Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Scott Burnside published a report that free agent goaltender Ray Emery will be coming to Blackhawks camp on a tryout basis. I think it's a tremendous idea.
In March 2010, when Emery was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, he was diagnosed with a hip condition called avascular necrosis. The injury required an elaborate surgery, and his future was unclear. He recovered, some say miraculously, in time to sign a one year deal with the Anaheim Ducks last February. He played his first game in March, and went 7-2 with a 2.28 GAA and a .928 save percentage, filling in for the injured Jonas Hiller, and leading the Ducks to the playoffs.
When healthy, Emery is a number one goalie, but many GMs are still leary of his hip problem, and have balked at signing him to a big financial commitment this offseason. If the Hawks decide they like him, they have until October 1st to sign him. If they don't, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
You may be asking, "What about Alexander Salak? Didn't he sign a one way deal with the Hawks this offseason?" Yes he did, and he's the backup right now. But if they like Emery, Salak could be sent down. A one way deal really only means "one salary." If Salak is demoted to Rockford, for any reason, his salary remains $625,000. Players with two way deals, like Ben Smith, have two salaries. Smith makes $580,000 in the NHL, or $65,000 in the AHL.
It's a no brainer to bring him in for a look. If they like him, they can sign him. If they don't sign him, Emery gets a few preseason starts under his belt, and gets some interest from other NHL teams. Brent Sopel had a similar experience in 2007. The Detroit Red Wings invited him to camp and let him play a few preseason games. The Hawks liked what they saw, and signed him.
Regardless of where Emery ends up, Hawks camp just got much more interesting.