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Bringing Hexy Back • 42 Years Old • Male
Even though it's still early, and there's still quite a few moves that need to be made-or should I say will be made-here's a quick look at a few guys that I see as being on the spot in Philly, and a few who might be gone....

On The Spot

5. Joffrey Lupul.

Lupul is basically an offensive player. He doesn't play defense, isn't a great skater and doesn't use his size that great at times. But he has a lethal wrist shot and a natural offensive instinct that should result in plenty of goals. The key for Lupul is not to get overwhelmed, as he seemed to do last year in Edmonton.

4. Kimmo Timonen

Timonen will be counted on to be what he was in Nashville, but in a much more high pressure situation. Not a knock against the passionate fans of the Predators, but Philadelphia fans are a different breed. Timonen should be OK, though, but he's got a man's job ahead of him.

3. Daniel Briere

I happen to think that Briere is a perfect fit for the Flyers, but the contract-which is smaller than those signed by Scott Gomez and Chris Drury(both of whom had fewer points)-is something he'll have to live up to regardless. Considering he gets to gun with a linemate like Simon Gagne, that task should be quite a bit easier.

2. Martin Biron

Biron was inconsistent in his previous chance as a starter, but to be fair, he was probably not ready, following a legend named Dominik Hasek and behind a team that was re-tooling from Stanley Cup finalist to scrappy young contender. Biron then got passed by Ryan Miller who developed into a near elite goalie. If Biron comes in and plays like he did after arriving in the city of Brotherly Love at the deadline and keeps the team in front of him loose and confident, he'll be fine and a big upgrade on the mess the Flyers had in net last year.

1. Jeff Carter

Carter is the guy I see as being on the biggest hot seat-as far as players go. He's shown remarkable talent, but also a stunning inability to put it all together for more than stretches at a time. Carter has good size, an excellent, heavy shot, can be a deft playmaker and even win faceoffs, but when he's not going well, it looks as if he's doing algebra on the ice. He's gotta get his game straight in his head and play off instincts, not thought. He's heading into a RFA year and if he doesn't have a good year between Scott Hartnell and Lupul, he could be an interesting situation in a year.

Possible Goners

1. Denis Gauthier

"The Goat" is a big hitter, but unfortunately, he's oft-injured, takes dumb penalties and has a reputation as a dirty player. He has two years left at $2.1mm per, and it's been pretty widely reported that the Flyers have been shopping him everywhere. He's almost certainly gone by the time the season starts, if not via trade, then by getting waived and sent to the AHL.

2. RJ Umberger

Umberger is a talented player, but he has no spot on the team. His best attribute is his versatility, but on this team that's not a good thing. They need guys that fill specific roles. Umberger isn't an enforcer and he's not a great fit as a fourth line centerman, which are the two biggest needs the Flyers have up front. Umberger is a somewhat valuable trade chip because he has a knack for scoring goals, is a good PK guy and hard worker. He's in the last year of his deal with a $1.15mm cap hit.

John Stevens

Stevens did a solid job after getting dealt a bad hand last year-a bad roster, no training camp, another coach's system, myriad injuries....you name it. Some of the other issues were just the results of being a rookie NHL head coach. Regardless, Stevens will be the fall guy in the event of a slow start. With the highly regarded Jack "Buck" McIlhargey and former Flyers head coach Terry Murray on the staff, the "replacement" is already on hand. That said, Stevens has a good hockey mind and an excellent staff in place with McIlhargey, Murray and Joey Mullen on hand, with the biggest questions, IMO, being goalie coaches Reggie Lemelin and Neil Little.

Lemelin has been the Flyers goalie coach for years and has done little to stem the tide of mediocrity. Granted he's had precious little to work with, but several guys have shown promise then been unable to adjust. Some of that falls under coaching. Little is a neophyte in his first year of coaching, but showed some excellent insight as a commentator on Flyers' broadcasts.
Filed Under:   Timonen   Carter   Jsaq   Briere   Flyers  
July 19, 2007 9:48 AM ET | Delete
I would say that BIRON has the most pressure. He has been a great back-up to Ryan Miller, but has not proven much as an everyday starter. I would say as BIRON goes, so will the Flyers.
July 19, 2007 9:48 AM ET | Delete
I would say that BIRON has the most pressure. He has been a great back-up to Ryan Miller, but has not proven much as an everyday starter. I would say as BIRON goes, so will the Flyers.
July 19, 2007 11:45 AM ET | Delete
I agree with you re: Lemelin. I expect Little to have his job by next season. I also think that both Gauthier and Umberger will be gone before the start of the season. I think the Flyers may also trade Lupul, if and only if, they can sign Selanne. Possible trade: Umberger to Columbus for Manny Malhotra and a 3rd round pick. Malhotra is a prototypical 4th line center with size and speed and the Flyers don't have a 2nd in '08, so two 3rds would be nice.
July 19, 2007 1:38 PM ET | Delete
Your first two lines are Gagne - Briere - Knuble(?), Lupul - Carter - Hartnell. That leaves Upshall, Umberger, Kapanen, Ruzicka and Eager on the wings and Richards and Potulny up the middle with Downie trying to crack the roster at the wing. Personally I'd love to see what Downie would look like on the wing with Richards and Upshall. The fourth line would be Potulny between Kapanen and Umberger with Eager spelling Kapanen. I think Ruzicka will be gone for a pick by the end of training camp.
July 19, 2007 2:48 PM ET | Delete
July 19, 2007 2:59 PM ET | Delete
Great article, nicely supported and obviously well thoughtout.I agree with everything other then- Umberger not having a place on this team. The fact that he can play so many different positions and game situations makes him a great asset to this team. However, his RFA status next season and the fact that he may be worth something makes him trade bait. I would hate to see RJ moved right now because of his usefullness and the fact that he would be playing 4th line center. PLaying 4th line center would mean that he would recieve little salary increase next year if we do decide to resign him, and with the injury problems that have plagued the flyers for the last few years I would think that having a player that can jump up and play any where in the lineup (except 1st line and PP) would be a good asset. I also agree with a post above mine that Lupul could be traded. The flyers organization has show less excitement about him then I expected (perhaps because they dont want to add pressure?). But when watching his goal highlights he does not impress me and if he is, as you say, not a defensive player then he may have little use on this team. His goals in his season with ANH were mostly set up by Selanne (a great setup man) or bank shots- lucky. I was originally very excited to acquire Lupul but the more I think about it the less I see him fitting in. Two senarios:1. Hartnell-Carter-LupulCarter needs a set up man and Hartnell is good for working the boards and getting to the front of the net. The right side would be better served on this line by a setup man (forsberg/selanne- long shots). 2. Kapannen-Richards-LupulA shut down line? If Lupul cant play the other side of the ice then he doesnt belong here. He isnt fast and doesnt use his size well- not a good fit)Lupul is on the spot for sure...but I would move him if it meant brining in a setup man for Carter.
July 19, 2007 3:06 PM ET | Delete
Nice analysis. I'd add three to the endangered species list, aside from the oft mentioned Gauthier and RJ, that being Randy Jones, Potulny, and Ruzicka. Jones, because of the d-men numbers. Potulny, because of the need for a forth-line center which he is obviously ill fitted for. Even as a left winger, I don't see him playing on the first three lines so he's either going to be a spare player on the Flyers, moved, or it's back to the Phantoms for more ice time. Same rationale for Ruzicka. Unfortunately, both Ryan and Rosey will need significantly more ice time than they will be alloted to progress as NHL players.
July 19, 2007 3:12 PM ET | Delete
Nice job as usual, J. I would agree that Stevens is under the gun as well - it must be an "interesting" feeling to say the least to know that your replacement is on the bench with you and is only a lengthy winless streak away from taking over. Mr. Snider Homer are giving him the pieces to be more successful this year - ultimately it's up to John and his staff to turn things around. I'd like to see a little more fire when the team is going through some adversity - I think Mike Richards was one of the few guys that stepped up and showed some disgust at losing. Rathje was absolutely embarrassing with his comments last year, especially when he pulled one of his patented "turnovers to lose the game" moves.
July 19, 2007 3:48 PM ET | Delete
Agreed with 77 rams- those players arnt going to crack the line up. However they are great depth players and if we do look to trade gautheir or rj or soomeone with a higher salary they may be our next best option for slotting into the lineup for cap space issues. That said we dont need all of them and I agree that some may/should be moved. Stevens will have a short leash- and with good reason, Hitchcook was a proven veteran coach and only got how many games? It should be less for stevens due to the let down of last season, his experience, and the expectations of having some great talent on the team- I see him being let go if at 15 games they are near 5-10 or at 25 games under .500. Anyone else have thought on these numbers?
July 19, 2007 4:40 PM ET | Delete
This will cover several of the comments above: Potulny is a guy I never saw as having a real shot anyhow-I always saw him as a Phantom in the near future. Jones is going to stick as the seventh defenseman, because he can't be sent to the AHL without clearing waivers. Ruzicka is another guy I never considered as more than a Phantom after the deals for Hartnell and Lupul. Selanne isn't coming to Philadelphia, IMO. Umberger is ill suited to the holes the team has-they need a face-off guy or a enforcer, RJ is neither. As far as guys being dealt, I see them as salary dumps, like for picks and or prospects-maybe a goon.
July 19, 2007 5:21 PM ET | Delete
Agreed that but for the horrific year in '06-'07, Poltuny and Ruzicka would not have even been in the equation this season. The majority of last year was basically for open tryouts which allowed both a taste of the bigs and, like Patrick Sharpe before them, would hopefully draw some interest for (and I agree again) an enforcer, or, as somebody suggested, a Manny Maholtra-like 4th line center.
July 19, 2007 6:48 PM ET | Delete
this is the topic we're all thinking about. i posted on the NYR spot that a trade including RJ and whoever for dubinsky and montoya. the rangers need someone w/ proven nhl cred now- they're closer than we are. for us it's a great deal regardless of the fact that it's the NYR. both teams have needs to fill for now and the future. barring this type of scenario, i would also be open to flipping lupul and whoever for that young R hand D man like a burns or seabrook. either way the flyers need prospects that are a ways from FA status and the cap room to sign carter, richards and coburn if they desire. homer still has work to do.
July 19, 2007 7:16 PM ET | Delete
Agreed that this is a good topic and it seems to be what most flyers fans are thinking about right now. I currently hear from others fans that we need: an enforcer, 4th line veteran faceoff guy, right handed D man, and a goalie prospect, cap room to resign key RFAs, and potential room to sign big UFAs if they decide to come to Philly. I am also currently hear that we have to trade: Gauthier, Hatcher, Lupul, RJ, Ruziska, Poltuny, Jones, Picard, and several prospects. I dont expect much trading in Philly to occur until after most UFAs are gone (including the 2nd and 3rd tier guys), RFA signings are over, and the few players contemplating retirement make up their minds. These event will allow teams to assess what is available and their needs a little better. I reiterate isaiah520s comment: homer still has work to do! Now its the waiting game. Side note: anyone talk on the flyers message boards? They are, in general, horrible and for young kids that dont like to exercise or go outside. I cant think of many interesting and respectful conversations I have had on them, certainly none comparable to an average hockeybuzz. my 2 cents.
July 19, 2007 8:01 PM ET | Delete
I don't think they have a lot to trade, really. Lupul isn't getting traded. He's got more natural goal scoring ability than any of the young wingers in the system, he's a cheap cap hit and young. Gauthier and Hatcher, due to their contracts, don't have much, if any value. Jones isn't likely to get more than future considerations, because nobody will trade for him anyhow. Potulny, Ruzicka and Picard might have value, but it's going to be subjective at best. Umberger has the best value, unless names like Giroux, Downie or Prent start getting bartered.
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