KHL contract keeps Esche from NHL return

March, 23, 2010
3/23/10
9:03
PM ET

We can put to rest those rumors circulating that former Philadelphia Flyers netminder Robert Esche was going to rise from the dead (or in Esche's case, the Kontinental Hockey League) and lead the Flyers to glory in their moment of need.

Sources told ESPN.com the Flyers did express interest in the 32-year-old netminder, who has played the past two seasons in St. Petersburg of the KHL, but Esche's contract extends to the end of April. If Esche signed with the Flyers, he risked not being paid the balance owed to him by St. Petersburg even though the team's season is now finished.

Because he wasn't on the Flyers' roster before the trade deadline, even if Esche had been released from his KHL contract and signed with Philadelphia, he would have first had to pass through waivers and then would have been eligible only for regular-season games.

Still, with the Flyers' goaltending in a state of flux with Ray Emery and Michael Leighton out for the season with injuries and journeyman Brian Boucher now expected to handle the workload ahead of untested prospects Jeremy Duchesne and Johan Backlund, it's no surprise GM Paul Holmgren was turning over every rock to explore his options.

For the record, Esche turned in a stellar season in the KHL, posting a 29-7-5 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average, according to Hockeydb.com. Esche, who won a William Jennings Trophy with Philadelphia in 2002-03, is in the final year of his KHL contract and would like to return to the NHL next season. Because of that, a source said the opportunity to showcase his skills, even for a short time this NHL season, was attractive to him.

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