Friday, June 12, 2009

Flyers scraping the bottom of the goalie barrel: Robert Esche is on their radar

No, that article title isn't an error. And, no, All Things Philly Sports hasn't crashed and reverted back to a blog post from 2005. The Flyers are really interested in bringing back goaltender Robert Esche.

The Flyers recently signed Ray Emery, and while I made it pretty clear that I was against the move, they were smart to save money and get a goalie who could be as good, if not better, than Martin Biron, who would have cost several million dollars more. The latest news on who the Flyers want to back up Emery is ridiculous, however, and really speaks to just how cheap the Flyers really want to be with their goalies. According to TSN, the team is believed to be in pursuit of Robert Esche, who last played for the Flyers in the 2006-2007 season, to be their backup goaltender. Esche left the Flyers in 2007 to go play in Russia and hasn't been back to the NHL since. At 31, Esche isn't that old, and he did put up a sub-2.00 goals against average in the KHL last season, but the Flyers are really grasping at straws with this one.

Signing Esche for a million bucks to be their backup goaltender may sound good on paper, and it will make nostalgic fans happy, but how insane would the Flyers have to be to think they can enter a season with a pair of goaltenders who have been out of the league for the past few seasons? When/if Ray Emery implodes, do the Flyers really feel confident that Esche can step into the crease and be the same goalie that led them to the Eastern Conference Finals the year before the lockout? Do they not remember that the last time Esche played goal in the NHL he had a goals against average over 4?

Signing a pair of former NHL goaltenders from Russia for around a million bucks each is a pretty crazy strategy. If it somehow works, GM Paul Holmgren and the Flyers will look like geniuses. If it fails, they could be the laughingstock of the NHL. This Flyers team is on the cusp of being an elite NHL team and skimping on goaltending isn't the thing that will bump them up to the top. I understand that if they save on goalies, they can get a better group of defensemen on the roster, but what good are better defensemen if the guy behind them can't stop the puck?


Corey R said...

Great points. This is such a risky move for the Flyers. I happen to really like Biron, but I understand if they don't want to pay him that kind of money. We really need to do something about our defenseman situation. Got any potentials in mind? I'm pretty excited about James van Reimsdyk to make his debut, which will hopefully be opening day when we can all forget that Pittsburgh ever won.

allthingsphilly said...

Not sure what D-men they have in mind. They will obviously try to land Jay Bouwmeester, but they will have to lose a forward, possibly Lupul, to afford him. The Flyers may have to go a cheaper route and bring back someone like Dennis Seidenberg, which won't be all that exciting.