Archive for June, 2008

Free Agency Rumors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 26, 2008 by flyersfan44

A few rumors have surfaced as the NHL prepares to begin its free agency period on July 1.  The Montreal Canadiens seem to be intent on adding the pieces they believe will bring the team to the next level.  They have already acquired forward Alex Tanguay in a trade and have gotten exclusive rights to negotiate with free agent Mats Sundin of Toronto until July 1.  I’m not sure how that happened, since it used to be called tampering, but nevertheless it should allow the Canadiens to lock up the center.  Montreal is also one of three teams along with the Flyers and Rangers in the running for San Jose defenseman Brian Campbell.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have extended an offer to Marian Hossa but he wants to test the free agent market.  Boston and Chicago are both after him although he could still end up re-signing with the Pens.  Forward Ryan Malone also wants to test free agency. 

Vinny Prospal is expected to sign with Tampa and defenseman Wade Redden is virtually certain not to re-sign with Ottawa.  The Flyers are supposedly interested in him as well, but I still think Mark Streit would be the way to go for the Flyers.  He had as many points as Campbell and currently makes less than half Campbell’s current salary.

Free Agency Begins July 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 24, 2008 by flyersfan44

There has been alot of speculation that the Flyers will seek to sign a free agent, puck-moving defenseman when the free agent market opens on July 1.  This has been identified as their most pressing need.  The salary cap poses some difficulty here but the trading of Vinny Prospal and RJ Umberger and the retirement of Sami Kapanen has freed up some salary money that should allow the Flyers to go after one good free agent.  The defensemen most often mentioned as possibly Philadelphia-bound are San Jose’s Brian Campbell (whom the Flyers tried to acquire at the trade deadline from Buffalo), Ottawa’s Wade Redden, and Montreal’s Mark Streit.  Redden may be too expensive and Campbell has several other teams after him, including the division rival Rangers (which may be all the more reason for the Flyers to go after him). 

Mark Streit may be the best value here.  He is a solid defenseman whose price tag would be lower than Redden’s or Campbell’s.  Another interesting factor to consider is that he is from Switzerland as is the Flyers’ first round draft pick in last week’s draft, Luca Sbisa.   Would the Flyers sign Streit with an eye toward him mentoring Sbisa a few years from now?  If the Flyers were to sign the less-costly Streit, this could allow them to pick up another good value free agent, perhaps a forward – there are several good ones that will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.  Below is my list of UFAs the Flyers may want to consider, beginning with defensemen.  Their ages, height and weight, and stats from last year (games played-goals-assists-points-salary) are also listed:

Wade Redden D (30) 6’2 209; 80-6-32-38; $6,500,000 (Ottawa)

Brian Campbell D (29) 6’0 191; 83-8-54-62; $1,750,000 (San Jose)

Mark Streit D (29) 6’0 197; 81-13-49-62; $600,000 (Montreal)

Sean Avery C (27) 5’10 195; 57-15-18-33; $1,900,000 (NY Rangers)

Josef Vasicek C (26) 6’5 214; 81-16-19-35; $750,000 (NY Islanders)

Ryan Malone LW (27) 6’4 224; 77-27-24-51; $1,450,000 (Pittsburgh)

Antti Miettinen LW (26) 6’0 190; 69-15-19-34; $885,000 (Dallas)

Radim Vrbata RW (26) 6’1 190; 76-27-29-56; $1,225,000 (Phoenix)

Teemu Selanne RW (37) 6’0 204; 26-12-11-23; $1,500,000 (Anaheim)

Streit, Malone, and Vrbata would be my top choices to go after considering value, production, and intangibles.   It should be an interesting free agency period.

Flyers Trade Umberger and Acquire Defensemen at the Draft

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 21, 2008 by flyersfan44

The 2008 NHL Entry Draft was held this weekend in Ottawa.  There was a great deal of activity among the teams with alot of trades, two of which involved the Flyers.  As rumored, center RJ Umberger was traded, but not for a puck-moving defenseman.  He was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with the Flyers’ fourth round pick for Columbus’ first-round pick (19th overall) and their third round pick.  The Flyers used the first round pick to draft Swiss defenseman Luca Sbisa from Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League.  Sbisa is an offensive-minded defenseman who had 33 points and was a plus-19 in 62 games this past season.  At 6’2 and 190 pounds, he will have the size to compete in the NHL and scounting reports indicate that he could be a power play quarterback. 

The Flyers then traded their own first round pick (27th overall) and their third round pick to Washington for defenseman Steve Eminger.  Although Eminger was a first round pick (12th overall) of the Caps in the 2002 draft, he never developed well in Washington.  At 6’2 and 212 pounds, Eminger has great size but is not the puck-carrying defenseman the Flyers need to acquire.  He did, however, play well against the Flyers in this year’s playoffs, so he may turn out to be a dependable, steady defenseman with the change of scenery. 

The trade of Umberger was unfortunately probably necessitated by salary cap numbers.  As a result of his strong playoffs, Umberger was undoubtedly asking for more than the Flyers could manage to pay while still signing a free agent, offensive defenseman that they are expected to pursue.  Since Umberger will be a restricted free agent in July (unless Columbus signs him before that) it was likely that he would have signed elsewhere.  In trading Umberger for a higher first round pick, the Flyers got an offensive defenseman for the future.  It remains to be seen, of, course, how the trade pans out since we won’t know until Sbisa develops and begins playing in the NHL.

With money from Umberger and the recently-traded Vinny Prospal freed up, let’s keep an eye on the free agent market beginning July 1.

Vinny Prospal Traded

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 19, 2008 by flyersfan44

On June 18, the Flyers traded the rights to forward Vaclav Prospal to Tampa, the team from which they acquired him in February.  The Flyers received Nashville’s seventh round pick in this year’s draft, which the Lightning had held.  An unrestricted free agent, Prospal had not indicated interest in re-signing with the Flyers and was expected to sign elsewhere.  If he signs with Tampa, the Flyers will also get Tampa’s fourth round draft pick next year. 

Although Prospal had briefly sparked Danny Briere’s line, he pretty much disappeared in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Since he wasn’t going to re-sign with the Flyers, GM Paul Holmgren did a good job of getting something for him instead of losing him for nothing once free agency opens on July 1.

Between the Pipes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 18, 2008 by flyersfan44

The Flyers’ signing of goaltender Martin Biron is already paying huge dividends.  He had a fantastic playoffs, especially in the Conference Semifinals where he stood on his head, enabling the Flyers to defeat the favored Montreal Canadiens.  It looks as though the Flyers finally have the goalie that can be depended upon in the playoffs and that can take them to the Cup.

This brings to mind some other great goalies the Flyers have had in their history.  First, the incredible Bernie Parent, who led the Flyers to back to back Cups in 1974 and 1975, would have to be tops on the list of great Flyers goalies.   Claimed from Boston in the 1967 expansion draft, Parent played with the Flyers until he was traded to Toronto during the 1970-71 season in a three-way deal that brought Rick MacLeish to the Flyers from the Bruins.   Unhappy in Toronto, Parent jumped to the newly-formed World Hockey Association, signing a huge contract with the Miami Screaming Eagles.  The Miami franchise never made it onto the ice in Florida however, moving to Philadelphia before the start of the inaugural season of 1972-73 and becoming known as the Blazers.  So, in a roundabout way, Parent had gotten back to Philadelphia.

After a contract dispute with the Blazers, Parent wanted to return to the NHL but made it clear he did not want to play for Toronto.  The Leafs, who still owned his NHL rights, traded him to Philadelphia in 1973.   Parent went on to play 70-some games for the Flyers during the 1973-74 season with a 1.89 goals against average, leading the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup over Boston, the team that initially drafted him.   Again Parent led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup in 1974-75.  He won the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in both those years.

Parent went on to play for the Flyers for the remainder of the decade, battling a series of injuries, until a freak accident ended his career in 1979.  Fighting for position in front of the net, Flyers’ defenseman Jimmy Watson’s stick accidentally swung back toward Parent and the tip of the blade went through the narrow eye opening in Parent’s mask, hitting his eye and damaging his sight.  This injury forced Parent to retire.

In the early 1980s, the Flyers drafted a young goalie from Sweden named Per-Erik Lindbergh.  After a couple years in the AHL, “Pelle” came to the Flyers and quickly showed that he had great skill at stopping the puck.  Bernie Parent was his idol and he emulated Parent right down to the same style of mask.  Parent tutored Lindbergh as the Flyers goalie coach during this time.  Lindbergh seemed poised to lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup in the mid-1980s.  However, Lindbergh was killed in a tragic car accident in November of 1985.  This stunned the entire organization and the city and was certainly one of the saddest moments the team has experienced.

 Pelle Lindbergh makes a save

Another great, and perhaps the most entertaining, Flyers goalie began his rookie season in 1987.  Ron Hextall was one of the most volatile goalies to ever play the game and his combativeness was the epitome of Flyers hockey.  He led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals in 1987 and although they lost to Edmonton, Hextall won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.  He also took the Vezina that year.  “Hexy” was eager to roam from his net and could handle and shoot the puck better than any goalie before or since.  He was the first goalie to score a goal by shooting the puck into the other team’s net.  He accomplished this rare feat twice, once in the playoffs.  The video below really captures the essence of Hextall’s game:

Flyers’ Greatest Playoff Goals

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by flyersfan44

The Stanley Cup Playoffs were exciting this year, especially as the Flyers had an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Finals.  This has gotten me to think about the greatest goals in Flyers playoff history.  So, here is my list of the Flyers’ best playoff goals:

#5: Keith Primeau’s goal in the fifth overtime of Game 4 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh.  The goal ended the longest game in Flyers history and gave the Flyers a 2-1 victory in the game and tying the series at two games each after the Flyers had dropped the first two games.  The Flyers rode on the momentum this goal fostered and won the series in six games.

Primeau celebrates his goal in the fifth overtime

#4: Defenseman J.J. Daigneault’s goal in the third period of Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton.  The goal, with just over five minutes remaining, gave the Flyers a 3-2 victory after they had trailed 2-1 in the third period and tied the series at three games apiece after the Flyers had been down three games to one.  Although the Flyers lost Game 7 in Edmonton, this goal is generally remembered as the time the Spectrum was the loudest during a Flyers game.

#3: Bob Kelly’s goal nine seconds into the third period of Game 6 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals against Buffalo, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead in a game they went on to win 2-0, gaining their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

#2: Rick MacLeish scored in the first period of Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals against Boston for the game’s only goal which stood up behind Bernie Parent’s stellar goaltending, giving the Flyers their first Stanley Cup.

#1: Bobby Clarke’s goal at 12:01 of overtime in Game 2 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals against Boston, giving the Flyers a 3-2 victory and tying the series at one game each.  It was this goal that proved that the Flyers could best the mighty Bruins, even on Boston’s ice, and that they had a real shot at winning the Cup.

Trade Rumors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 9, 2008 by flyersfan44

Trade rumors are fun except, I suppose, for the players whose names are mentioned.  Nevertheless, I came across a couple of rumors recently that are interesting and that may be plausible. 

A few weeks ago, I heard a rumor that had RJ Umberger going to Nashville for defenseman Ryan Suter.  This may have some credibility because it could be difficult for the Flyers to re-sign Umberger (a restricted free agent) for his asking price, which should be fairly high since he had a strong playoffs, along with the other free agents they need to sign (like Jeff Carter) and then have money to sign a puck-moving defenseman.  Suter is a young, offensive-minded defenseman who has really good potential.  He was a first round draft pick (7th overall) in 2003.  He had 31 points in 76 games last season. 

Yahoo Sports had another rumor involving Umberger or Scottie Upshall going to Ottawa for defenseman Andrej Mezaros.  Again, Umberger’s name surfaces as he is seen as a good commodity right now.  His trade value is pretty high.  Upshall had an up and down season, spending some time in coach John Stevens’ dog house.  He can play a great hitting game with lots of intensity but this sometimes leads to bad penalties.  Mezaros, like Suter, is an offensive-minded defenseman who put up similar numbers as Suter last season: 9 goals and 27 assists for 36 points in 82 games.  He was a first round draft pick (24th overall) in 2004.   He has some size at 6’2 and 218 pounds. 

I could see either of these happening although I suspect Ottawa would want more than just Upshall for Mezaros.  With Bryan Murray as the Senators GM and his brother as the Flyers assistant coach, there may be a connection there that could make this reality.  I would part with Umberger for Mezaros.  Although I really like RJ as a player, the Flyers are pretty strong at forward, especially if Gagne returns to form and Claude Giroux makes the team.  Mezaros is a young, solid defenseman who would look good on our power play.

The Flyers’ recent acquisition of minor-league defenseman Danny Syvret from the Oilers for minor-league forward Ryan Potulny may give indication of the Flyers’ understanding of their need for mobile, puck-moving defensemen.  Keep an eye on this rumor over the next couple of weeks.

Flyers New Third Jerseys

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 8, 2008 by flyersfan44

NHL teams will have the opportunity to add a third jersey next season in addition to their regular home and away jersey.  Supposedly, the Flyers’ design will be their orange 1970s jersey, even including the white nameplate which I believe was worn in 1975.  This is simply a great move.  The orange jersey will always be the quintessential Flyers’ jersey.  Although the black one looks sharp, it seems that everyone is wearing black.  The fans will love having the orange one back again.  In fact, I would suggest making the orange jersey the regular home jersey and having  the black one as the third jersey.  Anyway, here’s what the orange third jersey is supposed to look like:

This makes me think about which are the best and worst jersey designs in the NHL.  So, here goes: Maybe I am a traditionalist but I think that in spite of the cool, flashy designs of some teams, alot must be said for the classic jerseys that have stood the test of time.  So, I would have to rate near the top: Detroit and Chicago (both great logos) with the top spot in my opinion going to the Montreal Canadiens:


The worst color combination has to go to the Minnesota Wild. Although I really like the logo, green and red do not go well together:


The worst logo in my opinion belongs to the Ottawa Senators.  That cartoonish Roman Senator just doesn’t make it:


The worst overall jersey design, I think, belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes, simply because it is just boring:

Just one man’s opinion.  I’m sure there are many different arguments out there.

The Future for the Flyers

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2008 by flyersfan44

Looking ahead to next season, the Flyers have some decisions to make regarding how they intend to upgrade the team.  Although they had a fantastic and unexpected run deep into the playoffs, certain of their needs were exposed.  These will have to be addressed in order for the Flyers to continue to improve.

First, the Flyers must become quicker and more mobile on defense.  Too often, they had difficulty getting the puck out of their own zone.  Kimmo Timonen is excellent at this, Braydon Coburn carries the puck well, and Randy Jones had a great playoff presence.  However, Derian Hatcher’s knee issues, Jaroslav Modry’s age and immobility, and the effectiveness of Lasse Kukkonen are all concerns.  Additionally, Jason Smith is expected to sign elsewhere.  Ryan Parent has a great deal of potential and his play toward the end of the playoffs was encouraging.  Still, another quick, puck-moving defenseman is essential.  San Jose’s Brian Campbell, whom the Flyers tried to obtain in a trade from Buffalo at the deadline, is frequently mentioned as a possible free agent acquisition.  Keep an eye on Montreal’s Mark Streit as well.

At forward, things are complicated.  Restricted free agents Jeff Carter and RJ Umberger will need to be resigned.  However, even if the salary cap rises to the expected $56 million, will GM Paul Holmgren have enough space to sign the necessary mobile defenseman as well?  Will Simon Gagne be back from his concussion and will he regain his form?  There may need to be a trade of one or more forwards (Joffrey Lupul, Mike Knuble, Scottie Upshall, even Umberger are possibilities) to create some cap space.  Don’t expect to see Vaclav Prospal resigned and questions remain regarding Jim Dowd, Patrick Thoresen, and perhaps Steve Downie, who struggled in the playoffs.  This is where Holmgren’s acumen as  GM will be needed.  The Flyers came together as a team late in the season and playoffs and showed some real promise.  Moves made over the summer will need to keep the core intact, add the necessary pieces, and maintain the chemistry that developed.

On the bright side, prospect Claude Giroux tore up the Quebec junior league this season with 106 points in 55 regular season games and an incredible 51 points in 19 playoff games, leading the Gatineau Olympiques to the QMJHL championship.  Giroux was a first round draft pick of the Flyers (22nd overall) in 2006.  It is quite possible that he will make the roster next season.  How about a second French Connection line of Gagne – Briere – Giroux? Check out Giroux in a 3-on-3 skills competition:

Red Wings Stanley Cup Champions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 6, 2008 by flyersfan44

Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings for their Stanley Cup championship.  This is a truly great team that is amazing to watch.  With a great deal of talent from goaltender on out, the Red Wings play an excellent five-man system with everyone on the ice having a specific role in any given situation.  Their puck-support is superb – ever notice that they seem to have more players on the ice than their opponent?  Excellent positioning as well on both offense and defense.