Acquiring Chris Pronger seals up the back-end for next season. He is exactly what the FLyers missed this year: someone to clear out the middle and score goals from the point. Holmgren paid a steep price but realize that he did it to win now. Luca Sbisa will be missed, but ultimately was deemed expendable when Homer said he had reached a deal with MA Bourdon. Sbisa was projected to be a number 3 defenceman something that can easily be found in the future. Lupul has been on his way out since the deadline because of his inconsistency. The prospects obtained from the two first round picks wont be ready for the NHL for at least 2 years and probably won't begin to warrant a second line spot for a total of 4 years from now. Its not even a gaurentee that those players would pan out. Lastly, Pronger will hopefully help Braydon Coburn mature into a top defensman and galvanize the team to play with heart every game.
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So now that Flyers have a Hammer in the middle manning the point whats next? Well this team needs a 3rd line center who can win faceoffs and play the PK to give Mike Richards some much needed rest. The team also needs another winger having now lost Lupul and most likely Knuble. I don't think JVR will be able to step up and fill that role because he has shown some reluctancy to entering the NHL(if only Kane had slipped to 2nd).
How the FLyers acquire those two players will be difficult unless Homer wants to be right against the cap like last season. Their are several ways for Homer to accomplish this. Either, Danny Briere will move up to play wing with Gags and Richie and Giroux will move into Lupul's spot with Hartnell and Carter and Homer will Sign a third line center. Or, Briere or Gags could be dealt to acquire a cheaper winger leaving the additional cap space to sign the 3rd Line center. Homer could make a rash decision and trade Jeff Carter instead of Gags or Briere, but I don't think he is dumb enough to trade Carter for cap relief.
The defense is now solidified. Pronger, Timonen, and Coburn are the top three. I slot Parent the number 4 because he is a shutdown guy who thinks defense first and he fits into the FLyers long term plans. Matt Carle and Randy Jones will be battling for the 5th spot. Both are similar players, but ultimately Carle is better. In a best case scenario Jones is traded for a mid-round pick and a million dollar defenseman is signed to a one year deal to take over the 6th spot. Either Jones or Carle will be traded at some point this year, but i wouldn't be surprised if Homer let them battle it out at the beginning of the season to see who stays.
Ray Emery will be happy to see Pronger and Timonen sharing duty in front of him this year. Ray has a chip on his shoulder and will provide at least equal goaltending to Biron, who wasn't the problem this year he just wasnt the solution either. Hopefully, Ray comes back to his 06-07 form. Backland may be handed the back up job out of necessity if Homer cant free up a little more cap space. It would be nice to see Homer pick up Anderson or Clemmenson as insurance because they could both handle the number one spot if Ray bombs. Sadly, I dont think the Flyers at the end of the day will have the cap space to sign either goalie. They may have to resign Niity at his current rate if he is willing. Their last option would be to sign Conklin.
All in all, Homer made the hardest move today. All that is left are a few tweaks and minor moves that this team could live without. The FLyers are not a perfect team by any stretch but neither were the Penguins this year. Right now the FLyers are at least contenders and thats all we can for before any games have been played.
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