As it stands right now, it appears that the Flyers are set to start the season with Michael Leighton as their starting goaltender.
Free agent goalie Marty Turco, who has been linked to the Flyers multiple times this summer, told CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio via a text message that he would have loved to play for the Flyers, but “it’s not happening.”
Turco is set to join the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on a one-year, $1.5 million contract after Antti Niemi was awarded $2.75 million in his arbitration case. The Blackhawks, who are in salary cap hell, are going to part ways with Niemi through either a sign-and-trade or simply by walking away.
Niemi had a tremendous rookie season for the Blackhawks en route to leading them to their first Stanley Cup victory since 1961, ending the second longest Cup drought in NHL history at 49 years.
The 26-year-old Niemi is now jobless as training camp looms about a month away, and with so few teams looking for a starting goalie, no one really has an idea where Niemi will be playing hockey in October.
Should the Flyers be interested in a sign-and-trade with Chicago or should they simply wait to see if the Hawks walk away to sign him as a free agent? It’s a possibility, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren has showed no signs that he’s looking for another goalie at this point in time. Holmgren’s plan in the offseason was to build an elite defense for his starter, which is Leighton, and has done that with the additions of Andreaj Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell and Matt Walker.
The Flyers signed Leighton to a two-year contract at the end of June, and since then the Flyers haven’t said or done anything to indicate that Leighton isn’t their No. 1 goalie for 2010.