Ray Emery’s agent confirmed that the Ducks are one of “three or four” teams with interest in the goaltender, who is attempting to come back from a potentially career-threatening hip injury.
“I’ve had really good discussions with the Ducks,” J.P. Barry said Thursday. “I’ve been reaching out to teams because I feel that Ray’s ready.”
Emery has not played since his last game with the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 1, 2010. He was shut down for the season after being diagnosed with avascular necrosis, a condition in which bone cells die due to a lack of blood supply. The 28-year-old goalie underwent surgery to graft a bone from his lower leg into his hip and has been aggressively rehabilitating since.
Just how ready is Emery to return?
“I think if we put Ray on a team Monday, he could play Friday,” Barry said.
The Ducks have starter Jonas Hiller and backup Curtis McElhinney on one-way NHL contracts – Hiller through 2014, McElhinney through the end of the season – and no reason to displace either for a goalie who hasn’t played a game in a year.
Barry didn’t rule out Emery signing a two-way contract. The Ducks don’t have a prototypical “third goalie” with NHL experience playing for Syracuse, their American Hockey League affiliate, so that seems like the most likely possibility if the Ducks feel there’s a match.
Emery has been working out with a trainer in Toronto – cross-training in such activities as yoga, swimming and ballet, Barry said – as well as taking shots in practice with the Ontario Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion. Retired sniper Eric Lindros has been among the shooters using Emery as target practice.
The primary health concern with Emery isn’t a recurrence of the avascular necrosis in his hip, Barry said, but rather the goalie’s ability to adapt to his new bone structure: “He’s in the best shape of his life outside of his bone structure. His bone feels different,” Barry said.
By all accounts, Emery was a model citizen during his brief stay with the Flyers. He spent all of the 2008-09 season in the KHL, but that followed a tumultuous end to his six-year career with the Ottawa Senators, the team that drafted Emery in 2001.
A Jan. 2008 report in the Montreal Gazette alleges that Emery’s misdeeds were as wide-ranging as “traffic violations, a missed flight during the 2007 playoffs, temper tantrums, tardiness and dismal work ethic.” He was also suspended three games by the NHL in Feb. 2007 for swinging his stick and hitting then-Montreal Canadien Maxim Lapierre in the face. So they would have that to talk about.
On the ice, Emery has an 87-51-15 record in 163 career regular-season starts, a 2.70 GAA and .907 save percentage. In 30 career playoff games – including Ottawa’s run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals against the Ducks – Emery is 18-12 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.