The Number 1 Goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers Is…..

…well, we’re not quite sure on that one just yet. One thing we know for sure is that the Roman Empire has fallen in Philadelphia, and that finding a replacement for the “Bipolar Goaler” has yet to begin.

We can also be sure (well, not COMPLETELY sure) that we won’t see any more action until free agency begins on July 1. GM Bob Clarke stated at a press conference yesterday that before exploring trade options, he and his staff would take their time and evaluate those netminders available on the UFA market.

“We’ve had starting goaltenders been mentioned to us, that they could be made available, but I think we’ll wait and see who’s available after free agency, what type of goaltender it is, whether our team likes that guy and how he compares to someone who may be available through trade,” Clarke said in today’s Philadelphia Daily News.

The feeling is, why trade for a goalie when signing one will only cost you the money to do so? It is difficult to argue with that logic, and the same sentiment would probably be echoed throughout the league by other executives.

Be that as it may, there are many alternatives to life after Roman Cechmanek. All kinds of names are being thrown about by the media, and the only thing anyone knows for sure is that Cechmanek is the new #1 goalie for the LA Kings.

However, there is more to consider here, something that Clarke has done could have ramifications all over the NHL. He has significantly lowered the bar in the goalie market. Whether he did it knowingly or not, that deal affects every goalie-related move from now until October. By only getting a #2 next year for a starting goaltender with some of the best stats over the past three years, teams like Phoenix, who are saddled with Sean Burke and want to move him to save some cash, are screwed. Any GM around the league won’t offer more than what LA offered for Cechmanek, who is clearly a better player. Also, most of the players on the UFA market made more than Cechmanek last season, so their price tags are all lessened automatically.

Possible future netminders for the Orange and Black:

ROBERT ESCHE – Currently the organization’s choice for #1 starter. I am beginning to think that there was a reason the Flyers went out and got him last year. He is a young player who has been in the league for a few years and has been slowly developed by some good goalie coaches. Coach Ken Hitchcock raves about him, and even favorably compares him to Curtis Joseph. It remains to be seen if the decision to hand him the reins is unanimous, but it wouldn’t be a difficult one. He played amazing hockey in the first half of the season, only to get rusty when the lion’s share of the games were going to Cechmanek. Given the chance, he could be the guy.

FELIX POTVIN – Not as enticing as many people think, and made half a million more than Cechmanek does. His play has dropped off considerably ever since that nice run he had after coming over from Vancouver. Would only be as a veteran backup, AND at a greatly reduced price (see how that lowered market comes back into play?)

JEFF HACKETT – Fifteen years in the league, and only posted a winning record twice. Hasn’t been a full-time starter since 1999. Filled in nicely for Jose Theodore early this season, but crumbled under the pressure of expectations when shipped to Boston. As with Potvin, only as a vet backup with a low price tag. Probably won’t even get all that much consideration as he is contemplating retirement.

CHRIS OSGOOD – St. Louis ponied up for him at the deadline, and wants to hold on to him, but at a lower cost. He made $4 million last season, and it is difficult to see any team giving him that again, even though he thinks he’s going to get it. Despite having good credentials, he’s also just not that good anymore (hence the nicknames “Nogood” or “Wasgood”). Chances here are slim.

NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN – Despite wishful thinking by the Flyers’ faithful, I don’t think they get him. He is an impressive talent, but he is being called “untradeable” (at least publicly) by Lightning management. His high salary is also a concern for Philadelphia, as ridding themselves of Cechmanek was not only a change in goaltending philosophy, but a move to save some bling-bling as well. Khabibulin also held out for a year, something that Clarke hasn’t had a good experience with. If the ‘Bulin wall does get moved (I’m not saying he will) it will probably be to Colorado.

OLAF KOLZIG – I can tell you right off the bat that this won’t happen, for a bunch of reasons. First of which is the fact that Clarke doesn’t want to do George McPhee any favors. High salary is another, and the fact that, despite Clarke’s lowering the market, McPhee’s asking price will be too high.

EVGENI NABOKOV – Probably wishful thinking on my part, but a possibility nonetheless. Still pretty young and with a new contract, the Sharks might not be willing to part with him, despite their apparent rebuilding stage. Teemu Selanne leaving will save them more in salary than they need. However, Nabokov still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way ownership treated him, and may request a deal. Also to consider: Vesa Toskala finished the season in impressive fashion for San Jose.

MARTIN BIRON – Could be the odd man out in Buffalo after being heralded as a savior when Hasek bolted for Motown. With Ryan Miller developing rapidly and Mika Noronnen already entrenched, this could be the right move. He’s still young and has shown that he can be a #1 in this league, but Clarke might have to get in line.

Not really a consideration for right now, but the Flyers have another Czech goalie, ironically also named Roman. MALEK, that is, and the organization thinks highly of him. “That kid over in Europe” as Clarke calls him could be signed and in camp to compete for a job, but at 25 he could develop with the AHL’s Phantoms for a while with Finnish prospect ANTERO NIITYMAKI. That could mean the end of a long and distinguished career for minor league vet Neil Little.

From the looks of things, the UFA route appears about as exciting as a wet fart. Osgood, Potvin, and Hackett don’t bring all that much to the table, each one of them has “fill-in” written all over them.

The tradeable commodities are where it’s at. Clarke might wait a while, and say that Esche is the guy, but if they can get a quality young netminder at a decent price then he should go for it. If I had to pick one name out of any of those listed above I would have to say Biron is the most attractive to Philadelphia right now. Clarke is a master at loading up on draft picks and Buffalo, a struggling franchise with new ownership, needs to rebuild its talent base.

Having a one-two punch of Biron and Esche would suit the Flyers just fine.

That’s all for now. Release the hounds!

64 Responses to The Number 1 Goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers Is…..

  1. Habfanforever says:

    What Philly needs to do is trade for the 1st overall pick (Fleury) and lock up Hacks and they got solid goaltending and probably the best to come.

    Thay got good trade bait for the 1st overall.

  2. FlyersGoCupCrazy says:

    Two quick points:

    1) It won’t take all that much to land Biron. Everybody knows that three’s a crowd, and with Miller, Noronen, and Biron, somebody has to go. Since the best available goalie went for a 2nd rounder, what do you think Biron will go for? Maybe a few picks and a prospect (maybe Sharp or somebody like that, similar to what we gave up for Amonte).

    2) I wouldn’t want Burke. Why would we want a goalie that didn’t succeed that last time he was here? Oh, and by the way, LeClair isn’t going anywhere, nor should he.

  3. mikster says:

    Did you know that Oates was traded to the Caps for a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Oullete?


  4. mikster says:

    Then why didn’t Clarke laugh at McPhee last year? I can think of a stupid trade now, people criticize it, and i turn out to be right. Stupid trades happen, you’re right and Clarke can make a stupid one as well again.

    I speak to people who rate prospects, who watch and scout these guys, and who speak to scouts and they said that Woywitka was much better offensively this season, but he was slacking defensively and Phaneuf was his defensive help. Notice how i also spoke about this past season for the Red Deer, not Woywitka’s 4 years. I already raved about Woyboy on here before. Syaing that the Flyers may want to dump Damphousse and another d-man to put in Pitkanen and Woywitka. These two will be the Flyers future d-men.

    Johnsson was trade bait with the Rangers, Slats made it a statement that he offered him twice to the Coyotes and times for other teams.

    I have stated that the Flyers are winning the Lindros deal. But then again, why are you starting another arguement?

    Clarke doesn’t have to trade for Biron. I know that. Did i say he had to? Never said that. He can risk with Esche, or he can sign a not so good UFA goalie who is over 30 and most likely washed up.

    His choice. He can take risks and he does take risks. That’s why i always have defended Clarke when Flyers fans wanted him out. Gotta love a GM that takes risks and wins most of them. Right?

    Sabres are not as financially in struggle now. And, they can have Noronen in the minors and Biron and Miller split the season and during the season, they can trade Biron.

    And, they can offer draft picks but Sabres management doesn’t need that many picks. They are top 15 in prospects. They need a young starting player, at least one big-booty. You’re not going to trade a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 5th for Biron.


    Also, i made a proposition of Williams, Woywitka, and a pick for Biron AND Zhitnik. Not just Biron.

    I want Clarke to get Biron. I feel he is exactly what they need.

  5. mikster says:

    Well, you mentioned Satan and Biron for Williams and Woywitka.

    And, i know i may be overrating Biron. But, i think he’s going to be great.

  6. oil_drop says:

    This could happen if Lethonen is ready in the eyes of Atlanta. Also Pasi Nurminen played very good under Hartley and he could be the Thrashers number one goalie and Lethonen in the backup spot till hes ready to be the number one.

  7. mikster says:

    They need a good goalie. Biron is better than those guys and the Flyers do not need a decent goalie. What for? Isn’t that a downgrade between the pipes after trading Cechmanek?

    Well, not everyone is going crazy for Biron. I have been for the past two seasons, especially the one w/o Hasek.

    Also, no reports of how much the Sabres would want in return. I think he is worth a prospect and a starter; in return the team gets Biron and a pick.

  8. calflyers says:

    The “Burke situation” is “night and day” if you compare the situation with “now” and the “last time” he was here. (Meaning his “attitude” would be different)

    I don’t think anybody would take Leclair, i was basically meant if someone like Burke came here, a “high salary” might have to go…

    Biron would be a good aquisition for Philly

    (and he “fits the budget”)

  9. flyersdude123 says:

    Esche will be an upgrade over Cechmanek, simple as that.

  10. flyersdude123 says:

    Flyers don’t need Zhitnik, it’s better to go with a younger defensemen who has the potential to be better and he’ll be paid less money than Zhitnik.

  11. bender says:

    As much as Mikster wants to blow hard about how he thinks Biron is the next best thing, your exactly right!!!!, why do we need to trade…..

    We’ve seen this post season that a virtually “unknown” can rise to playoff glory.

    Giguere just plays great positional hockey, and his defense comes back to help out. If Esche stays in the net and lets his defense work for him too…..we may be ahead of the game next year!!!!

  12. Stuv_Dogg says:

    Anyone hear anything about Hasek coming back for another year or two with either Philly or Colorado?

  13. Stuv_Dogg says:

    What’s with all the “quotes”?

  14. regdunlop says:

    …But I think that people are being to hard on Potvin and Osgood. “Potvin and Osgood are jokes and shouldn’t even be considered”. That is ridiculous. Potvin has played really well for the Kings. His numbers were in the top three goaltenders in the NHL un from the time he got traded to the start of last season. The reason that his numbers sucked last year was because of injuries to him and more importantly, the team. See how good Roy would be when 12 of your starters are out. Osgood has won a cup….and that experience alone is huge. They may not be worth upwards of 3 million a year…but they are definately #1 goaltenders. I could The Cat going to another team (like Boston) and doing well. The Kings could even still try to resign Potvin at a lower rate and trade checkmanek. In everything that I’ve read DT has said that they have addressed their goalting worries…not Roman is the starter.

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