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The Flyers' New Starting Goaltender Is...

It's the officially the offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers, which means two things:

1. The team didn't win the Cup (again).
2. The team needs to sign a better goaltender.

While many fans are quick to leave Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher out to dry after this year's disappointing playoff run, it still isn't clear that picking up a bona fide netminder will solve the Flyers' troubles.

TCL's Matt Brigidi posted a very interesting article earlier today that discussed how time-on-ice averages might have been an early indicator of the club's inevitable demise. According to Brigidi, trading a player like Mike Richards or Jeff Carter for a new goaltender would be a very costly overreaction by the front office.

That said, many fans would love to see a fresh face between the pipes for the Flyers next season. On The Checking Line's Flyers Facebook page, over 200 fans responded to our "Who should be the Flyers starting goaltender next year?" poll. Bobrovsky and Ilya Bryzgalov picked up the vast majority of the votes; Bryzgalov earned a slight edge.

As some have pointed out, Bryzgalov wouldn't come cheap, which is why Tomas Vokoun might be a better option if the Flyers decided to pursue a free agent goaltender this summer.

Keep in mind, I am in no way saying that the Flyers have shown interest in these players, nor is there even a large possibility that the club signs or trades for one of them. This guide is simply a reference for fans.

First, some of the names that have been thrown into the rumor pool:

Age Career Wins Career GAA Career SV% 2010-11 Cap Hit Contract Details
Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX)
30
156
2.53
0.916
$4.25 mil/year
UFA
Tomas Vokoun (FLA)
34
262
2.56
0.917
$5.70 mil/year
UFA
Niklas Backstrom (MIN)
33
141
2.42
0.917
$6.00 mil/year
Two Years Left (UFA)
Jimmy Howard (DET)
27
75
2.53
0.916
$717 K/year
Two Years Left* (UFA)
Cory Schneider (VAN)
25
18
2.53
0.919
$900 K/year
One Year Left (RFA)
Jonathan Bernier (LAK)
22
15
2.56
0.911
$843 K/year
Two Years Left** (RFA)
Anders Lindback (NAS)
23
11
2.60
0.915
$875 K/year
One Year Left (RFA)
Antero Niittymaki (SJS)
30
95
2.95
0.902
$2.00 mil/year
One Year Left (UFA)
Dwayne Roloson (TBL)
41
214
2.65
0.910
$2.50 mil/year
UFA
Semyon Varlamov (WAS)
23
30
2.39
0.917
$822 K/year
RFA
* at $2.25 mil/year, ** at $1.25 mil/year

Next, here's a similar table for the Flyers' current goalies:

Age Career Wins Career GAA Career SV% 2010-11 Cap Hit Contract Details
Sergei Bobrovsky
22
28
2.59
0.915
$1.75 mil/year
Two Years Left (RFA)
Brian Boucher
34
119
2.69
0.901
$925 K/year
UFA
Michael Leighton
29
35
2.95
0.902
$1.55 mil/year
One Year Left (UFA)

And lastly, a table for goalies in the Flyers system:

Age League 2010-11 Record 2010-11 GAA 2010-11 SV%
Johan Backlund
29
AHL
10-19-3
3.28
0.890
Joacim Eriksson
21
SEL
7-8-1
2.56
0.907
Brian Stewart
26
ECHL
20-6-0
2.25
0.927
Nicola Riopel
22
ECHL
24-12-2
2.79
0.906
Jakub Kovar
22
Czech
29-23-0
2.49
0.924

I'll allow each of you to interpret these numbers as you would like, but I will point out several important points.

First, although some of the younger available goalies have relatively cheap contracts, they all become restricted free agents when their contract expires, which makes them even more valuable (and significantly less likely to be traded). On the other hand, the older goalies are more expensive, but much more proven.

Second, as many have already noted, the Flyers are way too tight against the cap next year to sign guys like Bryzgalov, Vokoun, or Backstrom without trading away a contract or two.

Lastly, note that early career success for goalies like Brian Stewart or Nicola Riopel will not always translate into NHL stardom. Many young players burn out or fade away before reaching the spotlight of the National Hockey League, and often only a few of a team's top prospects will reach their full potential.

Feel free to comment below with what you think the Flyers should do or .

13 Comments

George Prax's picture

As I said in Matt's blog, this is it for the Flyers, they need to address this issue. I brought up the comparable of Carey Price. The Flyers are a deeper,better team than the Canadiens, based on the opinions of most. They were missing as big a piece as the Flyers the entire season - Markov vs. Pronger - yet they still brought the Bruins to the edge of elimination. I don't understand how people can blame the loss on anything other than goaltending, no matter if Pronger was out. Sign Bryzgalov!

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Haven't heard any rumour about Howard leaving Detroit; it makes 0 sense. They just resigned him and he had a stellar playoffs. No way Holland moves him. Unless Philly gives us Briere and Hartnell and pays both their contracts lol

Adam Pardes's picture

Like I said, this is a list of names that have been thrown around by fans. No way L.A. gets rid of Bernier, but I put them all together so people could see the numbers. Definitely not trying to start any rumors haha.

George Prax's picture

Why wouldn't LA get rid of Bernier? They have Quick.

Adam Pardes's picture

Even if they shopped him around, the asking price would probably be too high. Those RFA rights are worth so much, and Bernier is only 22. Can't see teams willing to give up several players for a mostly unproven goalie. Nice to have him as a backup in case Quick struggles, too.

George Prax's picture

I wouldn't say that there's no way though. Teams like the Flyers could end up getting desperate if the Bryzgalovs and Vokouns get snagged up quicker than they expected. Plus like you said the return for Bernier will be huge, the Kings have needs so I can't see them passing up on that.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

The Kings need wingers and although Bernier wont come cheap, the flyers have trade bait. They would be going after Carter or maybe JVR. I would be shocked to see them try and make this kind of move. I think Bob will be good for them as time moves on. He was just a rookie, I wouldn't count him out yet.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

I posted this on my article too:

In regards to Carey Price, the Flyers could quite possibly have that man in Sergei Bobrovosky. In Price's first year in the NHL he went 24-12-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .920 save %. Bob went 28-13-8 with a 2.59 GAA and a .915 save %. Bob came right from Russia to the NHL. Price had 12 games in Hamilton (that is over two years, meaning a whole summer too) before playing in the NHL. Bob hit the ground running and until the end of the year he looked great and even then he rebounded from a rough patch in February to tie together some real strong games at the end of the year that shows he has heart.

As Adam has shown, you're looking at expensive goalies versus unproven streaks in the pan. If you bring back Nitty, isn't that almost exactly like the situation they have had in Boosh?

I know patience is a difficult request after 36 years, but they are so close. I really won't like if they move pieces to bring in Bernier. Im sure he's talented but Washington proved two young goalies doesn't work.

George Prax's picture
Matthew Brigidi wrote:

I posted this on my article too:

In regards to Carey Price, the Flyers could quite possibly have that man in Sergei Bobrovosky. In Price's first year in the NHL he went 24-12-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .920 save %. Bob went 28-13-8 with a 2.59 GAA and a .915 save %. Bob came right from Russia to the NHL. Price had 12 games in Hamilton (that is over two years, meaning a whole summer too) before playing in the NHL. Bob hit the ground running and until the end of the year he looked great and even then he rebounded from a rough patch in February to tie together some real strong games at the end of the year that shows he has heart.

As Adam has shown, you're looking at expensive goalies versus unproven streaks in the pan. If you bring back Nitty, isn't that almost exactly like the situation they have had in Boosh?

I know patience is a difficult request after 36 years, but they are so close. I really won't like if they move pieces to bring in Bernier. Im sure he's talented but Washington proved two young goalies doesn't work.

No offense, but compare Bobrovsky to Carey Price is laughable. Price is a thoroughbred who was drafted 5th overall and has won, nay, carried teams at every level he's played. He had a bad season two years ago, but this year, at the same age as Bobrovsky, he was a top 5 goaltender in the league that's surely right behind the top three in Vezina votes. Bob's a good goalie with the potential to be a great goalie, but the comparison is a stretch to say the least. To go on "well, maybe, in a couple of years, Bobrovsky will be at Price's level" is a risk that I don't think the Flyers can afford. All teams have a window to compete and win the Cup, and by the time Bobrovsky pans out that window could very well be closed. Pronger's career is winding up, as is Timonen's, and Briere isn't getting any younger, and the rest of the core isn't getting any less expensive for the Flyers to manage. If the coach isn't confident enough to run a series with Bobrovsky, I don't see how the team can be confident enough to run him to a cup.

Adam Pardes's picture

To inject my personal opinion (which I tried to avoid doing in the article), I agree wholeheartedly with Matt. I thought Bob should've played more in the playoffs, even if it meant the Flyers would lose faster. He needs the experience. That said, he has some glaring faults in his technique, but I think his overall ability to see the play develop and his unreal athleticism will help him become Philly's #1 guy for a long time.

Phil T's picture

Anytime a goalie puts a flyers jersey on he starts sucking, it's physics.

Owen Durkin's picture

If Roly is still on the market when the time comes, he's the guy the Flyers need to target. A short term, relatively modest contract is the solution for a team with a talent like Bob who needs to tandem with a veteran, not sit and watch from the bench. Signing a high-end veteran starter looking for job security (read: NMC) to a big contract handcuffs the Flyers more than it helps their cause. Imagine if they offer a Vokoun or Bryz 5 M for four years (with said NMC) and cough up a talent like Carter to afford him, only to have the guy A. play poorly or B. get hurt? Roly or even Giguere (if healthy) affords them cap room, veteran goaltending and the opportunity to continue to develop Bob. If not, a trade for Corey Schneider, who is ready to take the reigns...

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Just because Price had a reputation doesn't mean he had any less of a chance to fail. Last season Price was replaced for Halak, but bounced back to put together a great year this year. Bob doesn't have to be a superstar, he just has to be good. Whether or not the comparrison is laughable is kind of irrelevent; Price and Bob had similar first season numbers. I don't think it's outlandish to think that Bob could turn out to be a top-5 goaltender.