There is a lot to like about the Flyers' signing of unrestricted free agent goaltender Ray Emery yesterday. In tandem with Steve Mason, the team may not have elite goaltending on paper but a split-time arrangement and healthy competition could work between two players who want to be here and feel like they still have something to prove.
You can't argue with the price tag or the one-year length of the two goalies' contracts. Emery's deal carries a $1.65 million cap hit, while Mason's one-year extension cost $1.5 million. Considering that the Flyers got a .900 save percentage last year out of Ilya Bryzgalov at a $5.67 million cost on the salary cap, the team has a good chance at getting more bang for their buck from the two goalies at a combined $3.15 million.
Emery has always been a battler in net who never gives up on a play. He's matured a lot off the ice, as well as on, while dealing with adversity in his career. The career-threatening hip injury he suffered during his first stint with the Flyers forced him to make adjustments to his goaltending style. He lost some of his former side-to-side quickness and became more of a positional, block-the-puck sort of netminder.
I do have some concerns that the current-day Emery could be prone to some of the same types of goals that plagued Bryzgalov -- recoveries on rebounds, adjusting to partial deflections up high in the zone, going post-to-post in a hurry. The Flyers' team defense is still going to give up a lot of scoring chances. However, Emery today is a smarter goaltender than he was as a young player in Ottawa who relied mostly on his athleticism. As a more mature player, he stays in better control of his angles and is less likely to make errors of over-aggression.
Yesterday, the Flyers also signed goaltender Yann Danis to a two-way contract. Danis will play in the AHL for the Adirondack Phantoms. He can also be a serviceable NHL backup in case of injury to Emery or Mason. The Danis signing pushes second-year pro Cal Heeter down a spot on the call-up chart (a necessity because he is not NHL-ready at this point) and could also result in Carsen Chubak being loaned to an ECHL team.
What's next for the Flyers? The team reportedly has terms agreed upon with Simon Gagne but they first need to clear out salary cap space and eliminate some the roster logjam on defense. The Andrew Ference signing by Edmonton would suggest that the potential Braydon Coburn deal is dead. However, one of Andrej Meszaros, Coburn or Nicklas Grossmann is still likely the one to get traded to get the Flyers back under the cap ceiling prior to the club being able to place Chris Pronger on long-term injured reserve for next season.
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