In my Gagne article last night (this morning) I failed to mention my one of my favorite Gags stories. Although, in reality, it just makes me mad. It's only one of my favorites mainly because A: i was right, and B: al morganti was wrong.
I remember near the trade deadline a few years back (maybe more than a few), Al Morganti was on Flyers post game live saying that Bobby Clarke was talking to Calgary about Jerome Iginla. I don't know how Morganti knew this (to be honest, i don't know how al morganti knows anything), but he said that for Iginla, Calgary wanted at least Gagne AND Williams.. and picks (AND!!! NOT OR!!!) Whoever was co-hosting at the time said the deal was a joke and it compromised the team's future. Al Morganti in all his infinite wisdom said something to the effect of how Clarke needed to pull the trigger on this deal to bring us an elite winger. For those of us keeping track, Al Morganti said he thought it was a good idea to trade two of our most promising young guys at the time (on a stacked roster) for Jerome Iginla. Don't get me wrong, Iginla is one of my favorite players, but c'mon. I remember thinking Clarke was too smart to make this deal. I also remember thinking HOW does al morganti still have a job (this still troubles me.) To this day, this particular story still infuriates me.
Al Morganti was wrong.
this is my shocked face...
However, now that Gags is in fact gone, and there isn't much news to cover in Flyerland today, I decided to focus my attention on prospect outlooks. My collaborator (who has a name, just not a blog-friendly nickname yet) texted me the other day asking which guys in the system are going to make an impact next year. I will admit that this hasn't been my strong suit. I was in love with the prospect of alexander drosdetsky playing in orange and black after we drafted him in 2000, but that never came to fruition. i am also fond of adam morrison, albeit mainly because he shares a name with my favorite shaggy-haired college basketball player.
But nonetheless, I answered back saying "wellwood, testwuide and maroon on the O. marshall and bourdon on the D. backlund could be solid if he needs to play for us, but I refuse to say that we need another goalie save for injuries. Plus my boy is gona be between the pipes in a few years." My boy of course being Joacim Eriksson. If you don't know him, Wikipedia it.
Without getting into Eriksson, who won't be NHL ready until 2012 at the earliest, the other guys are pretty solid. I figured I'd throw an entire line up out there. Three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie.
Without further ado, analysis.
Eric Wellwood (Wing)- We drafted Wellwood LATE in last year's draft. Now, in any other sport, a sixth round pick is typically lucky to have a career in the minors, let alone play at all in the bigs.. but hockey is different. My favorite non-flyer besides Peter Forsberg (who i classify as a Flyer, seeing as how he's played with us, and I have a draft day card of him in a flyers jersey which was printed apparently seconds before we traded him and half the city of Philadelphia for Eric Lindros.) is Pavel Datsyuk. He was taken in the 6th round. His line mate, Henrik Zetterberg was taken in the 7th. So was Evgeny Nabokov. I understand that these three guys are european, and the chances of drafting North American talent of that caliber this late are very slim, and i can all but assure that Wellwood won't be anywhere near that good, but he does seem to have the tangibles to be a solid guy in the pros. He is the brother of NHLer Kyle Wellwood, who I've always been fond of. I say best case for Wellwood right now is a solid depth guy playing on the 3rd or 4th line. And I just realized that he is younger than I am. Hmmph!
Mike Testwuide (Wing)- Testwuide is older than I am. He is also much, much bigger. 6'3/210, to be exact. He was signed as an undrafted free agent, and I like his chances at the pros. If Dustin Byfuglien (who I hate) can be a dominant power forward, there is no reason why Testwuide can't. Especially on this roster. There isn't much I can say about the guy that NHL.com already hasn't (search 'Mike Testwuide' for the article) but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the best of the six guys I just named will be Testwuide. The man himself said it best when he said that he thinks he is ''big, skilled and nasty''... just like the Flyers.
Pat Maroon (Wing)- Another big guy, at 6'4/225. He might be more skilled than Testwuide, and I would say that Maroon will come up to the pros first out of the two. But the big talk around town right now is that Maroon had a disappointing last season playing for the Phantoms. I would say that might have something to do with the fact that the whole team kinda had a bad year (most likely because karma is what it is, and Ed Snider bastardized the Spectrum and sent the Phantoms to upstate New York, but I promise I'm not bitter.) I say that we need to give Maroon more time. We don't have a pressing need for another forward on the pro roster, so we can afford to be patient with him. I think it will pay off. Plus, his name is similar to Pat Falloon. What's not to like!?
Marshall, Bourdon and Backlund tomorrow.
Around the League:
Having lost out on Ilya Kovalchuk, the kings and rangers are supposedly going after the same forward right now. My money is on that forward being Jason Spezza. My second guess would be Marc Savard, although I still don't think he would fit in LA.
Then there is Kaberle.. and the twelve thousand teams who are interested in him. There is a rumor about Minnesota being in on that, but I don't see that fit either. I find it infuriating as a former sports management major that the Wild wouldn't re-up Marian Gaborik last off-season, but they're supposedly looking to make a splash this year. But the Wild aren't my team, so what ever must be, must be.
Since I wasn't blogging when Antero Niittymaki signed on in San Jose, I never got to say anything about it. My fans (all two of them) know that I have a hardcore crush (which is solely sports related, I can assure you) on Antero. He has been a star on every hockey stage (Europe, AHL, Olympics, International) except the big time. He started off splendidly.. he was MASTERFUL in his first three pro games. I thought we had a winner, but like every other guy we've had in net, we gave up on him too early. But this neither the time nor the place. There is an article on espn.com from last year praising his play in Tampa (just for the record, they had one of the worst defenses in the league last year.) When he hit the market, my collaborator and I ran through the list of goalies available (this is back when we thought that Leighton was gone.) We both ultimately ended up with a dream scenario of Leighton and Niitty in net next year. Obviously that didn't happen. He went to San Jose. As a Flyers fan, I am disappointed, but as a Niittymaki fan, I'm glad he's getting at least another shot to be a starter in the NHL. With an astute offense in front of him, mind you.
(I'm going to make it a habit to try and close out each blog with tidbits about our goalie of the future.)
According to hockey's future, Ericksson is the second rated Swedish goalie born in 1990 behind only Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom was taken in the 2nd round in the same draft that Ericksson fell to the 7th.
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.