I'll be the first to admit that I've been slacking in the blog department.
My last real
blog was back in July, "Addition thru Subtraction"
Having an 8 month old baby might have something to do with it =)
So here we are, about 1/5 of the way into this season, we find the Flyers with a 5-6-3 record with 13 pts over 14 games, currently 6th from the bottom of the barrel in the league.
So what is going right and what went wrong? Here is my skinny on the good, the bad and the ugly.
LEADERSHIP AND GRIT
The Flyers are missing quite a bit of veteran presence that was here last season. Gritty vets like Jason Smith, Derian Hatcher, Sami Kapanen, Jim Dowd and even Vinny Prospal added that much needed intangible characteristic of veteran leadership, grit and poise to the mix of our young talent that got us to the final 4 last season.
So what leadership is left on this team?
got the "C". He is a Jason Smith type of "lead by example on the ice" kinda guy. Despite success on all levels of hockey Richards has played at, he is still young and can not carry the full load of leading this team on his shoulders just yet. Knuble
(age 35) is the only other core veteran forward, and Timonen
(age 33) is the final core vet on this team. and the only vet on defence. Sure, Gagne and Briere are superstar scorers, but they are NOT strong leaders.
The conclusion is that we lost too many veteran players from last season and its become obvious early on in this season. Is Shanny the answer? Prob not unless he will play here for Roenick money.
What Holmgren did with the RJ Umberger situation is nothing short of perfection. RJ's stock value was thru the roof after the playoffs. With the trade during the draft, we were able to shed RJ's anticipated 3.75 mill salary and pick up one of the best surprises of this draft in defenceman Luca Sbisa
(0.875m thru 2012). Sbisa is a blessing right now, especially with Jones and Parent injured and out of the lineup.
has replaced RJ as the flexible center who can fill-in for injured players across the lineup. Has Metro been stellar? No, but he has been very steady with 6 points in 13 games, playing only 13 mins per game. At 1 mill salary, I really like the offseason FA
move to bring Metro on this team, and I think he will only improve with more
production with Stevens giving him more ice time. Last year Dowd had 10 pts
in 73 games and Kappy had 8 pts in 74 games. If Metro keeps up his pace he
will have a 40 point season! (10 pts shy of RJ's 50 ts last season, and on pace
with Hartnell's 43 pts)...all for a fraction of the cost of either of those guys!
's return has been nothing short of a huge relief to Flyers fans. He looks like he never missed a stride since his season-ending concusion last year, averaging 20+ minutes per game and over a point per game and at the top end of this teams points production. This is a huge plus for us, not only in the goal scoring department, but Gagne's all around play looks physical and well rounded.
Kudos to Holmgren for another brilliant trade! The Carle
trade is so lopsided in our favor its not even funny. Both Eminger and Downie are marginal hockey players at the NHL level and both have a much much smaller chance of success at this level than Matt Carle. Coupled with Sbisa on our 2nd defensive pairing, Carle has already shown flashes of brilliance playing 27 minutes!!! with time on both the PP and SH units!
get healthy the Flyers will have 3 extra defencemen to bench or send down or use as trade bait:
is a decent 3rd pair defenceman, and has been one of our more physical D-men and also has a +3 plus/minus. That said.. his defensive play and passing leaves much to be desired, and he is is expendable at 1.223 mill salary. Barring any more unforseen injuries to defensive starters, I believe he will be shipped in a trade by mid-season like Vandermeer or send down to the Phantoms like Fitzpatrick and Goat.
, another off-season FA signing, is slowly growing on me. Ossi is a solid physical defenceman who can chip in on the scoreboard with good positioning, descent passing and solid work ethic. He is averaging 20+ mins per game and has 5pts in 11 games. Not too shabby for his 1mill salary. He is definitly the 'keeper' out of this bunch in my opinion.
. Not to beat a dead horse, but for 0.875 mill, I'd have him as my 7th D-man any day of the week. Last night, his outlet pass to Briere to set up the 1st goal against NYI. Kuk's 16 min average last season has dropped significantly down to 12 mins per game this season in the handful of games where Stevens has played him. This is largely due to the Flyers bringing in Alberts and the emergence of Sbisa. Kuks is also a UFA coming up so my guess is that he wont be here much longer.
As usual, the plague of this team... Flyers goaltending leaves much to be desired. A team with 5 players on the All-star ballot deserves a much more solid goaltender than Biron has shown this season.
is 4-5-1 over 10 starts, with 3.29 Goals Against Average (29th rank) and .890 Save% (25th rank). Thankfully he has looked better in the last few games and I hope he gets back on track.
has better numbers over 308mins in 6 games played, with 2.92 GAA and .899 Save% and in my humble opinion, should be starting until Biron pulls his sh it together.
WHAT WE NEED
More of Stevens' tough-love.
Another trade would be welcome, and expected if we dont right the ship by mid-season.
I hope the rumors are true and Homer is trying to land Shanny or another similar veteran with leadership. ..dare I say it.. Mats Sundin!?!?
WHAT WE DONT NEED
Jones 2.75 mill
Biron(UFA) 3.5 mill
MY WANT LIST: FREE AGENCY AND TRADES
The Flyers upcoming FA's are...Biron, Niity, Knuble, Kukkonen, Vaananen, Alberts..
There were quite a few goaltenders changing hands between last season and now, it would be very nice to see a goaltender+defenceman package trade.
I wonder what it would really take to land any trade packages like..
Lehtonen + Kovalchuck for Gagne, Jones, and Biron
Vokoun + JBow from Florida? for LJones + Biron ?
Khabi + Wisniewski from Chicago ? for Jones + Biron ?
or stealing some upcoming FA's like..
Tkachuk from St Louis ?
Jason Williams from Atlanta ?
Ference from Boston ?
Some upper tier Free Agents I like... Tkachuk(L), McDonald(C), Gaborik(L), Backstrom(G), Cole(L/R), Kotalik(R), Fernandez(G), Jere Lehtinen(L), Saku Koivu(C)
Heres a goalie scenario... we lose one or both of our goalies and pick up any of the following upcoming Free Agent backups for 1~2 mill:
Harding, Anderson, Raycroft, Valiquette, Tellqvist, Sabourin, Ramo, Sanford, Conklin, MacDonald, Johnson or whoever else can be had that is upcoming FA.