Where now, Mr. Emery?
A year ago, Ray Emery had just finished backstopping the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup final and was poised to reign as the team’s No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future.
Today, Emery is a man without a team – after being bought out and waived by the Sens – and his hockey future is up in the air. Of course, another NHL team will take a chance on him, hoping Emery has learned and matured after a 2007-08 season that was a gong show of off-ice stumbles.
After wrist surgery sidelined him for the start of the year, he did little besides distract once he returned to the ice – missing team meetings, showing up late for practice, fighting teammates in practice and exhibiting a generally lackluster attitude.
By season’s end, Emery had played a big part in the downfall of the Sens in the second half and in costing coach John Paddock his job. Ultimately, Ottawa management decided to wash its hands of the goalie.
It was a forgettable year for Emery, but he’s only 25 and has the talent and physical ability to be an NHL starter.
The only question is, where?
Here are nine teams, in alphabetical order, where Emery might fit:
Chicago – Nikolai Khabibulin can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and the up-and-coming Hawks will be looking for a goalie who can grow and develop with its young, talented team.
Colorado – If the Avs don’t re-sign Jose Theodore, they’ll be desperate for a No. 1.
Columbus – Pascal Leclaire had a breakout season (finally) and Fredrik Norrena has been solid in a support role, but neither are sure things. The Jackets might want some insurance. (I know what you’re thinking: “Ray Emery? Insurance? Not even close…”)
Detroit – Dominik Hasek has retired and Chris Osgood is 35. Plus, nobody’s better at reclamation projects than the Wings.
Los Angeles – The Kings have been looking for stability in goal since Kelly Hrudey left in the late ’90s. (I know what you’re thinking: “Ray Emery? Stability? Not even close…”)
Nashville – Right now, the Preds are going with Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne.
New Jersey – OK, Emery’s not going to beat out Martin Brodeur. But maybe a couple years of backing up the best will help him refocus, and then he can take over when Brodeur eventually retires. And if it doesn’t work out, it should provide a few juicy Ray Emery vs. Lou Lamoriello incidents.
Phoenix – Ilya Bryzgalov was great after the Coyotes picked him up on waivers this season; why not try again with Emery?
Tampa Bay – The Bolts have been a mess in net since winning the Cup – and then losing Khabibulin to free agency – in 2004.
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