It'd been speculated and discussed since the quick end to the Flyers postseason... Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had an interest in possibly acquiring banished goalie Ray Emery, who was playing in Russia after being unable to catch on in the NHL. Now, it appears Holmgren has put the pieces in place to do just that.
According to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly, the Flyers are expected to sign Emery
to be their #1 goalie next season. Homer declined to confirm the story, but Panotch sounds pretty confident in its legitimacy. [Update: Quote from Paul Holmgren: “We have internal discussions about many players and their potential availability, including Ray Emery. I have spoken to his agent a few times about Ray as well. Any further speculation about this would be very premature.”]
Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki are both set to become free agents, with at least Biron likely to be able to get a decent raise on the open market. Biron had flashes of brilliance and was a great teammate, but he did not prove to be capable of backstopping the Flyers to a Cup Final, and the cap-strapped team ran into considerable salary limitations last season. Given that Emery was not signed by another team after Ottawa dropped him, his price should be lower than that of Biron.
We've already been over Emery's history
, which rivals that of Ron Hextall behind the mask, and far exceeds it off the ice. Many of us believe the Flyers have a bulls-eye on them from officials and even the league discipliners. Perhaps it's just homerist paranoia, but Emery isn't likely to help in that regard. Where he may improve things is between the pipes. He's talented, and he previously carried the Senators to the finals in 2007. Maybe Emery's sabbatical in Russia was the wakeup call he needed to show him that his stardom and success could end at a moment's notice. Let's hope so. This is a significant gamble for the Flyers to take, but realistically, the acquisition of just about any keeper is. The majority are unpredictable, volatile, and streaky. At least we know that Emery has solid skills, and likely an abundance of motivation to prove himself.
The signing isn't set in stone yet, as any such deal can't be consummated until after July 1. But barring a significant breach in the talks, it looks like Ray Emery is the new man in Orange & Black. We'll be interested to hear your thoughts. We're ready to shelve our skepticism of a player with questionable character (even for the NHL) and initially support anyone who the team deems worthy of the crest, giving him a chance to earn it or lose it.
Let's see what ya got, Ray.