I really should have started blogging earlier. I missed out on writing about so much (winter classic, trade deadline, playoffs, and the draft.. for the love of god!!! the draft!!).. but hey, all that means is I get to write about that stuff next season.
It's also too late to talk about the Shelley and O'Donnell signings, or the Meszaros trade. But I'll cover that when the off-season is over and I review it all.
Let me start by saying I am excited about Nikolai Zherdev. I wasn't at first, but in my first blog, I said something to the effect of "between Zherdev and JVR, one of them will step up and play like the top 5 pick that they are." And I believe that. I don't, however, believe that we need to bring in another Russian like some people are saying. There's talk that we need to bring in one of Zherdev's fellow countrymen to ease his transition in Philly. This, while a good idea in theory, is ridiculous. He's a grown man, he speaks English, he's played five seasons in the league... I'm sure he'll be fine. I'm more concerned about what number Zherdev will wear.
I kid you not, I googled this the other day and saw something about him petitioning the league to wear 99. Now, mind you, this wasn't official, this was on someone's blog and was shorter than a twitter post. "Nik Zherdev is petitioning the NHL to wear 99!" I don't buy it, I think it was just anti-Flyer propaganda. The couple hundred angry comments on that post only reasserted my feelings.
So what number will he wear in Flyers orange?
I don't know, and per five minutes ago, the Flyers don't even know. I had my money on 13 before we re-signed Carcillo, but there's word that he's going to wear 10. I also fear that 12 is in the mix. As far as I know, It could go either way.
10- This seems the most likely, and a few internet sources have anonymously confirmed this.
12- Too soon. WAY too soon. I would be on board with us un-retiring 16 for Zherdev before we gave him 12.
13- This has been his number throughout his entire NHL career, but it's also Danny Carcillo's. I doubt he'd switch, or even be asked to.
71- He's Russian. This, while unlikely, just seems like a common, and sick (in a good way) number for Russian forwards. Plus, it just looks fast.
99- Won't happen, but it would look kinda nasty, I guess. I'm not a fan of league-wide number retiring anyway, so I wouldn't mind it. Wayne Gretzky was great (for all we know he was the second coming of Jesus) but he didn't play for the Flyers. If Jordan's 23 is still allowed in basketball, than 99 should still be allowed in hockey.
Kevin Marshall (Defense)- Marshall is barely older than I am, and he's already one of the most promising prospects in our system. This is depressing. Hockey's future has him as the second ranked Flyers prospect behind only Joacim Eriksson. He was a second round pick in 2007 and he's listed at 6'1/191. I think he plays the game like Matt Carle, but Marshall might be a little more physical. He's definitely quick, but he's got a good balance between using that speed and staying at home. His junior stats were solid, especially for a defenseman, but that wasn't the case in his first season with the Phantoms. He's got some work to do, but he's showing promise. I'm not worried, especially with the pro roster looking the way it does. And of all our defense prospects, Marshall might be the most NHL-ready and will probably be the second most common call-up option behind Bartulis. Who I also love.
Marc-Andre Bourdon (Defense)- I really like Bourdon, our first of two third round picks in 2008. At 6'0/206, he's another smaller offensive defenseman. Like Marshall, he's a puck mover, and he's got speed, but he's a little less physical. Bourdon's also got more work to do if he is to develop into a full-time NHLer. As is the case with Marshall, the cards are stacked against him, because he plays defense and we're set there. He had a solid year playing for the Phantoms in front of Johan Backlund and about 90 other guys (seriously, look it up, the Phantoms played 10 different goalies last year). When all is said and done, I think Bourdon will be a solid 4 or 5 guy in the pros.
Johan Backlund (Goalie)- An undrafted free agent in 2009, Backlund plays like he should have been drafted. He's a solid goaltender, and for all intents and purposes, is pro-bound. I remember reading an article before the playoffs started this past year suggesting that Laviolette start Backlund going into the first round. Totally ridiculous, but solid points were made. Anyway, Backlund has 12 solid years in Sweden under his belt, and for all intents and purposes, a very promising AHL season. (21-17, 2.79 GAA). He recently re-signed for two years, so look for him to make a push for a pro spot in training camp like he did last year.
Around the League:
I'm still jazzed at the possibility that Kovalchuk doesn't play for the Devils next season. However I am troubled, from a sports management position, by the fact that Gary (Bud Selig v.2.0) Bettman denied the Kovalchuk deal, even after he's let Hossa, Pronger and Luongo get signed under very similar circumstances. It's obviously possibly for teams to take advantage of the salary cap, and I agree that needs to be reviewed and such, but to let some guys in and others out seems unfair (and inconsistent; ala Bud Selig). If you are going to crack down on rule violations (or loopholes) do it consistently across the board. Even if by being inconsistent, it means you could possibly be screwing the Devils.
David Perron re-upped with St. Louis today. I like both the player and the team, and the fit between the two. Perron is good, he plays hard and he plays fast. He isn't a superstar, but watching him play, he looks like it sometimes. Plus, he wears #57, which is obscure.. and I like obscure.
Little by little, I am losing respect for the LA Kings. Apparently minutes after the NHL rejected the Klusterchuk deal, LA came crawling back to Ilya. One guy isn't going to put that team over the top. The Kings are built slightly like the Flyers in that their best hockey is played as a team rather than by placing the burden squarely on one man (Crosby, Ovechkin, Brodeur) so I doubt Kovalchuk would be the missing piece to that puzzle. He's good, great even, but he didn't get the Devils out of the first round, so it's unlikely to me that he'll manage to do that for LA. I think they need to reassess their options and move on. Although in theory, Kov playing on a line with Kopitar would be FILTHY (in a good way)!
Speaking of the Klusterchuk fiasco, rumor has it that LA might be in on Marian Gaborik, which would open up the Rangers to getting Kov (I'd rather him play for the team where superstars go to die than the Devils so this is couth with me.) In this scenario, Gaborik gets traded to LA and the Rangers sign Kovalchuk. Gaborik is one of my favorite non-flyers, he may even be at the top of that list. And he plays more of a team-centric game than Kov, so I feel that he'd be a better fit in LA. And he'd be cheaper. Just saying.
In 2008/2009, the Flyers' goalie of the future had the best Goals Against Average in the Swedish J20 SuperElit league.
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.