From eating delicious postgame meals in Buffalo to rumors circulating in the hockey world, the old-school Flyers are back … well, kind of. Gritty is still of the new school.
With the team's goaltending situation a hot mess, it didn't take long for the Flyers to enter the rumor business again post-Ron Hextall. In fact, Chuck Fletcher was named GM just six days ago.
This one is juicy for several reasons. It makes sense, would elevate the Flyers into the next tier and would right a wrong. From Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, who we recall broke the Braydon Coburn trade in 2015 at 1:48 a.m.:
The answer to the longest-running riddle in hockey may come from an unexpected place: As the Philadelphia Flyers ruminate on how to shore up their goaltending — at least until prospect Carter Hart is ready to take the wheel — there are whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1.
Whoa. Let's dissect this one.
We all know about Bobrovsky, the one that got away, or better worded, the prime example of what was wrong with the old-school Flyers — a lack of patience and knowledge of how to develop goaltending. Many say the Flyers never should have traded Bob, which is wrong. They had to trade Bobrovsky because they had already closed that door when they panicked and signed Ilya Bryzgalov in the summer of 2011. They never should have signed Bryzgalov. They should have signed a veteran stopgap and been patient with Bobrovsky.
Sound familiar? Of course it does, because Flyers goaltending is a vicious cycle of mediocrity. It's a similar situation now as the Flyers have a legitimate goalie prospect in Carter Hart receiving AHL seasoning. To Hextall's credit, he understood how to handle developing goaltending; he just completely bungled the bridge to Hart.
The Flyers' goaltending situation this season is a disaster and one of the major downfalls of the Hextall era. The Flyers have used five goalies this season, and it's just Dec. 9. It wasn't like this wasn't totally predictable. Brian Elliott was coming off major core muscle surgery and Michal Neuvirth had an injury record longer than a high school U.S. history textbook. It was a bad bet that Elliott and Neuvirth could get you to Hart.
An injury to Alex Lyon during the preseason was the real curveball. But betting on Lyon being the backup would have been a high-risk bet. Hextall should have addressed the goaltending situation in some way. He didn't, and now Fletcher is the GM.
Neither Elliott and Neuvirth have contracts after this season, and it's almost a sure bet that neither will be back next season. Elliott hasn't necessarily been bad here, but health issues are catching up. The Flyers need a better option until Hart is ready to take over.
Which brings us to Bobrovsky, who has the second-best save percentage (.921) among NHL goaltenders since the Flyers traded him to Columbus in 2012 and has won the Vezina Trophy twice.
Bobrovsky's time in Columbus appears to be coming to an end. He's a free agent on July 1 and all signs point to him testing free agency.
According to The Athletic's Aaron Porzline in a story published Aug. 22, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets had not "actively negotiated for some time now." As Portzline pointed out, it's assumed Bobrovsky wants to be the highest-paid goalie in the NHL.
This is where it gets a little murky for the Flyers. Carey Price is the league's highest-paid goalie after signing an eight-year, $84 million contract on July 2, 2017. Bobrovsky's résumé warrants him to be in that conversation.
Postseason struggles aside, Bob has been one of the best goalies in the league since 2012. But the playoff performances are part of Bob's story, and they're not pretty. Bobrovsky has struggled in the first third of this season, but his track record is strong enough to overlook it.
Bobrovsky is going to be paid big this summer, and the Flyers have cap space and the drive to spend. Bringing Bobrovsky back would instantly solve this problem; it's just about the term.
The Flyers have learned firsthand not to go term on a goalie. But dishing out big bucks on, say, a five-year contract? It solves the problem now and doesn't block Hart either.
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