The Flyers are currently gambling on the goaltending tandem of recently re-signed Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher for a full season.¬† While both goaltenders are serviceable and are not locked into expensive, lengthy contracts, this will mark the first time in Leighton‚Äôs career that he will be given the reins of a franchise.¬† Long-time colleague and competitor Craig Anderson was given his chance with the Colorado Avalanche last season and shined, so I don‚Äôt feel that this direction with the off-season roster moves to upgrade the defense will be a setback.
The free agent market for goaltenders was wide open on July 1st, but has since dwindled down to a few big names who are used to bloated contracts.¬† Should the Flyers choose to make additional moves, there are a few options worth considering.¬† The easy names to throw out are Marty Tuco and Jose Theodore, who would serve as veteran safety nets for Leighton.¬† Two wild cards remain on the table, though- Carey Price and Antti Niemi.
While the trade of goaltender Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues was not as one-sided as it looked, it was a gamble for general manager Pierre Gauthier to move him before signing Price.¬† Price was thrust into the spotlight before he had a chance to fully develop, and at 22 years of age, he still has time to blossom into the elite player he was projected to be.¬† Right now, it appears that the gamble hasn‚Äôt paid off because the two sides don‚Äôt seem to be able to come to an agreement on anything.¬†
The Canadiens currently need to fill three roster spots, including Price, and have $4.7 million to work with. ¬†It‚Äôs unlikely that they don‚Äôt sign him or that the Flyers would be able to sign him either.¬† After having spent two seasons as the scapegoat for all of the Canadiens‚Äô problems and being boo-ed on a number of occasions, though, Price may be looking for a change of scenery.
Antti Niemi is another goaltender that will likely sign with his current team- the Chicago Blackhawks.¬† The Hawks have been making moves to try and fit his salary, but they are still over the salary cap even after dumping a quarter of their cup winning roster.¬† Niemi is apparently asking for money in exchange for his services, and an arbitration date is set for this Thursday. If the Hawks are unable to match, Niemi could become available.¬† Niemi has yet to prove he can handle the workload for a whole season, but a Stanley Cup ring is hard to argue with.
Vesa Toskala is also available too, but I would prefer that my hair didn‚Äôt turn white before I turned thirty.