Flyers Faithful asked Sarah Baicker from CSN Philly, Anthony SanFilippo from the DelCo Daily Times, Geoff Detweiler from Broad Street Hockey, and our very own Nina G five questions about the ’11 Flyers’ season. We are very grateful that they took the time to share their opinions and predictions with us. Each day of this week, we will run the answers to one of those questions. Today’s question is:
How will the goaltending situation play out in Philadelphia?
Sarah Baicker: I still think this is the biggest question facing the Flyers this season, even though so many who watch the game are captivated by young Sergei Bobrovsky and are ready to place the franchise on his shoulders. I’m not won over – yet. “Bob” is only 22, and his experience in the North American game is still limited. That said, he has proven to be competent thus far, and hasn’t given the team any reason to believe he doesn’t belong in – at a minimum – the backup goalie position on the Flyers. Of course anything can happen, as we know, with injuries, trades and so forth, but my guess is that Michael Leighton and Bobrovsky will be your two Flyers goalies by the time we start talking about a playoff run as more than something months and months in the future.
Anthony SanFilippo: Wait… let the carousel stop spinning… could take awhile…
Seriously, the Flyers hope that they’ve finally found a solution to their ever-changing goaltending situation and it’s Sergei Bobrovsky.
There’s no doubt that Bobrovsky is their go-to guy – even if they’re not saying it yet. Unless he completely gags in net, he’s going to be the guy playing in March, April and beyond.
The only question that remains is what happens with the shell game between Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton and Johan Backlund?
Ultimately, the Flyers wanted Backlund to back up Bobrovsky, but he was slow recovering from injury. With so much uncertainty, they signed Leighton as a bit ofa security blanket – for both Bobrovsky and Backlund – but he’s hurt now and won’t bee seen until December.
Which leaves Boucher.
Boucher will continue to serve as backup until Leighton and/or Backlund recover. Then it’s likely he’ll either be traded or waived.
If Bobrovsky proves the Flyers’ scouting and managerial brain trust correct, it leaves them in a good position of depth to have goalies to trade for what the team truly needs now – an influx in scoring on the wing.
If you assume Bobrovsky will be your goalie for years to come, then prospects like Nic Riopel and Adam Morrison as well as veterans like Leighton and Boucher all become tradeable commodities.
But, that’s not going to happen until close to the trade deadline – at the earliest.
Until then, enjoy the coming of age of “Bob” or “Bobyor” as he was known in Russia. What does that mean? In English, it’s “beaver,” so let’s just leave it to him.
Geoff Detweiler: It’s tough to judge because of Michael Leighton’s injury, especially after seeing how Ryan Parent recovered from the same surgery. So, if Leighton does in fact come back healthy and able to play, I imagine Brian Boucher gets waived. That really hurts to say, but I expect Bobrovsky to play well enough to stay with the big club. Where it gets interesting is next year when the Flyers will have Leighton, Backlund, and Bobrovsky. But that’s a whole other topic. So I expect this team to alternate Bobrovsky with whichever one of Boucher and Leighton are healthy before deciding Bobrovsky is the best option.
Nina G: As it always does, with a controversy. Seriously, I think this will be an interesting year between the pipes. Before the pre-season I was predicting Leighton would not be the starter come April and a new goalie would be acquired at the deadline. I stick by my Leighton prediction which is not exactly going out on a limb at this point, but I feel the Flyers will stick to the goaltending in house. I am cautiously optimistic about a Bobrovsky/Boucher duo, but I would not be surprised to see Backlund get in there at some point. I don’t think Leighton will win back his starting job, but could see them going with the dreaded 3 headed goalie monster at some point until they figure it out.