Continuing on my comparison of some key Philadelphia sports positions comparisons, today I’m going to go over the 3 headed monster that is the Flyers goaltending situation.
With Michael Leighton recovering from his back injury, the Flyers came into the season with Brian Boucher and NHL rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky (further referred to as Bob) was not projected to even be a member of the Flyers roster for the 2010-2011 season. An NHL rookie, Bob played 2 seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). While his team finished at the bottom of the league both of his years there, his numbers were at the top of the league. Expected to battle for a spot on the AHL Phantoms, Bob is stealing the spotlight so far in the net for the Flyers.
Eligible to be drafted at 18, those familiar with bringing players over from Russia know the trouble it can be, with players often being drafted, and not wanting to log time in the AHL or sit behind starters, they often opt to head to the KHL, instead of playing for their NHL club or AHL affilliate, due to the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and Russia.
With that, bringing any player over from Russia can be a risk, but Bob is proving to be worth the risk for the Flyers. Outplaying Boucher to say the least, Bob is 6-2 so far as the starter for the Flyers. Flyers fans should know better than anyone that goalies can be streaky, and Bob is unlikely to keep this pace up, but I believe he’s already proven he at least deserves to deal with his ups and downs on the NHL level.
Brian Boucher, who already looks like he’s become the backup, and would be my candidate to move to the AHL once Leighton returns, assuming Leighton can get back on track. At 33, he is not the present or the future for the Flyers. A 1st round pick of Philadelphia in 1995, “Boosh” has never been a solid starter for any franchise. Boosh has never started more than 45 games in a season (Coyotes 02-03). He has a losing record for his career (102-123), a 2.71 GAA (Goals Allowed Average) and .900 save percentage. This is the final year of Boosh’s contract with the Flyers and I don’t see him returning.
Then there is Michael Leighton. Leighton is a journeyman, but really played his heart out once he came to Philadelphia in the middle of last season. So much that the Flyers offered him a 2 year, 3.1 million dollar extension. Leighton was the projected starter for this season, and when he’s on, he can be a stud. Leighton however has a tendency to let in very weak goals, many of which we saw last year in the Stanley Cup Finals. At 29, and with very few starts under his belt (34-40 NHL career record), Leighton can take over if Bob is shaky, make spot starts, or even be the starter if need be. However, with how Bob has come out of the gate, if he can maintain a pace that keeps the Flyers in the heat of the Eastern Conference, I think we can all be happy riding behind what we hope becomes the next in line of the incredibly rare “Flyers franchise goalie”.
In Bob We Trust.
(I know my records left out ties, overtime losses, and shootouts, but it just looked messy. But if you care to know:
Leighton: 34 wins, 40 losses, 10 ties, 4 overtime losses
Boucher: 102 wins, 123 losses, 30 ties, 11 overtime losses
Bobrovsky: 6 wins, 2 losses)