Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flyers sign goaltender Johan Backlund

In an effort to bring in more depth to the organization, and to possibly replace Martin Biron or Antero Niittymaki, both free agents after this season, the Flyers have signed Johan Backlund, a 27 year old netminder from Sweden. Backlund, who signed a one year deal with the Flyers, had played 5 seasons in the Swedish Elite league and has a career 2.54 goals against average in 287 games. He has no NHL experience, but Backlund was the starting goaltender for Team Sweden at the 2007 World Championships, leading the team to a 4th place finish.

The signing looks like a move to bring in a possible backup goalie for next season. With the way Biron is playing right now, the Flyers would be smart to try to sign him to a new deal and let Niittymaki, who will also be a free agent, sign elsewhere. Niittymaki will surely be looking for starter money in free agency, something the Flyers, who are already close to the salary cap, could never afford. Backlund represents a cheap option for a backup goalie who won't be expected to challenge for the starting role.

This is a no-risk signing for the Flyers. Backlund signed a one year deal for likely a small amount of money, so if he can't cut it in the NHL, the Flyers can send him packing after a year. If he somehow emerges as a legitimate NHL player, the Flyers would then have quite a bargain on their hands.

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