For Ray Emery, being signed as a free agent by the Flyers means a new start in the NHL.

For Marty Biron, it likely would mean having to find a new team.

But that is apparently the way the Flyers are headed. According to sources and Emery's agent, J.P. Barry, the Flyers have been negotiating a deal with the 26-year-old goalie who spent last season playing in Russia.

Emery, who was drafted by Ottawa in 2001 and then spent five seasons there, leading the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007, had issues on and off the ice, including run-ins with the Ottawa police and much-publicized problems with his team.

While in Russia, Emery posted a 22-8 record with a 2.12 goals-against average for Atlant Moscow. But he reportedly was involved in an altercation with a team trainer and also left the club briefly over a contract dispute.

That apparently is all behind him now, and the Flyers, who reportedly have been checking with people who know Emery, have decided he is worth taking a chance on.

"Ray has come a long way in his life," Barry said. "He had some bumps in the road in Ottawa, but he has taken responsibility for those, and I have to think Ray has grown since then, even in his relationship with me."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren declined to comment on the negotiations. The Flyers can't sign Emery until the free-agent market opens on July 1.

"We are having internal discussions on a lot of things," Holmgren said. "Ray Emery is one of them. I'm not going to comment on our internal discussions."

Barry, however, said the Flyers have been talking with him about Emery for a while and he believes they are close to a deal with the unrestricted free agent.

"It's not done yet, but we've been talking for several weeks now with Paul Holmgren and he's done due diligence and has been talking with people who played with Ray," Barry said.

Signing a goalie is a top priority for the Flyers. Both Biron and backup Antero Niittymaki are unrestricted free agents.

Both have stated that they want to return to the Flyers, but Biron is seeking a long-term deal apparently worth more than the Flyers want to give him.

With other contracts to deal with and upgrades needed on defense, signing Emery more than likely means the end of Biron, who has been the Flyers' starter for the last two seasons.

There is only so much the Flyers can do and stay under the league salary cap.

"If they do something with someone else, I'm not involved in that," Biron said yesterday. "I'm just going to focus on what I need to do to get myself where I want to be.

"I want to be here, but if that doesn't work out, I'll move on. Up until they do something like that, we'll continue to try and work it out. I understand the business of hockey and the business of the salary cap.''

Biron has said since the end of the season that he wants a long-term contract; he wanted one when he was first traded to the Flyers from Buffalo in the spring 2007, when the Flyers were wrapping up the worst season in franchise history. At that time, he signed a 2-year pact worth $7 million.

Biron has been the starter ever since, helping the team reach the Eastern Conference finals in his first full year and then the first round of the playoffs this past season.

But prior to coming to the Flyers he was a backup to Ryan Miller and had no playoff experience.

"Two years ago I wanted a bit of a longer deal but coming out of the lockout and having been a backup to Miller I hadn't played a substantial amount of games," Biron said. "Now I'm definitely looking for something long term."

That stance, and the fact that the Flyers were eliminated in the first round by Pittsburgh, drew the Flyers' attention to Emery, who was a catalyst to the Senators' Stanley Cup final run.

However, the next season Emery lived a party lifestyle, got pulled over for speeding by the Ottawa police, missed team practices and planes and reportedly had fights with teammates in the locker room.

His contract was bought out by the Senators and he played last season in Russia.

"He had some problems there, problems with scheduling, with maturity and he's taken responsibility for that," Barry said. "He went to Russia and was an excellent goalie and he's grown a lot."

According to league sources and Barry, there has been a substantial amount of interest from other teams in Emery, but the Flyers are the team he wants to play for.

"This is a perfect situation for Ray," Barry said. "We've had calls from other teams, but this is the best situation for him. He likes a team that has a bite and plays with an edge, and the Flyers have that." *