Update: Checking in with the Flyers Goalies
Another hockey season is upon us, and yet another season where the Philadelphia Flyers have questions in goal. The tandem of Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher are back for another year after going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Throughout the system, the Flyers have some promising prospects who may be the future in net.
After being picked up on waivers last season, Michael Leighton got the starting job after Ray Emery and Brian Boucher went down with injuries. Unfortunately, Leighton was injured in March, and watched Boucher start during the stretch run until he too got hurt in the second round and Leighton started from then all the way through the Cup Finals. After questions about who the 10-11 Flyers goalies would be, Leighton resigned for a modest 2 year, $3.1 million dollar deal. Combined with the returning Boucher, it seems that the 1-2 punch would be cemented. However, Leighton was injured in a preseason game against Toronto, and will miss a month with a herniated disc. This opens the door for one of the youngsters to step up.
Sergei Bobrovsky was brought over to North America in May after spending the last four years playing in the KHL in Russia. Bobrovsky got his first taste of NHL action Tuesday night against New Jersey, earning a win after a solid third period and a good shootout performance. Bobrovsky is most likely slated to play with the AHL Adirondack Phantoms, but that doesn’t stop fans from being excited about the potential the young Russian shows. He has played in four of the five preseason games so far, and has played extremely well. Competing with him for the Phantoms starting job will be Johan Backlund, who played 41 games with the Phantoms last year, and got himself into 2 Flyers games (one of which was a playoff game). Backlund is coming off hip surgery and is still recovering, which may give the edge to Bobrovsky. With Leighton missing a month, one of these guys will be on the Flyers’ roster to start the year, with the other starting in Adirondack. It may benefit Bobrovsky to start in Adirondack, as he is still getting used to North America, and will get a chance to play.
Two prospects that won’t see NHL action any time soon, but are still on the radar are Nicola Riopel and Joacim Eriksson. Riopel played a few games with the Phantoms last year before being loaned back to his junior club in Moncton. While Leightion is out at the NHL level, this gives a Riopel a shot to stay with the Phantoms and get some action with the club. Eriksson is a interesting name, being a 7th round pick in 2008, and working his way up to be the Flyers’ #1 prospect. This season, Eriksson will stay overseas with Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League.
For the past twenty years, the Flyers have had no luck in the goaltending department and it has cost them several times. Will Leighton return healthy, and will he be the #1 throughout the year? Which goalie will make the opening night roster? Will Bobrovsky continue to be the phenom and swoop in? There are plenty of questions, but one thing is for sure. One injury allow a guy to be an unlikely hero; we saw it last year.
Note: This was an update based off of the original article, which can be found at Crimespree Hockey.