The Goaltending market appears to be evaporating before the Flyers' eyes. Veteran Mike Smith inked a 6-year extension with the Phoenix, er, Bettman Coyotes yesterday to avoid hitting the free-agent market on Friday. Nik Backstrom re-signed in Minnesota for $10.25 million last week. Vancouver shipped Cory Schneider to New Jersey as Martin Brodeur's heir apparent, leaving buyout target Roberto Luongo as the Canucks' starter. And two more netminders high on the Flyers' list might not work out, either.

There's a very good chance Ray Emery, who many believe is the Flyers' No. 1 choice to work in tandem with Steve Mason next season, will soon re-sign with the Cup-champion Blackhawks to avoid hitting the market. Emery's agent, J.P. Barry, met with the Blackhawks on Sunday night after the draft to discuss Emery. Terms of a deal had not been agreed upon yesterday, but the two sides are pretty confident that Emery can remain Corey Crawford's backup next season. Teams can begin negotiating with free agents beginning tomorrow at noon. Contracts are not allowed to be signed until Friday at noon, when free agency officially opens. Emery, 30, was an astounding 17-1-0 with Chicago. The common thinking was that he'd be more interested in a raise from the $1.5 million he earned last season to compete for a starting job elsewhere. Apparently, capturing the Stanley Cup while playing a significant share of the games is enough to stay. Flyers management is now operating under the assumption that Emery will re-sign. So, with Emery crossed off the list, some believe the next likely target is free agent Tim Thomas, the 39-year-old former Cup winner who took last season off. Thomas spent the year with his family.