Archive for Luca Sbisa

Where Have You Gone, Luca Sbisa?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 29, 2009 by flyersfan44

OK, he’s not in Lethbridge, Alberta playing junior hockey, he’s not at the Spectrum with the Phantoms, and he’s not playing for the Flyers, either.  Defenseman Luca Sbisa has been a healthy scratch in four straight games and eight of the last 14.  This puzzles me greatly because coach John Stevens has said that he needs to be playing.  Yet, he continues to scratch him and he’s not being sent back to juniors.  The Flyers don’t seem to know what to do with him right now.  I think he has played very well – some rookie mistakes, yes – but certainly well enough to be in the six man rotation.  I thought the plan when Randy Jones came back was to rotate scratches among Alberts, Kukkonen, and Sbisa.  Now it just seems that Sbisa is sitting.  There was talk of Sbisa going back to juniors when Briere returned from injury, but Danny’s hurt again so Luca stays on the roster but off the ice.  This apparent confusion on the Flyers’ part doesn’t make sense to me and certainly is not helping his development.  He’s proven he can play well in the NHL, so play him.  He’s earned the spot!

Logjam at Defense: Problem or Blessing?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2008 by flyersfan44

After some early-season difficulty, the Flyers’ defense is looking pretty good right now.  Regular pairings are established and the blueliners appear comfortable with each other.  Braydon Coburn – Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen – Ossi Vaananen, and Luca Sbisa – Andrew Alberts are the regular pairings.  Laase Kukkonen is playing much better than earlier this season and is a reliable fill-in.  The potential difficulty is now that Randy Jones is ready to return from a training camp injury, who sits to make room?  On top of that, his $2.5 million salary will put a salary cap squeeze on the Flyers when Danny Briere returns from his injury.  To complicate things more, injured defenseman Ryan Parent will be returning after Christmas.  That would give the Flyers nine NHL-calibre defensemen.  Too many to carry.  Kukkonen, who cleared waivers earlier this year, would have to go through waivers again in order to be sent down.  Since he is playing better now, he may not clear waivers a second time.  Looks like at least one of the rearguards will need to be traded.  Kukkonen and/or Alberts figure to be the odd men out. That’s too bad, because the team is coming together really well and you hate to change pieces when things are going good.  It would be great if the Flyers could find a way to hold onto all these guys, especially since injuries are always a danger and nine capable defensemen in the system would be a blessing, especially come playoff time.  Remember when Timonen and Coburn both went down with injuries last spring?

Uh-Oh, 2 and 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 15, 2008 by flyersfan44

The season has not gotten off to a very good start for the Flyers as they are 0-2-1 in their first three games.  The main concern seems to be that they have not put together a full sixty minutes of solid effort.  In the opener against the Rangers (who, incidentally, are 5-0; how did that happen?), the Flyers were nowhere to be found in the first period and surrendered four goals.  They played well in the second and third, but came up one short of the tying goal.  Against the Canadiens, they played well in the first and second and carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, then allowed four goals in a 5-3 loss.  Playing the Penguins last night, the Flyers had difficulty converting chances, but played pretty well defensively and took the game to overtime, where they lost with ten seconds remaining. 

Defense looks like it could present some trouble.  With regulars Ryan Parent and Randy Jones on the injured list for several months, new acquisitions Ossi Vaananen, Steve Eminger, and 18 year-old Luca Sbisa will need to play very well.  Sbisa is a surprise and the Flyers may need to keep him on the roster for the season with the injury situation.  After nine games, he can go back to juniors; if he plays ten games, he must stay with the Flyers for the season.  I think he has played very well in all three games, showing poise under pressure, playing the power play, and moving the puck well.  Lasse Kukkonen, beaten more than a couple times in the opening games, may have lost his regular spot as the Flyers acquired Andrew Alberts from Boston.  Alberts (6’5; 220) replaced Kukkonen in the lineup against Pittsburgh.  I’m not sure he’s going to be much better as he took a couple of hooking penalties, perhaps a sign that he’s getting beaten on plays.

With so many new faces on defense (and some up front, too) they may just need some time to gel, so I am not pushing the panic button yet.  However, they will need to get in the win column soon, as the Rangers are already nine points ahead (although they have played two more games) and we know how fragile this team’s confidence can be.  We don’t need a long losing streak to start the season.

Camp’s Over; Opening Roster Set

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

Training Camp has ended and opening night is only two days away.  The opening of a new hockey season is always full of anticipation – how will we do this year; is this the year we finally win it all? 

Some of the questions going into this year’s camp have been answered (at least for the time being): Claude Giroux did not have a great camp and as a result was sent to the Phantoms.  Perhaps he’ll be called up and get another opportunity to stick with the parent club. 

New defensemen Steve Eminger and Ossi Vaananen performed well in the pre-season and look like promising additions to the defense, with speed and size.   An unexpected development was that 18 year-old first round draft pick defenseman Luca Sbisa had a great camp and has made the team for now.  The Flyers can keep him for nine games before returning him to juniors or keeping him on their roster for the season.  He cannot be sent to the Phantoms.  A longer look in some regular season games should provide more insight, but it looks like the pick acquired in the RJ Umberger trade could lessen the impact of losing his scoring. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Flyers hockey without injuries, and we have two significant ones already: Defenseman Ryan Parent will be out for three months with a shoulder injury and defenseman Randy Jones will miss time due to upcoming hip surgery.  So, before the season starts, the Flyers lose a top-four defenseman and an up-and-coming young defenseman who would have been in the top six.  They may actually need Sbisa to continue his strong showing. 

Going into the first game, the active roster looks like this:

Goal: Marty Biron, Antero Nittymaki, Jean-Sebastien Aubin

Defense: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Lasse Kukkonen, Luca Sbisa

Forward Lines: Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, Glen Metropolit, Scotty Upshall, Aaron Asham, Riley Cote, Steve Downie

So, there it is.  Let’s drop the puck and let’s go Flyers!

Flyers Prospect Camp

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 30, 2008 by flyersfan44

Flyers' prospects at the Skate Zone in VoorheesI took a day last week to visit the Flyers Prospect Camp at their training facility in Voorhees, New Jersey.  The camp was held over an eight day period with one day devoted to a running, cycling, and kayaking competition among the prospects at the Jersey Shore known as the “Trial on the Isle” at Stone Harbor.  In Voorhees, it was the typical drills and scrimmages.  It was nice to get an early look at some of the Flyers top prospects, notably James Van Riemsdyk, the #2 overall draft pick from 2007, this year’s first round pick Luca Sbisa, and the first round pick from 2006, Claude Giroux.  The day that I attended, none of those three really stood out, although both Van Riemsdyk and Giroux scored in the scrimmage. 

One player that caught my eye was Mario Kempe, who was a fifth round pick in 2007 and is playing in the QMJHL.  This guy is FAST.  He made a nice end to end rush for a goal during the scrimmage and was flying around the rink until, as you might espect as Flyers’ fans, he was injured.  He limped off the ice after a check against the boards, was looked at by the trainer, then was helped to the dressing room.  No word on the severity of the apparent knee injury.  Keep this guy in mind – he looks like a good prospect.

Another player who garnered some attention was Zac Rinaldo, a center who was a sixth round pick in this year’s draft.  He laid some good checks on people and was generally hitting everything that he came near.  Evidently trying to make an impact on management in addition to his opponents.

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.