If/when the Flyers sign goalie Ray Emery, it will represent a tremendous step backwards for the franchise.
The Flyers’ Marty Biron goalie years represented a recognition that a modern, post-lockout NHL franchise needs a strong presence in goal. And to be honest, you really needed a strong goalie before the lockout, too. One of former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke’s greatest failures was his pathological denial of the need for solid goaltending.
Emery represents a return to that direction. Sure, he’s had his personality issues. But ultimately, that’s ancillary to his playing. And his NHL game hasn’t been strong in quite some time. It’s possible his time in the KHL has made him a better goalie, but not probable. While the KHL has some NHL talent, it’s more the exception than the norm.
One of the reasons the Flyers want Emery is to save salary to sign Jay Bouwmeester, an offensive defenseman who, ironically, requires the use of a strong goalie to save his mistakes.
It’s not a certainty that Emery will fail in Philadelphia, but I don’t think it’s a given he’ll thrive, and I’m not sure what the Flyers plan B option will be if Emery doesn’t work out. Even if he’s on a one-year contract.