Home HockeyBuzz Register Login
"All Geeked-Up for the Deadline..."
Newtown Square, PA • United States • 45 Years Old • Male

Right Wing Conspiracy...

Posted 11:02 AM ET | Comments 11

As if we've not been inundated enough with Politics already, there is a new issue looming on the horizon in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area...a Right Wing Conspiracy. No, this issue has nothing to do with the impending Presidential election, the balance of power within the U.S. House of Representatives or some smoky, backroom dealings of the Grand Old Party...this is much, much more important. I'm talking about a Flyers' Right Wing Conspiracy.

As it stands now, the Flyers have five right wingers - Mike Knuble, Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul, Sami Kapanen and a modified right wing in Danny Briere - which he played well during the playoffs. Add to that the potential to have Scottie Hartnell play right wing, with Briere as the centreman and Simon Gagne as a healthy left wing next year and it poses another set of issues. Toss in the hat of QJMHL super-stud and playoff MVP, Claude Giroux and now you could have the potential for as many as SEVEN right wingers - that many right wingers in one place at one time could easily constitute an Attilla "The Hun" party and bring a slight curl to the lips of even Newt Gingrich. Oh...Steve Downey is a RW and and R.J. Umberger can play right wing, as well.

Be that as it may, the Orange and Black will not head into the pre-season - barely four months away - with any more than four Right Wingers. So, the question is...who's it going to be???

You could easily make the case that Danny Briere belongs in the middle as a pivot between Gagne and Hartnell. Briere sets the table, Hartnell does the dirty work in front and in the corners and Gagne pots the goals. This line makes the most sense to me - assuming a healthy Gagne. If Gagne cannot go next season, then it means the Flyers patch things together to make a pickup at the deadline. Hopefully, that is not the case.

Going into last year, I had the KGB line together with Knuble doing the heavy lifting for Briere and Gagne. http://my.hockeybuzz.com/..._id=3682&post_id=2380 While is a still possibility, the hard hitting, tenacious and in-your-face play of Scottie Hartnell necessitates that Knuble be dropped to the second line...or possibly traded? Nah, he has too much value on the PP and in front of the net.

You could make the case that the playoff line of Hartnell - Richards - Briere might be just as formidable, with Briere playing right wing and having more room to create. While I like the premise of this line, I don't think that Briere on the Right and Richards in the middle makes long term sense. Briere need to be the spark plug on the first line and Richards needs to anchor the second line, to maintain the scoring balance the team so beautifully achieved in 2007-08.

Knuble and Lupul ended up on the same line many a time last year and could continue to do so in the next campaign. Knuble on the left and Lupul on the right between new Flyers Captain and Mr. Everything - Mike Richards - would make a versatile, potent and dangerous second line. I love this line and hope to see it when we open up the preseason in September. It has grit, scoring punch and enough speed to keep the opposing forwards honest.

Our resident pest and ball of energy, Scottie Upshall (6'0", 197lbs), will need to make a change and play left wing on my third line (as he is left handed) with newly made man, Jeff Carter (6'3", 200lbs) in the middle and Star-in-waiting Claude Giroux (5'11", 172) on the right side. Yes, Giroux has not played three games in the NHL and at 5'11" and 172 pounds, he would not be taking too many forwards to the woodshed. That being said, Giroux has proven to be a responsible defender (+40 last year with Gatineau) in a wide open QJMHL and the kid has serious skills - a QJMHL record 51 points in 19 playoff games is nothing to sneeze at. While this doesn't look like your traditional "shut down" line, their speed and skill might make up for what they lack in size. Remember, in the "new" NHL - speed kills.

My fourth line would consist of Rockin' Riley Cote (6'1", 210lbs) on the left wing, Sami Kapanen (5'10", 185 lbs) on the right and Steve Downie (5'11", 200lbs) moved to center. Is it a stretch to think that Downie can play center? Maybe. Is it a stretch to think that Kapanen can and will play another season of 4th line minutes? Dunno. Is this line too small to be a factor? Could be.

So here are my four lines, with what we know today:

Gagne - Briere - Hartnell
Knuble - Richards - Lupul
Upshall - Carter - Giroux
Cote - Downey - Kapenen

Now, the player I omitted was, obviously, R.J. Umberger. Could he be placed into my scenario instead of Lupul and play the left wing, moving Knuble back to the right? Sure. The reason I didn't consider that is that I agree with Ek that he will be moved to help sure up the defense. Could Lupul end up being the one traded? Absolutely. However, I firmly believe that Umberger has greater trade value with a higher potential return, due to his hot playoff run and renowned versatility.

I think it is Giroux's time to scratch his NHL itch with meaningful minutes on a serious line. No player showed greater emergence during the end of the season and into the playoffs, than Jeff Carter. He has the skills and mental makeup to change any game. Pair him with a young sniper like Giroux, know that there will be problems and inconsistencies in the young man's transition to the NHL, but stick with it and the results could be awe inspiring. Add the energy and grit of a Scottie Upshall and that third group could be a real counter-attacking, speedy and under your skin kind of line.

Let me know what you think. If I am totally out of line, please tell me your combinations. I am more excited about this off-season and heading into the '08-'09 campaign than I have been since the days of the Legion.

Tell me your Right Wing Conspiracy...oh, and I'll be the one with the cigar, nursing a single-malt in the corner. I love a good conspiracy...

Thanks for reading...

May 23, 2008 11:44 AM ET | Delete
So, what happens to Thoresen?
May 23, 2008 11:59 AM ET | Delete
That lineup is nasty. God, I hope Gagne can stay healthy.
May 23, 2008 12:00 PM ET | Delete
And of course that we sign Jeff.
May 23, 2008 12:50 PM ET | Delete
As usual, a thorough and insightful blog, SYF, and you're right, that many right wings would look like a party at Dick Cheney's house. A couple of changes to consider: Giroux on the 1st line with Briere and Gagne. I watched his play during the Memorial Cup and the kid definitely has serious skills. Not only shooting the puck, but he makes some magical passes. I realize that doing this takes away a mucker from in front of the net, but the speed of that line might make that unnecessary. I'd move Hartnell to th eline with Carter and Upshall. Carter is more of a shooter than a playmaker, and Hartnell parked in front of the goalie make help the production for both. I agree with your assessment of Umberger and although I would like to keep him, Ek's concept of swapping him to Nashville for Suter. I can see that happening in a deal similar to last year's deal to get Kimmo and Scott. Prior to Free Agency, swap the rights and get them signed before they hit the open market. To me, that deal last year was the most brilliant of all the ones Homer made.
May 23, 2008 12:59 PM ET | Delete
Nice job as always SYF.
May 23, 2008 2:03 PM ET | Delete
WilsonEcho9 - Here are the regular season and playoff stats for Patrick Thoresen. You tell me who you would replace with numbers like that???He is a nice guy to chew up some minutes, but nothing special. He might be able to move Cote off the 4th line, but then who is your tough guy??? No way he moves anyone off the 3rd line, as I see it.Regular Season - Playoffs -Games38 14Goals2 0Assists6 2Points8 2 /--10 1 Pocono - I don't dismiss the idea of moving Giroux to the 1st line...and there is no doubt in my mind that is where he will eventually be...I just want to ease him in the first full season and let the game come to him a little. My third line play seems like it might be more suited to a 20 year old with tremendous upside. I didn't want to put the weight of the world upon his shoulders yet.
May 23, 2008 2:16 PM ET | Delete
He didn't have great numbers that's for sure, and the one goal he scored was disallowed by a bogus call in the last game that was already a blow out (but I wanted him to at least get that goal). Anyway, I just really like the way the kid plays and think he'll take Sami's spot if Sami retires.
May 23, 2008 2:32 PM ET | Delete
I would be ok with that plan if Sami retires. Has there been talk that I have missed about him hanging them up? Thanks for commenting! SYF
May 23, 2008 5:56 PM ET | Delete
The ONLY way Thor returns is if Kapanen retires. Even then, it's not written in stone. He did a great job for a guy they found in a dumpster outside a 7-11, but really, he's a fringe guy...even with his balls of steel.
May 23, 2008 10:41 PM ET | Delete
man that had to hurt...*wince*
May 25, 2008 10:20 AM ET | Delete
Well, I'll keep my comments simple: Nice read and intriguing looks for next season's Flyers. BTW, excellent title and tie-in to your blog. Also, that is a great "smoke" photo SYF.
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to leave a comment.

Blog Archive