Dreger: Goaltender Esche on Flyers' radar

Darren Dreger

6/12/2009 7:32:48 PM

Another bizarre twist in goaltending may soon unfold in Philadelphia.

Sources tell TSN former Flyers goaltender Robert Esche is on Philadelphia's radar and may be lured back from the Kontinental Hockey League where he was playing with SKA St.Petersburg.

Philadelphia is one of a few teams believed to be interested in Esche, who spent four seasons with the Flyers before moving to Russia following the 2006-2007 season.

Barry Smith, the head coach for SKA St.Petersburg confirms the NHL interest in Esche, but says he won't be able to let Esche out of his contract, which has one year remaining, unless he can find a suitable replacement in goal.

Esche, a Whitesboro, New York native, posted a 21-14 record, with a 1.87 goals against average and .912 save percentage, along with nine shutouts in his 2008-09 campaign in Russia.

A fifth round draft choice of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, Esche represented the United States at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and returned to Team USA in 2006 to represent his nation in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The KHL is slowly gaining traction with NHL teams who are starting to view the league as a development source, so it's possible the team Esche signs with could provide SKA St.Petersburg with a goaltender from within their system to encourage the move.

In a somewhat surprising move earlier this week, the Flyers announced the signing of goaltender Ray Emery to a one year, $1.5 million contract.

Emery also played in the KHL last season with Atlant Mytischi.