Ray Emery has returned to the Flyers. The rumors of the team’s interest in the free agent goaltender were true, as he signed a one year deal worth 1.65 million dollars.
The deal is not surprising from the Flyers’ perspective. Since originally signing him as a free agent in 2009, the team has held him in high regard. His tenure with the team came to an unfortunate end when he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in his hip that put his career in jeopardy.
Surgery corrected the problem, and Emery eventually made it back to the NHL, signing with the Blackhawks in 2011. Serving as a backup, he excelled last season with a 17-1-0 record and a 1.94 goals against average.
The move is more surprising from Emery’s perspective. He was reportedly content serving as a backup on the Cup winning Blackhawks, and it was thought that it would require a significant offer to lure him away.
The Flyers’ unsettled goaltending situation might have appealed to him. He likely thinks that he’ll be able to win the starting job and possibly earn much more as a free agent next season.
Unlike some of the team’s other recent moves, this signing looks very smart. After “amnestying” Ilya Bryzgalov, the only goalie on their roster with NHL experience was the still unproven Steve Mason. They wanted to bring in a veteran to partner with or compete with Mason, and at that price, Emery seems like an excellent option.
Two years after they were convinced that a top paid goalie was necessary to win the Cup, this move is evidence of another shift in the Flyers’ thinking. The Bryzgalov debacle, combined with the recent “non-star” Cup winning goaltenders has shown that they only need to receive steady play from the goaltender. If either Emery or Mason can deliver that, then the Flyers are better served spending their money on building the team around them.