There were rumors that a connection between the Flyers front office and Chicago backup goalie Ray Emery would bring the former Flyer back to Philadelphia for another stay with the Flyers. It looks like those rumors have come to fruition, as multiple reports (originating from TSN's Darren Dreger) are reporting that Emery has signed a one-year deal with the Flyers to be one of their two goalies for next season.
We don't know the exact dollar amount yet, but Dreger is guessing it'll be somewhere in the $1.7 to $1.8 million range.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN/TSN is saying Emery's deal is worth $1.65 million. This means that the Flyers will be paying a total of $3.15 million to their two goalies this year, which is different from their situation of the last two seasons, to say the least.
Emery, who turns 31 in September, is coming off a fine year where he and Chicago starter Corey Crawford combined to win the Jennings Trophy (for the goalie/tandem that allows the fewest goals during the season). He posted a .922 save percentage across 21 regular-season games for the Cup champions in the shortened season, and has put up a .911 save percentage in the 65 appearances he's made since leaving the Flyers in 2010 with his hip injury.
We looked into the possibility of an Emery return a week ago:
[Every] goalie's got their peaks and valleys, and they're pronounced over a sample as limited as five games, but you can see that there's been a lot of variation in that time. You can see it on a larger scale, too; though he's averaged a .908 for his career, most of his NHL seasons have ended with a percentage a bit above or below that number.
So we know Emery can still be a quality goalie, but he's not someone for whom we quite know what we're getting. He's a bit of a gamble, so he may not be the best option to go alongside another obvious gamble in Mason. But there's upside, and like Travis said on Tuesday, he's young enough (31 next season) that if he ends up doing well here on a short-term basis he could stick around for a bit longer.
Basically, once it was reported yesterday that the Flyers were out on Tim Thomas, this was likely the best option in free agency. While this isn't really an exciting move, and it's not one without risk, it's very hard to be upset about it, and at this point it's probably the best course of action.
It's a one-year deal at a modest, team-friendly amount of money. The Flyers didn't have to give up any assets to get him. There's still probably some injury concern, so let's hope the Flyers have done their due diligence on that front, but Emery's had spurts over the past few seasons that show he can indeed be a very good goalie.
Probably most importantly, they've avoided a situation that ends in Steve Mason getting 60 starts next season. The team clearly liked what Mason showed at the end of the season, particularly in his work ethic, but if they have any remote expectation that this whole project with Mason will be successful, they need him to keep showing that kind of work ethic and commitment to improving. Tough to guess exactly if or how that'll work out, but bringing in a veteran goalie who is (a) better than Steve Mason and (b) also trying to prove he can be a starter should help in that regard.
And in case neither of them play well, there's not a significant long-term commitment to either of them in place. So worst-case scenario we're right back where we started next summer.
Now we wait for the next move. According to Capgeek, the Flyers entered today roughly $600,000 under the salary cap. Accordingly, this move puts them roughly $1.05 million over that cap. We were already pretty sure that other moves were coming, but now we basically know it for sure. Stay tuned.