Bill Meltzer of Hockeybuzz broke the news late this morning that the Flyers have elected not to extend a contract to their top prospect, goaltender Joacim Eriksson. Eriksson is now eligible to sign with any NHL team he chooses. Although there is some argument to be made in defense of Paul Holmgren’s decision to lose the young Swede, this is about as poor of a decision as it gets.
The web site The Goalie Guild updated their top 100 goaltending prospects on May 9. The list includes players who have played 25 games in the NHL or less, so Sergei Bobrovsky would not be on the list. Eriksson ranks 38th on the list, while fellow Flyers goaltending prospect Nicola Riopel ranks 43rd.
Another web site, Hockeys Future, ranked Eriksson as the Flyers’ #1 prospect as of September 2010. Sergei Bobrovsky was ranked #2. Of the remaining players in the top 5 positions on that list, Pat Maroon was shipped to Anaheim, Joonas Lehtivuori hated Adirondack and was shipped out of the country, and Kevin Marshall hasn’t shown that he could be more than a 5th or 6th defenseman.
What I’m getting at is that releasing your best prospect, when the cupboard is completely bare, is ridiculous. It’s especially disheartening when you consider that goaltending has been the team’s Achilles heel since 1987, and this was a legitimate shot of finding another franchise goaltender within their ranks.
As I remarked earlier, there are certainly other facts to consider here as to what could possibly be going through Holmgren’s mind. Like recent signing Niko Hovinen, Eriksson was planning on staying in the Swedish Elitserien for at least another year, so he wouldn’t be coming over regardless. He had previously excelled in the Swedish Junior league, but was not able to grab the starting position away from teammate Andreas Hadelov. As a result, he only started in 17 games this past season with Skelleftea, but showed promise.
It’s possible the organization could take a second look at him in the future; there’s no reason they still can’t sign him. The problem is that he’s also free to sign elsewhere and the Flyers will have gained nothing from drafting him. Holmgren better hope that Hovinen has a career year next season.
In similar news, former Flyers goaltending prospect Jacob Deserres recently won the Memorial Cup in the QMJHL Championship with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Deserres was let go after the 2009-10 season despite a decent showing in the Memorial Cup Finals with the Brandon Wheat Kings. At the time, he was fairly inconsistent from season to season so it was difficult to gauge how he would pan out. When you consider the logjam of goalies the team has under contract already, it didn’t seem like that bad of a decision.
With the Memorial Cup Championship under his belt, Deserres may soon find another shot at the NHL, being in a similar situation to Hovinen’s.
For the latest Flyers news, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).
Holmgren is by far one of the worst GMs in hockey…. he has made some bone headed moves this past year and continues to deplete the farm of talent…. this team needs to make massive changes to the attitude and mental make up of the team if they are ever going to win and I dont think the GM has the smarts.
Another puzzling move made by GM Holmgrem who may have taken one too mnay hits in the head as a player to be a stable and effective GM.. This team continuallys amazes me how the Front Offfice/GM fail to Draft,Develop, Good young talent year after year and especially at Goalie and the Defense where they have to go out and sign Free-agents who are over-paid and typically under-perform… Isn”t the Flyers Team Payroll among the Highest in the NHL year after year, and what do they have to show for it …
This move isnt all that puzzling as some people think. Eriksson is still 2-3 years from coming over to the NHL. They have a log jam at goalie with Bobrovsky, Leighton, Backlund, and Niko. Not to mention their desire to sign or trade for a top flight #1 goalie this offseason. Eriksson has not even been named a starter on his team in Sweden. Niko was ranked #43 goalie prospect compared to Eriksson at #38 in the world so its not that big of a change. They are still able to sign him if they want in the future. He is not eligible for the draft anymore because he is over the age limit. This is actually a pretty smart move by Holmgren. Signing a guy to an NHL contract would not have helped. He is not ready to play over here and the AHL is full at least for the next year. The Flyers will get a goalie this offseason so that will be 3 goalies under NHL contracts (Goalie to come, Leighton and Backlund.) They can send Bob to the AHL if they really needed too and have him play 55 games in the AHL and save 200,000 off the cap by having Leighton as the backup, but who knows if they do that. Bob has options so he wouldn’t be a product of waivers.
Overall this is a non-factor due to the fact that the Flyers will be getting another goalie this off-season.
That’s the issue with the Flyers, They will bring in a Veteran who will be a 1 year band-aid on the bigger issue which is why cant’t the Flyers Develop young Goalies and Defenseman any longer.. They alway hoave to trade for, sign as a free-agent to get quality Goalies/Defenseman and it’s been like this for 25 years…