As the revolving carousel that is the NHL goaltending situation slows down, there are not many jobs openings left. Among those still looking for a gig is former Ottawa Senator Ray Emery. After recovering from what should have been a career-ending hip injury, he found a mid-season job with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, the Syracruse Crunch. He impressed on the farm, going 4-1 with a 1.98 GAA and .943 SP. Then Ducks starter Jonas Hiller got his head rattled, and Emery got the call to Anaheim. He shared the net with newly acquired Dan Ellis for the rest of the regular season, and Emery’s numbers were great. He went 7-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .926 SP, and he actually was the starter going into the playoffs. Emery went 2-3 in the postseason as the Ducks fell to the Predators in 6 games.
Emery was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverence and dedication to sport, but lost out to Ian Laperriere. However, at 28 years old, he should have a lot of hockey ahead of him. His injury seems to be behind him as are his attitude problems.
So with teams filling up their roster spots, where can Emery possibly still land?
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets lost Mathieu Garon to the Lightning, and signed former Habs farmhand Curtis Sanford. Are the Jackets confident enough in Sanford carrying the backup duties to anoint him to the position without any real competition? Steve Mason has had an up and down couple of years and may need to split more of the duties than most starters.
Chicago Blackhawks: Marty Turco lost the starting job to Corey Crawford last season, and lost himself a job period with his sub-standard play. The Hawks brought in former Panther Alexander Salak, but his lack of experience might land him in Rockford for some seasoning. An experienced backup and competitor for Crawford would provide insulation and push the young starter for playing time.
Dallas Stars: Kari Lehtonen is the incumbent starter, with Andrew Raycroft as the backup. Lehtonen has a history of injury troubles, but played 69 games last season. It that the exception to the rule, or are his injury problems behind him? Young Jack Campbell is waiting in the wings but I don’t think the Stars want to throw him to the wolves just yet.
The list is very short, and even the teams on that list are not in dire need of netminding help. Also, Emery isn’t the only goalie looking for work, as Chris Osgood and Marty Turco are two veterans among a number of goalies looking for very few jobs.
It appears as though Emery might have to latch on in the minors again and bide his time to get a chance back in the NHL. It might be too much to hope that he can “luck” into the same type of situation that he did last season. If the performance in Anahem wasn’t enough to get him full time NHL employment this season, obviously he still has some proving to do to the decision makers. I thought he showed enough to earn a shot.
He could go back to Europe for a season, but we know what happened last time he tried that experiment, it didn’t go well. Another option would be to wait and go to a camp without a contract, on a tryout basis. Any team that might be in the market for a depth goalie can invite him to training camp where he could earn a contract.
For Emery, the music is about to stop and there are very few chairs left.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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