Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is John Grahame the answer?

The Phantoms have signed former NHL goaltender John Grahame to a tryout contract, the Daily News has learned, as a possible backup to Brian Boucher in the absence of Ray Emery.

Is John Grahame the answer?

Goaltender John Grahame, seen here with the Hurricanes, could back up Brian Boucher until Ray Emery returns. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Goaltender John Grahame, seen here with the Hurricanes, could back up Brian Boucher until Ray Emery returns. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Since last season ended, goaltender John Grahame has played just about anywhere you or I could – in a local men’s league.

Pretty soon, he could be back in the National Hockey League – this time with the Flyers.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed to the Daily News on Saturday afternoon that Grahame, 34, signed a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the Adirondack Phantoms yesterday. He will be in uniform tonight for the Phantoms game in Glens Falls, N.Y., against Wilkes Barre-Scranton.

While Holmgren told assembled reporters on Saturday night in Newark, N.J., that the Flyers just expect Grahame to backup Nic Riopel in Adirondack, conventional wisdom suggests this move is more than that.

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The Flyers have been searching for a backup goalie with NHL experience for Brian Boucher, despite the fact that he has been playing well. The Flyers simply play too many games over this 6-week stretch (nearly 30) to let Boucher run the table.

Grahame presents a cheap, experienced and available option for the Flyers. Plus, they wouldn’t need to give up anyone. Looking to get back into the game, Grahame would likely take the league minimum to return to the NHL if asked.

The Montreal Canadiens are asking for a top six forward in exchange for backup Jaroslav Halak.

Want a deeper connection?

Grahame played for new Flyers coach Peter Laviolette in Carolina. In 2006-07, the year after the Canes won the Stanley Cup, Grahame had a 2.86 GAA and .897 save percentage in 28 games.

He tended goal last year for Omsk Avangard, with Jaromir Jagr, in the Russian Kontinental League. There, he posted a 2.86 GAA in 20 games. Avangard reportedly cancelled Grahame's contract on Dec. 9, 2008, citing a alcohol problems. The Russian media reported that Grahame appealed the decision but was denied.

Grahame told ESPN in January that the reports were "100-percent false."

Even though it’s been almost 20 months (Mar. 3, 2008) since Grahame played in the NHL, the Denver, Col., native has made 202 starts in the NHL over an eight-year career.

His name is etched on the Stanley Cup when he backed up Nikolai Khabibulin and the Tampa Bay Lightning to a title in 2004. He wouldn’t be a permanent answer, just a temporary fix until Emery can return.

At the very least, all of those things are far more than current backup Johan Backlund, who is in just his first pro season in North America, can say.

Daily News Staff Writer
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