NEWARK, N.J. – Before a flake of snow could accumulate on the ground in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, the internet was brimming with a flurry of Flyers rumors.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t about Ray Emery and his injury concerns.
Rather, it was about another goaltender: the Dallas Stars’ Marty Turco, who quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.
Turco officially became expendable by the Stars on Tuesday when they acquired Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round pick. The deal was finalized late Tuesday night.
Turco’s name, though, has been connected with the Flyers in the rumor mill for weeks.
Rogers Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos was the first to report on Tuesday that the Flyers are at the top of the list for Turco, helping fuel the frenzy.
That potential move could be interesting, given Ray Emery’s current health situation and Michael Leighton’s experience in the NHL playoffs – coupled with the fact that Turco will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1.
But here’s why Turco coming to Philadelphia is more than a long shot:
1. Salary - Turco’s cap hit is $5.7 million. That means the Flyers would need to sacrifice about $5.2 million in salary in a trade with the Stars just to fit him under the cap this season.
To recap, the Flyers’ list of no-trade or no-movement clauses: Simon Gagne, Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen.
2. Playoff history: Is Marty Turco the goaltender that the Flyers think will put them over the top? Turco holds a bunch of Stars records (wins, shutouts, games played) and a modern NHL record (1.72 GAA in a season, 2002-03) but his success has never converted to the playoffs. Since Turco became Dallas’ full-time starter in 2002-03, the Stars have gone to the playoffs every year but one. Those trips have included four first round exits and one trip the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Flyers went that far with Marty Biron in 2007-08. He walked as a free agent last July.
3. The short-term: Do the Flyers want to sacrifice a potential impact player for their playoff run in order to acquire Turco, who wouldn’t be guaranteed to be Flyers’ property come 2010-11?
That’s the same dilemma this franchise faced when weighing Ilya Kovalchuk.
4. The long-term: If the Flyers do acquire Turco, is he definitely the Flyers’ long-term solution? A change in scenery may do Turco some good. While his stats have never been horrible, this season hasn’t been his best in Dallas.
But if the Flyers trade a decent piece or two to acquire him – and are willing to lock him up for a few years – they need to be sure he is the right piece.
It’s important to keep in mind that Turco turns 35 in August when thinking long-term.
Chew on this: Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is on the record last week, saying the Flyers don’t have any interest in Turco. Then again, Holmgren insisted the Flyers didn’t have any interest in Kovalchuk.
We know he was involved in some way in those trades talks. How much? We’ll never know.
The same applies for this situation. But I’d bet Holmgren will be on the horn with Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk at some point on Wednesday just to check in.
For now, Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that “it’s still [Turco’s] net” and he will stick with three goalies for now.
Nieuwendyk’s hand was forced, really, as Lehtonen was the only young and unproven goaltender that was available for a reasonable price. The Stars were set to enter the offseason with four goalies as unrestricted free agents.
Just three points out of a playoff spot, is Lehtonen – who hasn’t played a game this season – the Stars’ goalie for their playoff push? That’s not the Flyers’ problem. But if he isn’t, will the Stars hang on to Turco and let him walk in July?
Before push can come to shove, Holmgren needs to make a few decisions:
-Does Emery require surgery on his hip? If so, does he need it now or can he finish the season? Not fully healthy, does he give the Flyers their best chance to win?
-Is Emery the Flyers’ goaltender of the future?
-Does Emery’s health have any impact on whether the Flyers would be interested in Turco?
The heat is on: the NHL roster freeze sets in on Friday night at midnight and lasts until Feb. 28 – when the Olympics end. After that, Holmgren will have just four days to talk shop until the NHL’s trade deadline on March 3 at 3 p.m.
The clock is ticking.
For an update on any possible weather-related changes to the Flyers’ game in New Jersey on Wednesday night, stay tuned to Frequent Flyers and Frank Seravalli’s Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.