Making Sense of it All

Dan Hershberg is the brilliant mind behind Philly Phaithful. He's also a hardcore hockey nut. These are his words, giving some much needed perspective to perhaps the biggest Flyers news day ever.


On the surface, with the shock value, it's a lot to digest. How could a team that was soooo close to winning the cup blow it up so shortly thereafter? While it was clear that they needed to get Bryzgalov signed after trading for his rights (with everything said by Mr. Snider in the post-playoff fallout), one could argue that they could have accomplished the goal by moving a few auxiliary pieces–Versteeg, Carle, Coburn. While signing Leino would have been difficult, as they still would have been up against the cap, they could have kept their nucleus in tact and challenged for the top-4 spots in the conference.

But once you dig a little deeper, the moves make a lot of sense for this team. 


The Maturation of Claude Giroux and JVR
Having two players of this quality softens the blow of losing your two 'franchise players'. Giroux has already proven that he is an elite talent deserving of top-line minutes in all situations. JVR needs to show that his playoff performance was more than a flash in the pan, but the level at which he played in the playoffs indicates that he's much closer to being an impact player than we had previously thought. Watching Laviolette double shifting each of these guys consistently during crunch time, along with their tenacity in all areas of the ice, should give Flyers fans confidence that they can seamlessly take the mantle of leaders from Richards and Carter.

The Goalie
As crazy as it seems, a 9-year, $51-million deal for a franchise goalie got third billing today. Because we've spent the last week discussing the trade for his rights, the completion of the deal has been more of a when than an if, leaving us to focus more on the cap-clearing moves than the acquisition of a top-5 goalie in the middle of his prime. The acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov is unquestionably the most important development today in a day when developments were far from scarce. It's safe to say that not many Philadelphia-area televisions were tuned into Fox Sports Southwest during Coyotes games over the last few years. Had they been, they would have watched one of the most dominant players in the NHL carrying a team on his shoulders. The statistics (.921 SV PCT, 2.35 GAA) only tell part of the story, as many of the saves he made over that time have been huge saves: not just in quality, but in importance. Phoenix ranked 14th in the NHL in goals scored this year, 24th the year before. In order to win games, the Coyotes leaned heavily on Bryzgalov and he delivered. No one can point fingers at the organization. They've added an elite talent at a reasonable cap hit in his prime.

The Prospect
Brayden Schenn is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in hockey. And with good reason. At the World Juniors, Schenn had 18 points in seven games…which tied the all-time best mark for a Canadian forward. Just in case you hadn't heard, Canada produces a fair amount of talented hockey players. None had more points than Schenn in that tournament in the history of the event. To acquire a player of his potential, without asking him to lead a team at the ripe young age of 19, is a major coup for the Flyers. NHL-ready, he can slide into the 3rd line center role and develop into a more impactful player than either Richards or Carter. While prospects are just that–unproven players–they are not readily available, and the Flyers did very well to bring him to Philly.

The Draft Picks
As hard as it is to believe, the Flyers actually acquired draft picks today. Three of them. Given their recent history of dealing picks, the infusion of three young players to the organization can't be understated. Adirondack was BAD, with a capital B. And while they haven't had much opportunity to do so lately, when the Flyers select early in the draft, they've done well: Luca Sbisa, JVR, Claude Giroux, Steve Downie, Richards and Carter are the most recent 6 first rounders. Quite an impressive list.

The Cap Space
We have some! As of writing this, the Flyers will be almost $10 million under the cap with six RFA's to sign (including Simmonds and Voracek who were acquired today). That extra wiggle room should allow them to resign Ville Leino, ink Simmonds/Voracek/Powe and fill out their roster as needed, while also giving them the ability to make a move or two down the road, if needed. That last fact can't be understated, as they've been bitten in the ass before when it comes to making deals with no financial flexibility. 

The Defense
With Chris Pronger's health in flux and Kimmo Timonen beginning to show some signs of aging, it was imperative that the Flyers keep their current stable of defensemen. Signing Bryzgalov is great, but trotting out Erik Gustafsson and Kevin Marshall as a third pairing can only work for so long. See Krajicek, Lukas and Bartulis, Oskars. If Pronger is unavailable to start the regular season, they are currently equipped to move forward in his absence. Had they sacrificed Carle or Coburn to get cap compliant, that would not likely have been the case. The organization dealt from a position of strength–they are deep up front and could afford to move Richards and Carter given what they received in return. The D is every bit as good as last year, and we now know that Andrej Meszaros is capable of playing increased minutes in most situations.

The Other Guys
Simmonds is made for Philadelphia and exactly the type of guy we need: gritty, physical, willing to get into the dirty areas…but also with enough skill and jump to back off defenders at the blue line. His addition will go under the radar, until Flyers fans see him play. Voracek is only 21, and could use a change of scenery from Columbus. A streaky scorer, he will benefit from playing alongside a playmaking center like Giroux, something he never had in Columbus. Another guy with high-upside, the Flyers brass has to be thrilled to add him to the lineup. Even though he wasn't acquired today, Flyers fans should give Kris Versteeg a second chance. If he suits up in the orange and black next season–not a given considering the team is rumored to have more moves up their sleeves–Versteeg is an excellent two-way player with a good motor and the ability to play all situations. His defensive zone play was borderline atrocious when he came over from Toronto, and his offensive output somewhat limited, but he is a shifty player who played hurt and should be given a chance to mesh with linemates before final judgment is passed.

All in all, you can't blame any Flyers fan who isn't caught up in emotion today. Carter and Richards were labeled as the future and led the Flyers through a deep depression (2005-06) into three incredibly successful years of near misses. Say what you want about either player–on or off the ice–they are top flight talent who immediately make Columbus and Los Angeles better respectively. That being said, the Flyers were backed into a corner. Everyone in the league knew that they'd have to sign Bryzgalov and at least one impact player would need to be moved. Considering the circumstances, Paul Holmgren did nothing short of an amazing job today by reshaping the Flyers roster into a younger, more dynamic team capable of winning not just now, but well into the future.


20 Responses

  1. Schenn had BETTER be awesome. Otherwise we got seriously hosed on that deal.
    MUCH rather have seen Homer dump Hartnell & Versteeg to make cap space.

  2. Very Good perspective Dan! I agree…after the initial OMG shock factor has faded…the deal looks very promising, probably won’t know the results until April. I am a huge Richie fan, and will miss watching him play in any situation…but i THINK i am on board with these moves…THINK…

  3. Whoa, I’m surprised with the comments about Versteeg. I always thought that he was a good player that got a bad rap by coming here at the wrong time. I feel like people will always link him to the Flyer’s collapse of last season. Although, he does make the occasional boneheaded play by trying to make a move in his own zone, get stripped and then the team gets scored on, hmm..
    These trades were definitely a hard pill to swallow, but it really does make sense for the team. Always will miss Richie. I’m sure all the pucksluts will miss Carts.
    I also hear rumblings about the possibility of going after Stamkos. I didn’t even know he was a FA. Anyone else hear this?

  4. So, they just threw Bobs away like a sack of shit. I also hate losing Richards. Sure, everyone they got in return has a lot of potential… but potential doesn’t always pan out. Now we have an unproven (small market experience, never has performed in the playoffs) goalie stuck with us for 9 effing years. It’s a panicked reaction to Sniders’ desire to have a goalie. Bob had a great rookie year and they won’t even give him a chance. One playoff series in which the ENTIRE team played bad apparently made everyone forget what a beast Richards has been for years. Idiots. I should also make perfectly clear that I DO like the players that we got in return. However, I feel that those players give us a chance to win in a few years… and wasn’t Sniders’ point in wanting a goalie to win NOW? Talk about the playoffs this year all you want, Richards was/is a top notch two way center. Who’s going to take the valuable penalty killing time that he put in? In the end, I hate and sort of like the overall moves made yesterday. My worry is that the potential doesn’t pan out and this turns into a blockbuster bust rather than the roster move day of the decade.

  5. @evaporationboy his .921 SV PCT, 2.35 GAA was against the WESTERN CONFERENCE. redwings, sharks, cannucks, blackhawks, preds. thats not small market experience

  6. Evaporation you couldn’t be more wrong…The Flyers did not give up on Bob instead they helped him. He now has a mentor that speaks his language. We are not getting 9 years out of Iyla that 9 years was to drop the cap hit. So lets say he gives us 6-7 years. Bob will get a good 10-20 starts a season and learn from Iyla. So in 6-7 years how old will Bob be? 27-28…27-28 is still very young for a goalie. Look at the goalies around the league and their avg age. We didnt say “screw” bob we helped him for the future. Here is a question for you…in the 8 years Carts and Richie was here what do you remember? Carts…his inability to show up in the playoffs and lift the puck 6 inches see fluery, Marc-Andre x2. Richards…his heart? Heart doesnt win the Cup sorry. He did nothing for this team he was one of the worst captains. He dug his own grave this year with the way he handled the media and the way he handled this team. He didnt get along with Lavy and was not a real captain. I dont get why people are so upset about this. We got rid of 2 cancers and signed a #1 goalie along with Simmonds, Voracek (former #7 overall pick), #8 pick this year and the #1 NHL prospect in Schenn. This was a monster deal that is great for the Flyers. Go look at boston and tell me who the leading scorer was this year and you will realize that Defense wins championships. As this reporter said, we had the depth upfront and we dumped it. In return we received more players and can stock the farm which right now is awful.

  7. Really? Regular season numbers? How about 3.44 gaa .906 SV% in 2010 in the playoffs and 4.36 GAA .879 SV% this year in the playoffs. You know… when it matters. I’m not sold on him until he proves that he can walk on water.

  8. Man I love the die hard Flyer fans crying over “Richie, Carts and Bob”…. the fact I dont have to hear those gay nicknames make the trades all worth it. I loved the deals as they happened and I love them even more after reading this article. Dont forget the draft is tonight and we are in position to move up in the top 3 or 4 to acquire some serious young talent. Unlike the NBA draft, the NHL draft has 3-4 guys ready to play NOW

  9. I love the discussions here, such a tough decision to make and thats why Im glad Im not GM. I think Homer has proven he knows a thing or two (or a lot more than that) and I trust him. I do. I think he is one of the best GMs out there. It sucks to see Richie go because he embodied Flyers hockey. He did leave it all out there so to speak. Carts was a sniper and had his moments but I figured he was out. Guess I have to re-up on my jersey collection.

  10. @John P.
    I have heard a few people here and there mention something about him possibly coming to philly. But I think its a distant rumor.

  11. At least one of the two teams who are drafting this week had the balls to shake things up. Who’s fired up about the Sixers draft picks?!? This move is very interesting. It has the potential to be a HUGE mistake or one of the greatest days in Flyers history. Love it or hate it, it is going to be a very exciting season.

  12. This is a great article. While we all love Richie and Carter and it’s hard to see them go, we got A LOT in return, plus we don’t even know that that 1st pick is. Plus it is kind of overlooked that we now have a goalie. I’m very excited already for the potential and good blend of youth and veterans on this team.

  13. Maybe these guys should have taken the hints they were given about serious off ice issues and cleaned up both their acts…Homer was tired of paying for their bad habits and I just don’t mean partying with chicks…Produce,show up early for training camp Captain and stop the crap off the ice and play your asses off…simple or your both gone in 30 minutes It was a message to the rest of the guys also.

  14. @GL, you forgot about “Mezzy”, “Groo”, “Harts”, “Prongs”, “Steegy”, “Carbomb”, and now “Bryz”. where there is love, there will be nicknames. lol

  15. I’m not going to pretend that I know hockey even a little bit, but what I do know, and what I just finished seeing last week, is that you need top notch goaltending to help win the Cup, and the addition of Bryzgalov (I call him “Breezey”) helps immensely. No more stiffs, scrubs, question marks, has-beens, never-weres and headcases which is pretty much what we’ve had in goal for the last quarter century.
    As for the trades of Carter and Richards, I was surprised. I figured one (Richards) might go, didn’t think both would be shipped out, that’s a lot of offense that went to Columbus and La-La Land. Unless another trade goes down tonight during the draft, then Giroux, JVR, Leino, Versteeg (if he’s still here) etc had damn well step it up a few extra notches to make up for all that scoring which just left town.

  16. My buddy who is a Kings fan said we’ll like Simmonds, he’s going to fit right in – glad to see that confirmed in the article – and the kid is going to be a stud. He just started to get the game speed down, so he may have moved through the learning curve in L.A. and ready to contribute right away. And this lets them have cap room, not only this year but the next several…c’mon, 11 and 12 year deals, we oughta be thanking the Columbus and L.A. gods for taking those saddles off our backs. I’m already excited for the start of the year…and oh yeah, fuck the nfl. Go Flyers!

  17. @Evaporation would you like see Jeff Carters Playoffs stats? How about Mike richards? Both were pretty much invisible when we needed them. 6 years on the team and the only thing we can remember from Richards is 2 years ago when we were 2 wins away from a cup. BTW Leino, Briere, and Pronger were carrying the team then. Carter sucked as usual and Richards fed off one great series against Montreal…So stick with the guys that for 6 years did nothing for this team or move onto something else? If schenn turns into a stud everyone will be saying Richards who?

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