he pick up where he left off? There are more questions than answers, including the most important one: If Tim Thomas is still Tim Thomas, could the Flyers’ goaltending issues be resolved?