Nothing is official, and no one is commenting publicly.

But the Flyers' postseason strategy for improving their defense after a first-round playoff exit seems to be coming clear.

When reports of an imminent deal with former Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery are added to strong speculation that the Flyers have targeted Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, the strategy seems obvious.

The team may gamble that Emery has gotten past the growing pains he suffered in Ottawa, then stablize the defense in front of him with the addition of the talented Bouwmeester, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

All three of the organization's top goaltenders - Marty Biron, Antero Niittymaki, and the Phantoms' Scott Munroe - are free agents.

The club has been negotiating with Biron, but he is reportedly seeking a long-term deal and for more than the Flyers are prepared to pay. Calls to agent Gilles Lupien last night were not returned.

So the Flyers appear ready to go with Emery, at least for one season. reported yesterday that several of the general managers in Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup Finals say the deal for Emery is all but set.

"We have had internal discussions about many players and their potential availability, including Ray Emery," Flyers gemeral manager Paul Holmgren said last night in a statement released by the team. "I have spoken to his agent a few times about Ray as well. Any further discussion about this would be very premature."

Emery's agent, J.P. Barry, confirmed to that he has been talking to the Flyers but went only so far as to say he was "hopeful" a deal would get done.

Although he led the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals against Anaheim two years ago, Emery wore out his welcome in Ottawa. He had a series of run-ins with police and admitted on television he had been stopped by them about 30 times.

Whatever the reason, Ottawa bought out the final year of Emery's contract last June, and he played for Atlant Mytischi of the Kontinental Hockey League, a team located in Moscow, this past season.

Because he is a former NHL player, the 26-year-old cannot sign with another NHL team until July 1. He is on a two-year contract with Atlant Mytischi with permission to seek an NHL job between seasons.

The native of Hamilton, Ont., is 71-40-14 lifetime with a 2.71 goals-against average and eight shutouts in 134 NHL games.

Emery, never known to shy away from a fight, should appeal to longtime Flyers fans. He has been involved in on-ice fights since his days in junior hockey and has fought teammates in practice. He was suspended three games while with the AHL's Binghamton Senators in the 2003-04 season for bumping a referee.

On Feb. 10, 2007, Emery was suspended for three games by the NHL for striking Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre with his stick on his face after Lapierre crashed Emery's net.

Three days after completing the suspension, Emery fought Biron, then with the Buffalo Sabres, as part of a general melee.