Ok, I've finally gathered my thoughts since the huge trade from a week ago. Every blogger is mentioning it over and over, but everyone knows what it is so I won't repeat myself nor make you read it again.
There are a lot of things I want to go over with Free Agency and there are some things I'd like to clear up for what seems to be a "pissed off" Flyerdom.
First we’ll talk about Free Agency.
I was waiting impatiently for 12:01 PM. Then it came and nothing happened. 12:30; nothing happened. Finally around 12:45, in which seemed be the slowest start to Free Agency day. Then out of nowhere it quickly began which would become the most active FA day I've ever seen. Not to mention most over paid.
The Buffalo Sabres, quickly began the day hours before 12PM and signed Christan Ernhoff to a deal. This Boosts their D up and will only help compliment net minder, Ryan Miller. But that was just the start of it. Buffalo isn't afraid to open their check book as they added Robyn Regehr who's another solid D man, signed Winger Ville Leino UFA from Philly, resigned Nathan Gerbe, and Cody McCormick.
The Ville Leino deal to me is a good pick up for Buffalo, but they over paid him. In the 2010 Stanley Cup run, Leino made a name for himself and helped put the Leino-Briere-Hartnell Line on the map. Too bad it was a short lived line, but Ville isn't a 4.5 Million player. He's good and has room to grow, but he hasn't grown to that status yet. Buffalo is hoping that he'll grow into a 4.5 million player and perhaps will be a good investment. But Philadelphia was able to see him for a full year and watch his flaws, his mistakes and his "game" which showed in the 2011 playoffs as predictable. He loves to skate in with the puck, go around the net, back up the boards and across the blue line. It worked before because no one expected it. Also to Ville's credit he has great puck handling ability. But ability only goes far, when your opponent isn't expecting what you are going to do next.
I wish Ville good luck. Lindy Ruff is a great coach, and I love his style of hockey, but will Ville fit in his system? Another thing I think Buffalo over looked. Time will tell.
The Florida Panthers are a troubled franchise in a tough market. I say troubled franchise because I have family down in FL. They GIVE tickets away and are relying on concessions and merchandise for their profit. But needless to say, they spent some money in the past few days. They overpaid Thomas Kopecky, but that was just so they can hit the cap floor. Since Florida is in a major over-haul, they brought in new coach, Kevin Dineen, and began to build their new team. They traded for D man Brian Campbell who won a cup with Chicago in 2010. He's a great addition to their defense, but his contract is overwhelming. They signed, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischman, Ed Jovenovski, and Jose Thedore. They've also brought in Matt Bradley, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, and Kris Versteeg who also won a cup in 2010. Question is, can they seriously become a contender? Their position on the map has represented their position in the standings but perhaps they could change that this year.
LA Kings. The LA Kings are a team out west that I've liked for awhile but maybe I didn't realize why until yesterday. They're the Flyers of the west coast.
The Organization already has Ron Hextall as AGM, Terry Murry as head coach and John Steves as Assistant Coach. (I find it ironic that when John Stevens was head coach of the Flyers, Terry Murry was the Assistant coach under him.) They formally employed former Flyer Handzus, who just signed with the Sharks, and Randy Jones who's now with Tampa. But they just landed former Flyers Captain, Mike Richards, and Simon Gagne. They also have Justin Williams. The Kings were already a pretty good team, the only reason they haven't gone deep in the Playoffs are only a few reasons. They are; Canucks, Sharks, Ducks, Stars and Coyotes. That division alone is very tough. And some think having the Rangers, Penguins, Devils, and Flyers in the same division was hard. So LA is just beefing up. What they really need to do is re-sign Stud Defenseman, Drew Doughty. I'm told he's close to signing, and most likely will happen on Tuesday. Although I've heard reports of him being dealt, I don't see this happening. He's the back bone of their defense and losing him will only leave their shaky goalie, Jonathan Quick more vulnerable. Don't take your eye of this team.
Other honorable mentions:
Erik Cole signs with my most hated team, the Canadians. I was hoping he would sign with the Flyers but he will greatly help improve the Habs. He brings good two way play and is good in clutch situations.
Brad Richards/Rupp: Talk about overpaid. Rupp? Seriously? I can't believe the Rangers gave him the money he got. As for Brad Richards, he's a good player, but not 6.6mil a year good. He'll put points up, but will he be healthy? There's no question he has a great relationship with head coach Tortorella. They've got their name next to each other on Lord Stanley's hardware. What about the rest of the team? Will there be favoritism. Players are known to have stopped playing for Torts, so is this reunion a good thing? Again time will tell.
It's been 3 days to us, but for Tampa Fans and Steve Yzerman it's been 3 months, and pretty much all of last season and nothing on the Stamkos front. I'm told not even an offer sheet has been submitted by other teams and yet he's still not re-signed. Could Stamkos really not want to play in Tampa? Does he really want to test the market and use offers as bait? This could be an example where the fish reels in the fisherman. Yzerman has the cards, but Stamkos has the chips. (See what I did there?) If something is not done by at least Wednesday, I truly believe Stamkos goes elsewhere. Toronto's only brought in Tim Connelly, so could they really be holding out? This could make GM Brian Burke a genus or what Leaf fans already believe, a fool. I personally could see Stamkos in a Leafs Jersey. (UPDATE: LEAFS PICK UP LOMBARDI) However, this Flyers fan has come to terms that HE WILL NOT BE A FLYER. The Sooner other Flyer Fans can come to terms the sooner they can realize what's really happening!
Which brings me to the Flyers.
I wanted the Flyers to do two things. Sign Erik Cole and sign Simon Gagne. They did neither. Instead they went out and grabbed the NHL 9th Leading scorer of all time, Jaromir Jagr. (Another Brick thrown) Then they signed another ex-Penguin, Max Talbot. I've listened to hundreds of fans, DJs and analysts over the past 3 days. Majority are pissed off. "Jagr is old, he's 39, he's washed up, he hasn't played in the NHL in 3 years! We're finishing last!" I've heard enough! These are the works of the fans that yell "Shoot" when they Flyers are on a powerplay and trying to set up shop. Also they are the same fans that start coming around March. I'll explain and give you 3 reasons to why signing Jagr is a great move.
Jagr is a highly skilled offenseman. Former MVP, two time Stanley Cup Champion, captain of 3 NHL Teams, and has won Medal after Medal. He's currently 9th in NHL all time scoring. If you've followed his stats over in Russia, the numbers are pretty good. No they're not his Numbers when he was MVP, but Gretzky didn't score 93 goals when he was in his 30's either. The Flyers have a few super stars in the making not to mention the Center they just drafted. (More on him in a different Blog)
They may have lost three 50-60 pt players but Jager will put up 50 pts. I’m not looking for him to put up his old numbers and neither are the Flyers. He'll help with their troubled Power Play, score when they need to, and him playing along with Giroux or Briere alone will prove to be great, IF HE STAYS HEALTHY. That's the only risk. But that's a risk EVERY NHL Player takes. Look at Crosby. At 22, he's missed more than half a season and the playoffs due to injury. It's not about age.
Speaking of age, can you imagine me telling you that when you're 39/40 that you're old? What is old these days? Gordie Howe played until he was 54. Chris Chellios played until he was 47. If you look at Baseball, Pitcher Jamie Moyer was 46 years old when he pitched his last game. Injury ended his career. Mark Recci? 42. Last I checked he just won a cup. Look at his numbers. Scratch that, look at him! He's got the endurance, speed and skill set of a 30 year old. Dwayne Rolson, he's 41. Had his team had scored a goal or two in game 7 in ECF, his name could be on the cup. Teemu Selanne, 40 years old, 31 goals, 49 Assists last season. I think I've made my point with age. It's just a number. As long as these players have that mindset and discipline, this is what we'll see from Jagr. 50pts I predict.
He signed a 1 year contract. That's 1 year! He gets hurt or he doesn't pan out, guess what? ITS A YEAR! And don't give me that he isn't worth 3.3 mil. If he scores 50pts is it worth it? Leino had 53, he just signed a 4.5 per year contract. Versteeg had 46 pts, he's making 3mil. Richards and Carter had 66 pts each and they're making over 5mil per year, so if he puts up 16 less pts then them, you tell me is this a bad signing?
3.3 mil. Not only do you get his offensive capability, but you get a proven leader. 3 time captain mind you. Other than Pronger we lacked a huge presence in the Locker room. Jagr fills that void. We had a quiet captain, and whenever something went on in the locker room, who held someone accountable? If you tell me Richards held his team accountable, then I must ask why this team let a 1st place Eastern Conf seed slip away? They had it in the bag too. Or why did we struggle against a Buffalo team that lacked skill. And why did we get smoked by Boston when the Habs, Tampa and Canucks all took them to game 7? To me it doesn't sound like this team was held accountable for anything. We need more leadership. It's a fact. I had to be addressed and Homer addressed it. And he got a goalie!
Signing Max Talbot brings in ANOTHER Cup winner. His two way play reminds me of a young Lappy. Except Talbot has a better skill set. Our penalty killing just got better and well as our Defensive Offense. We didn't have much of that since Lappy left.
I don't think we're done. I think we're another player away from being set. I've love to see Zherdev back in Orange and Black. I don't think he had the chance to develop to what he is. We don't see what happens off the ice, but we're told that's why he didn't play on the ice. His off Ice attitude cost him his chance. But when he did play after he was waived, he played two way hockey, more physical and he has all the talent in the world. The fact that he hasn't been signed yet, shows that he has off ice issues, but can we control that? What if, they signed him 1 yr $900,000 with incentives. If he scores 30 goals, he gets 1 mil? That may clear his issues since he has something to play for. If he had a clear head, he'll put up 30 goals easy. Don't play, don't get paid! I'm just doing some wishful thinking, but at this point, I don't think it would be a bad idea.
To put it all together we lost:
Mike Richards 66pts
Jeff Carter 66pts
Ville Leino 53 pts
Kris Versteeg 46 Pts
Sean O'donnell 18pts
Brian Boucher (Back-up Goalie) At best.
Dwayne Simmonds (Unsigned)
Sean Coutier (Via 8th Pick Overall)
Andreas Lilja (Replaces O'Donnell)
Max Talbot (Replaces Darroll Powe's PK Role but not 4th line role. Nodl takes 4th line spot)
I think we're going to be ok. Like I said, we're a player away.
Look for the following players to be waived following the conclusion of Training Camp:
Jody Shelly (1.1mil cap, Sesito could replace)
Schenn. (I think he'll play one year in the AHL or atleast half the season before Nodl is sent down)
Lappy will be placed on LTIR.
That clears up roughly 8mil in salary. Who do we sign next?
Answer to last blog's trivia: Which NHL Team won 62 out of 82 games in 1995-96 season? Answer: Detriot Red Wings
Today's Trivia: Who was the last player to wear # 27 for the Philadelphia Flyers?