Roberto Luongo

Five Flyers goalie options, post-Bryzgalov (Updated)


You all know the news by now — the Philadelphia Flyers will use a compliance buyout on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

It could be that management already has a plan in place to address the starting goaltending for next season, so don’t be surprised if there’s more to this story soon.

But here are five potential options, for discussion’s sake:

Roberto Luongo

Another big contract with lots of years left, but the Flyers have the pockets to take it on, and let’s be honest, they aren’t exactly risk averse. Luongo’s cap hit is $5.3 million, which could be problematic. But let’s say room can be found — at this point, the Canucks can’t expect much in return for the 34-year-old, so for Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren, it could mean getting a goalie with tons of big-game experience for not much more than the willingness to roll the dice.

Update: 2:30 p.m. ET

So much for that.

Ray Emery

A pending unrestricted free agent, Emery went a remarkable 17-1-0 (.922 save percentage) with the Blackhawks during the regular season. There’s still significant risk attached to the 30-year-old, however, as Emery hasn’t been a full-time starter in the NHL since undergoing surgery for avascular necrosis in 2010.

Ryan Miller

A potential trade candidate out of Buffalo, the 32-year-old has one year remaining on his contract, with a $6.25 million cap hit. Miller has been good, but not elite-level, the past three seasons for the Sabres. In 2013, he went 17-17-5 with a .915 save percentage.

Mike Smith

A pending unrestricted free agent, Smith is in line for a good-sized payday. Whether Holmgren would have the appetite to sign another goalie out of Phoenix remains to be seen. Have Smith’s numbers been inflated playing behind a defense-first system? Certainly a few thought that was the case with Bryzgalov. It’s possible Smith ends up re-signing with the Coyotes anyway.

Steve Mason

For the moment, he’s number one on the Flyers’ depth chart. The 25-year-old had his struggles in Columbus, and former Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson may not recommend betting on the former rookie of the year to regain his form. But Mason was good in six starts for the Flyers, posting four wins and allowing just 12 goals combined.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado