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Should the Flyers stick with Leighton and Boucher in net?

Jun 11, 2010, 1:45 PM EST

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for leighton.jpgWhile this group of people was curiously absent for a few weeks, the “Paul Holmgren should have traded for a veteran goalie” brigade conveniently appeared once the Chicago Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. That’s a pretty ridiculous stance to take when you consider the fact that the seventh-seed/barely even playoff-worthy Philadelphia Flyers made it much deeper in the playoffs than anyone anticipated. That silly reaction is another discussion for another day, though.

Instead, many are justifiably wondering if the Flyers (cue the broken record) should go out and get a different goalie. Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News shares his thoughts on the subject.

The truth is, you do not need Brodeur or Patrick Roy anymore to win a Cup. Antti Niemi, after all, is about to have his name engraved on the thing. If you want to argue that a tandem of Leighton (a free agent) and Boucher (already signed) is good enough to make another run at it, well, put it this way: It would have been crazy talk a decade ago, but it is not now.

Still, if you are the Flyers, don’t you have to be a little better there? Remember Pittsburgh and Washington. The Flyers’ star players are not as good as the Penguins’ and the Capitals’ star players. The way you beat them is with balance and with goaltending.

I’d make Mike Richards , Claude Giroux and Pronger untouchable. After that, I’d be willing to talk about anybody if it would significantly upgrade the goaltending and add to the defensive depth. That is the other issue. Pronger did wear down in the last few games, finally. They need another defenseman whom they are not afraid to play.

Look, every team wants to be strong in net. Yet there seems to be a sea change in the way some people look at goalies. After all, could you confidently say that you know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – who the best netminder in the NHL is right now? I can’t say I know without flinching (maybe Henrik Lundqvist or Ryan Miller?), so to assume that there is some free agent cure-all is a bit silly.

Really, I think the Flyers would be better off going with the Detroit Red Wings model of average (but super cheap) goalies surrounded by an excellent team. If they go for a big-name goalie, they’d need to sacrifice some of the forward depth that helped them advance through three rounds of the playoffs. And let’s not forget the fact that they’d be signing a guy who wasn’t worthy of a contract extension with a team. On some level, there’s a reason someone becomes a free agent – you have to expect some warts.

I’m not saying that Philadelphia should close its eyes to the possibility of signing a Marty Turco or Evgeni Nabokov – or even trading for Tomas Vokoun – but such a decision would be risky and would come at a considerable cost.

What do you think? Should the Flyers sacrifice a useful player – maybe a Jeff Carter or other second level star – in hopes of improving in net? Could they be better off going cheap with Boucher and pending UFA Leighton? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. schiver - Jun 11, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    As a Flyers fan, I totally agree with you, James. When the Flyers were considering trading Jeff Carter for Tomas Vokoun at the deadline, I was dreading them actually pulling the trigger. I simply don’t think it’s worth it to trade a young star offensive talent like Carter for a goaltender at any level. As a goalie myself, I know that while it’s likely the most important position on the ice, it’s also the most fickle. It’s so hard to find a goalie that will be consistently good for many years. When I think of the greatest goalies of all time, only a few names come to mind. So to trade someone like Carter, who could be a staple in the Flyers lineup for 10 years for a someone like Vokoun, who might have a couple years left, well… it’s just not worth it, in my opinion.

  2. joe_buck_is_creepy - Jun 11, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Carter does tally points, but he sucks when it counts. It would be worth it to grab a solid goalie for Carter.

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