Anyone who says anything about Mike Richards' play or leadership hasn't watched enough Flyers hockey, especially in the past two seasons. The man will be sorely missed, regardless of what you want to say now that he's gone.
He was easily one of the best two way forwards in hockey, and Los Angeles gets him at that all-too-cheap 5.4 million dollar cap hit, which is close to half of what a comparable player would have gotten on the free agent market in the next few offseasons.
One thing I (and associated people) have noticed: the people who know hockey loved Richards; the people that don't know hockey hated him.
I will miss Richie... On the other hand, I won't miss Jeff Carter one bit. I never liked him.
Don't get me wrong here.. Jagr was overpaid, but he was paid less than what Ville Leino wanted (and eventually got from Buffalo.) That is all the Jagr signing was, compensation for losing Leino. Holmgren didn't put money on the table for #68 until it was apparent that Ville didn't want to come back. Jagr will be expected to play and develop Ville-ish chemistry with Briere and Hartnell; he will not be expected to lead. He never was much of a leader. However, even at 39.. he's an upgrade over Ville and his bad hip.
On Steeger (et al.):
The Versteeg trade feels like only one of (as opposed to the only) trade we're going to see in the next few days. Reasons: Matt Carle's name keeps coming up... And I still think there is no way we'll pay Bobrovsky 1.75 million to back up a 5.4 million dollar goalie.
On Max Talbot:
I like Max Talbot, for a bunch of reasons. Namely game 7 of the 2009 finals. He's the kind of guy who won't skip a beat between the older guys and the younger guys in the locker room. Everyone who played with him in Pittsburgh had nothing but nice things to say about him, his personality, and his work ethic. We needed a veteran center and he is an upgrade over the rumored names of John Madden and Michal Handzus. However, the only way he's in a Flyers jersey for that entire 5 year contract is if Holmgren's plan plays out the way he wants and we see an improved team and deep playoff runs.
On Carbomb, OD, Vorachek:
If I needed another reason to hate Chicago more, they took two character guys from us yesterday in Carbomb and Sean OD. Hawks fans were pretty vocal about being disappointed in these signings, which makes no sense to me. I have nothing but love for both of them.
Which is more than I can say for Nik Zherdev, who'll be gone soon.. so soon that he's not on the official roster anymore despite his still unsigned status. Total expirimental failure. Vorachek is basically a bigger version of Zherdev, who's slightly younger. But those couple of years will be instrumental in Vorachek's attempt to avert the common Russian draft bust tag that Zherdev could never shake.
On Bouch (Read: BOOSH!)
A piece of my fandom died today when Brian Boucher left for Carolina. I can't say anything about him that I didn't say about Gagne when he left last year, so I won't try. But either way I will miss me some Bouch. Paul Maurice is getting a workhorse and a great teammate.
I may be the only Flyers fan in the world who likes the Lilja signing. I like the man's resume. He came about half as cheap as Sean OD did last year and his output will more or less be the same. Lilja also plays a bigger and faster game than OD, albeit only slightly. No matter what, there's not much to be unhappy about when you replace one sixth defenseman with another who is 4 years younger and half as cheap.
All this talk about Brad Richards and Simon Gagne (and the far more ridiculous talk about Drew Doughty and Keith Yandle... which I will not even acknowledge after this sentence.) and no one seems to realize the following:
Gagne is 31, not nearly old enough to take a discount on an open UFA market that's fairly weak at winger after Leino was signed. And if he were to take a discount to come back, have we been adequately improved for another finals run? If you had to think about that then I don't know that a Gagne discount is in our cards. if Leino can get 4 million, Gagne would be a lunatic not to go after at LEAST 4.5, if not 5. I think it's far more likely he'll sign in Los Angeles where Flyers fan favorites like to continue their careers post-Orange and Black (Terry Murray, John Stevens, Ron Hextall, Mike Richards, Justin Williams.)
I hope I'm dead wrong. I hope I wake up tomorrow morning and hear that Gagne came back home. I miss him dearly.
Another Center on the other hand...
Brad Richards is being whored out in Toronto for the nest 24 hours or so and the Flyers have exactly zero representatives present. The smart money has always been on Richards going to play for the Rangers, so let's not get hasty and change that just because we "need" a center.
And we really don't need a center. Briere is more than good enough to be the best center on an NHL roster, and Giroux's natural position is down the middle. That leaves Talbot and Betts on the last two lines. In all honesty, that doesn't sound so bad. Especially if we added Gagne to the mix at wing. (Nods appreciatively.)
I believe Paul Holmgren when he says that he feels this team could compete as is (especially if Schenn is ready to make the jump) but I don't believe that he is done. Despite all of my common sense and the past few lines where I tried to justify the current roster, I can't help but fall back on the words between THE COLLABORATOR and myself after we traded Richie and Carts:
"Homer is a brilliant man. Carter was on his way out if you ask me. But he would NOT trade Richards if he weren't trying to make cap space for something bigger. I would be shocked if we didn't go after Brad Richards, and if that fails I would be shocked if we didn't explore the trade avenues to a top two center."
This is what makes this time of year so fun.. even when your team isn't in a position to make any more big moves, you still have an opportunity to think about the possibilities.
We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death.. Life is just a place where we spend time between games.