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How the Roster Is Shaping Up So Far

Can’t believe it has been almost a month since I posted on here. Went away a few times and have been busy working this summer, and there hasn’t been much in the way of news since my last post. I try to steer away from reporting straight-up news on here because there are plenty other sites that have press credentials and can report a lot quicker and more often than I can. I like to keep it about my thoughts and analysis on the state of the team, their moves, and things I think should happen. That being said, after the activity of the Flyers this off-season, I think it is safe to say that we’re in for a fun season. On paper this team may not seem as ready to succeed as last year, but I don’t think there will be a time where watching this team with young talent will be boring… and we should rarely see them not show up to games ready to play.

Not to shortchange the impact of Richards, Carter, Leino, Powe, and others last season, but the organization taking a new direction and with different faces and a new guy wearing the ‘C’, it should help keep the team motivated throughout the year. The Flyers seemed complacent last year after continuing their playoff success into the following regular season. The team remained largely un-changed sans the departure of Simon Gagne and the addition of Andrej Meszaros, and I think in the end it cost them the motivation required to play hard every night and work towards the ultimate goal.

If I were to pick lines right now without seeing anything in training camp, they would look something like this:
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5 Reasons to Miss Mike Richards

The shock is still wearing off on Philly fans after Thursday’s franchise-altering trades. While many fans were not surprised with the Carter trade to Columbus, captain Mike Richards was traded less than an hour later to the Los Angeles Kings. Being a big Richie fan and realizing that his t-shirt and jersey joins my Gagne one (and possibly my Carcillo shirt), it was a hard pill to swallow. Not to mention that I was receiving all this news on my phone because I was in the parking lot at the Susquehanna Bank Center (Tweeter/E-Center) hanging out with my fellow Parrotheads getting ready for a Jimmy Buffett concert. I was more shocked than anything, realizing that by trading BOTH Richards and Carter, the Flyers shipped their two first round picks from the 2003 draft that have been the makeup for the future of the franchise for years. However, as much as I liked Richards, I understand the move and we got a good return for the trade. LA gets a top-six center that can play anywhere and will love partying in their town (had to slip that in). We get a great prospect in Brayden Schenn, and some grit on our back end with Wayne Simmonds likely filling a 3rd line role this upcoming season.

Jeff Carter’s trade brought a good return too, with Voracek filling a much needed void at winger and getting the 8th overall pick to draft a good two-way center. Even with the result of the trade, I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. I was looking forward to seeing Richie captain a few Cups during his time here. I had visions of a grizzled Mike Richards in his early to mid-30s with salt and pepper in his playoff beard laying hits and scoring shorthanded goals to win a Stanley Cup. It sucks, but things happen when you get swept in the playoffs after expectations are high. While there are plenty of reasons to miss Mike Richards when hockey rolls around next fall, with the help of my memory and Youtube, here are my top five.
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Trade(s) Coming This Week?

Ilya Bryzgalov visited Philadelphia last week and created a twitter account, tweeting in both Russian and English with hints of good news coming soon. What does this mean for Flyers fans? Hopefully, it means that Holmgren’s meeting with Bryzgalov and his agent Rich Winter went well, and their plans to get back in touch this week will solidify a contract that both sides will be happy with. With the NHL Draft coming up this Friday, the Flyers are expected to make a splash in the trade market. The cap is expected to go up to between $63 and $64 million, so that helps the Flyers in being able to sign Bryzgalov by making some minor demotions to the NHL and using the waiver wire. However, I still think a trade will be coming, small or large so RFAs Powe and/or Nodl can be re-signed, as well as Ville Leino.

I added a new poll on the right on who you’d rather see traded this off-season. The names haven’t changed, and there won’t be much to analyze or talk about until the Flyers make a move. If a trade is announced, you know that the news of Bryzgalov’s contract shortly follows that news, and vice-versa. As it stands now, the Flyers don’t have a pick in this year’s draft until the 3rd round. But we’ll see what happens. I’ll be back with analysis and updates on anything that goes down. Bryzgalov and Winter should be in talks again with Holmgren tomorrow, so expect progress as early as tomorrow afternoon and as late as Friday. Should be a fun week.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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Bryzgalov’s Rights: Where to Go From Here?

Yesterday evening twitter feeds and hockey blogs blew up with the news the the Flyers had traded Matt Clackson, a 3rd round pick, and a conditional pick (Holmgren confirmed not a 1st or 2nd) to the Phoenix Coyotes for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights in hopes of getting him signed before free agency on July 1st. As Flyers fans, we’ve been speculating since our untimely exit from the playoffs on the Flyers motives for addressing our goaltending issue. This move comes as good news to most Flyers fans who hoped for a goalie to mentor Bob and be ready to win now. But it also comes up as a problem due to our salary cap situation, so how are we going to do this?
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Testing the Waters: Why the Flyers Will (probably) Not Sign Leino or Bryzgalov

Before I begin, keep in mind that I am a Leino fan and would like him to return the Flyers, but not if they overpay him. I’d also love to see Bryzgalov get a shot over here and bring his talents to our team so close to a championship. But with the salary cap and the market, in my opinion there’s a chance they will not be here next year. And here’s why.

Ville Leino will be 28 at the start of next season, and Ilya Bryzgalov will turn 31 by the time free-agency on July 1st rolls around. Why won’t the Flyers sign them? Simply because they both are set up to be paid big in this contract. Three years from now, neither of them will be able to command as much money or as many years as they can now. Ville Leino has been trying to strike the NHL for years, and finally got his shot to show his stuff last year in the playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov has been the best player on the Coyotes for years now, and he wants to get paid and win some games before he’s too old to do so. It only makes sense that these guys are going to go after bigger contracts with more financial security.

Ville Leino wants to stay in Philadelphia, we all know that. He has good chemistry with his linemates, and he fits in a lot better here than he did in Detroit. But how much will that affect his decision making when he could easy make $3.5 million in another city that has money to splurge? (New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Unknowns, Florida Panthers, etc.) As I’ve said in previous posts, I want Leino to stay. Quality wingers are in short supply in our franchise, and he is a great forward with some nice moves and strength on the puck. But if he asks for more than $3 million, I expect the Flyers to let him walk. We have to sign JVR next year to a new contract, and if next season is anything like his performance down the stretch this past season, he’s going to deserve a substantial raise.

Ilya Bryzgalov has been rumored to liking Philadelphia as a possible destination for his next job, but at what price? He might be willing to take a smaller salary to play for a contending hockey club, but I can’t see him willing to get too underpaid on what should be his last big pay day. If the Flyers do want to sign him, it would be upwards of $5-$6 million. They have to trade some salary away (Versteeg, Carle, maybe Carter, etc.) in order to be salary cap compliant for the year, and they arguably still have a void or two to fill on defense or forward.

July 1st is about a month away, and it will be very hard to figure out what Holmgren will do. He always seems to get creative around this time, maybe he can trade Leino’s rights at the draft if they can’t reach an agreement with him? Will they trade one of their core forwards? It’s going to be a very exciting early July this year, I hope we get what we need… as long as the price is right.

 
 

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Flyers’ Forwards: Team Toughness, Leino, Carter, Versteeg, etc.

Another big part of the Flyers’ off-season will be the re-signing of their forwards. Ville Leino, Dan Carcillo, Darroll Powe, Nikolai Zherdev, and Andreas Nodl will all be free-agents on July 1st, and the Flyers don’t have the cap space to accommodate all of them. Not all of them will be re-signed, especially with guys like Wellwood, Rinaldo, and Holmstrom hoping to crack the Flyers line-up during training camp. The forwards this year were arguably as deep as any other team, but they lacked execution during the second half of the season and could not seem to fully sync for more than a game at a time in the playoffs. There are a lot of options this off-season to fix the team, and many overlook the play of our forwards because of the goalie situation this playoff. But there definitely was something missing from our forward corps this season, so how can they fix it?
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The Defense

The Flyers defense was outstanding in the regular season. For most of it, their bottom pairing of Meszaros-O’Donnell led the league in plus-minus and helped shorten the minutes of Timonen and Pronger (when he played) after their heavy workload in 2009-2010. The Flyers head into this off-season with Timonen and Pronger needing the off-season to rehabilitate their injuries sustained during this season, and hopefully they’ll be 100% ready when next season starts. Meszaros, Carle, and Coburn are all locked up for next year at least, even though the potential for one of them to be moved is still there for cap reasons. O’Donnell did an admirable job for us, but I don’t see the Flyers re-signing him on July 1st. Same with Boynton, who was an insurance policy at the end of the year.

Matt Walker is buried in the minors, and I think he’ll stay there because of his $1.7 million cap hit when they could have AHL standouts Danny Syvret or Erik Gustafsson fill his spot. If the Flyers were to move on of their top defenders (probably Carle), then maybe they would sign a cheap free-agent or move Walker up to help the third pairing. Another thing we might be forgetting is that Oskars Bartulis has come a long way since he entered our organization, and should be ready to go this year after sustaining a season-ending injury late in the year. Bartulis and Syvret are likely the best candidates to fill the void left by O’Donnell, but will there be veteran to pair with them if Timonen and Pronger are not able to go come the start of the season? If the rosters stay the same, my pairings would be something like this:

Pronger-Timonen
Coburn-Meszaros
Carle-Bartulis/Syvret

I could also see switching Meszaros and Timonen and re-uniting Coburn and Timonen. But I really like the idea of a strong veteran pair and a physical mid-aged pair with great skating. That’s probably all fantasy though, because they’ll likely split Timonen and Pronger up. Syvret has more offensive skill than Bartulis while Bartulis has a slight height advantage. I personally haven’t seen enough of either to figure out which one works better, but I have always stood by the thought that Bartulis will be a solid 3rd pairing guy for us in the coming years. In my mind, Meszaros and Coburn are the mesh of our defensive corps and will become anchors when Timonen and Pronger are long gone. Of course, we will need some prospects like Bourdon, Hostetter, or Gustafsson to pan out, and probably some free-agent signings/trades. But that’s in the future. Timonen for another two seasons, Pronger is locked up for a while, and we have Coburn and Carle for next year. Meszaros has three years remaining on his contract, so our core is in place if everyone places to their potential and remains healthy.

As far as ability, it’s there. A few tweaks to fix our third pairing, limiting injuries, and execution should all equal another strong year defensively for us. If the goaltending issue is addressed, our defenders should even be stronger with more faith in a proven, new goaltender that can make timely saves to bail them out if need be.

 
 

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