Yesterday in Denver, more than halfway across the country, the Avalanche welcomed goaltender Semyon Varlamov to Colorado with a news conference.
Varlamov just as easily could have been Sergei Bobrovsky.
According to sources, the Flyers began to shop Bobrovsky - the man they called "the goaltender of the future" as recently as May - to all suitors once they struck a 9-year deal with Ilya Bryzgalov on June 23.
General manager Paul Holmgren vehemently denied it when asked whether Bobrovsky had been involved in trade talks.
The Flyers, though, couldn't get the exact asking price they hoped for when shopping Bobrovsky's services on the open market. Varlamov, a fellow Russian only 5 months older than Bobrovsky, netted Washington a first- and second-round pick in a July 1 trade.
It's plain to see that Bobrovsky - without the first-round pedigree and nearly 3 full years' worth of experience in North America - would not garner as much as Varlamov on the market. The Flyers would have pulled the trigger at that price.
Then again, it isn't every day that 22-year-old goaltenders are able to make a starting impact in the NHL. Bobrovsky played 54 regular-season games for the Flyers last season as a rookie. Varlamov has only 59 regular-season games under his belt over parts of three seasons.
While rosters have begun to fill out since free agency commenced on July 1, just because Bobrovsky is here now does not mean he will remain the Flyers' backup come Opening Night on Oct. 6.
The Flyers will continue to look to move him if the price is right. Bobrovsky, with a $1.75 million salary next season, will become the second-highest paid backup in the NHL on a team that usually spends to the limit.
Bryzgalov, who hasn't played fewer than 65 games in each of the last three seasons, is a workhorse. While few say Bryzgalov would be a bad mentor for his fellow Russian, Bobrovsky would be cut from 60 appearances last season (including playoffs) to nearly 20 next season. Few experts would go out on a limb and say that would not stunt Bobrovsky's development.
It's not as if Bobrovsky, who would be 31 at the end of Bryzgalov's deal, will be waiting in the wings for the term of Bryzgalov's contract as the supposed "goaltender of the future."
Starting in October, Bobrovsky will need to clear waivers to get in more work with the Phantoms - something he won't do without being claimed.
The Flyers' goaltending situation got a little murkier yesterday when they signed free agent Jason Bacashihua, a former first-round pick, to a 1-year contract. The Flyers had not announcedthe deal last night, which was circulated in an NHL Players Association memo as being worth the minimum $525,000 in the NHL and $125,000 in the minors.
While Bacashihua, 28, has 38 games of NHL experience on his resumé, he is a longshot to see any time in a Flyers uniform - short of another Year of the Seven Goalies.
In front of him on the depth chart are Bryzgalov, Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton and Johan Backlund. The final year of Leighton's $1.55 million salary can be stashed in Adirondack, off the salary cap, as it was for the bulk of last season. This season, however, Backlund's contract converts to a one-way NHL deal worth $800,000.
Between the Flyers and Phantoms, only four roster spots are available - two starters and two backups. That means one of those five goaltenders will be without a spot. Or if you're putting two and two together, one of them will be dealt before the season.
It's important to keep in mind that the Flyers are not unwilling to go into the season with Bobrovsky on their roster. To think that Holmgren will move Bobrovsky without a solid return is foolish. It would be better to keep him than to give him away.
Besides, the Flyers will have a T-shirt bonanza next season if their duo is Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky. It will be the Flyers' version of the old hammer and sickle Communist logo.
Even 35 years after pounding the Soviet Red Army team, who would have seen that coming?
It took 2 weeks, but the Flyers were finally able to re-sign restricted free-agent forward Wayne Simmonds to a 2-year deal yesterday. The extension is worth $3.5 million, with a $1.75 million salary-cap hit per season.
Simmonds, 22, netted 14 goals and 16 assists for Los Angeles last season. He was acquired in last month's trade for Mike Richards.
The Flyers also signed draft pick Tye McGinn to a 3-year, entry-level deal. McGinn, one of the prospects involved in this week's camp, was a fourth-round pick in 2010 . . . The Flyers will hold their annual Trial on the Isle today in Stone Harbor, N.J., beginning with a bike race at 9th Street and 2nd Avenue at 9 a.m. and concluding with an autograph session and softball game in the afternoon. *
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at