Free Agency Approaching


Oh man, two more days and the market bell will ring. The landscape has changed ever since the NHL instituted the salary cap. You could never accuse the Flyers of being cheap; they always threw dollars at top free agents. Unfortunately, those days are gone forever. So while Ilya Kovalchuk is the top name, there’s no chance he’ll be wearing orange and black any time soon. Of course, offense isn’t the biggest issue for the Flyers. Instead, for the 100th time in the last 20 years, we’re looking for a goalie.

I don’t really pay attention to the players that we draft or keep in the minors until I start hearing about someone being NHL-ready. Apparently, the Flyers drafted a young Russian goalie that’s going to be pretty good. His name is Sergei Bobrovsky, and we’ve alreadysigned him to a 3 year deal. He’s played the last few seasons in the KHL, for a terrible team, but still managed to put up good numbers. He’s 1-2 years away from being ready to take over. So with that info., should we still be looking for a top-notch goalie? Hell yes!!!! Michael Leighton blows, Brian Boucher has proven too inconsistent, and we have no idea what’s going on with Ray Emery. If we’d had a little bit better goaltending, we’d be the Stanley Cup champs right now!

The latest rumor is that San Jose is going to allow Evgeni Nabokov to walk. They’ve given the Flyersthe right to negotiate with him before July 1, so if we agree on a contract with him, they’ll ship us his rights. If he hits the market, then his price will rise, so we’re better off trying to get him while we can. He’s a huge upgrade over EVERYONE that we have, and if we can get him for the right price, I’d do it in a heartbeat. However, if things don’t work out, I’m ok with any of the following:

  • Marty Turco
  • Dan Ellis
  • Vesa Toskala

I know Turco and Nabokov are old, but I don’t care. They both win, a lot. And I don’t blame them for early playoff exits. They’re both so much better than what we have, that I’d take the risk and offer either one of them a 2-3 year deal. Benefit for them is that they can prove that they are still worthy, and they might get another nice contract elsewhere. Ellis has spent his career on a team that can’t give him any offensive support. He’s only 30, and who doesn’t want a solid goalie that’s in their prime? Toskala was awesome in San Jose, but couldn’t overtake Nabokov. He went to Toronto, and well, what can you expect in Toronto. He’s also 33, but he’s not as worn out at this age, and could prove to be a diamond in the rough.

The biggest question mark on the market is Jose Theodore. He was an MVP and Vezina winner, but has fallen off. He’s too streaky, and gives up a bit too many bad goals. I’m not sure I’d trust him too much. Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki are also out there. No way I’d take old blue eyes back. He’s great as a backup, but he can’t handle the starters role. Nitty was popular here, and I think he’s a very, very good goalie. But he’s got confidence issues. A bad streak and he falls apart. He’s too brittle for Philadelphia. There were also rumors that we were discussing a trade with Montreal for Carey Price, but we can forget that. Halak was traded to the Blues, so Price is definitely staying in Montreal.

Whatever we do, it has to be more than staying with what we have. If we wait for our prospects, it might be too late. How much more do Pronger or Timonen have left in them? Speaking of defense, the Hamhuis project is over. We couldn’t sign him, and shipped him away to Pittsburgh for a 3rd round pick in next years draft. So we’re back to square one: our line-up is exactly what we had at the end of the season. But change is on the horizon…

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