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Are The Flyers Better? Should They Have Made Those Trades?

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Well hey, remember me? It’s been awhile folks, and for that, I apologize.

Since we last talked (I think when Dubya was still in office), a few things have happened during the NHL’s off-season.

I don’t remember exactly what, but I’m pretty sure the Florida Panthers hired some actual NHL players, the Philadelphia Flyers had some grenades explode in the middle of their dressing room, and the Sabres found their long-misplaced wallet.

Crazy stuff.

Since there’s not a ton of news in the hockey world these days, let’s talk about those things, one at a time, of the course of this week. Started with the most compelling story….

These are not your grand-pappy’s Flyers

Actually, that header for this section sucked. These aren’t even your Flyers from last season. I’ll save the full overview paragraph, because by now you know the gist of what happened, so…Cole’s Notes: cornerstone guys that would ensure the Flyers would always be at least playoff-level-good Mike Richards and Jeff Carter got traded for a whole bunch of “yeah that guy’s pretty good’s” and the right to overpay a very good goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov.

Oh, and they signed Jaromir Jagr.

…Wait, what? Seriously? Hm.

Maybe he wasn't the most lovable guy, who knows?

Anyway, the team has gone from the decades-long philosophy of ”if your team is good enough, you just need a living goaltender to win” to “goaltending is obviously the most important position on the ice.”

Here’s an uncommon opinion: I don’t hate what they did.

Detractors of the trade will cite that they were in the Stanley Cup Finals just a couple years back with a similar looking team, and that’s fair. But let’s keep in mind it’s not like they mowed through a Conference that they were clearly the best team in. They just got hot at the right time, as teams occasionally do.

The picture going forward for this team, is that they have to get by some mighty fine teams at the top of their conference, and they didn’t feel like what they had was going to be able to do it.

Philly never seemed to be able to get past the big moments in the past (save for the comeback against the Krejci-less Bruins). Something was just…off. Whether it was in the dressing room or on the ice, there was something missing…. They always just seemed good, yet rarely great.

If that’s how they felt in the front office, which they clearly did, I’m okay with them heading in a new direction.

I don’t think there are many people out there making the case that they won’t be good next year, it’s just a matter of if they’ll be better or not. They’re still well-stocked up front, on defense, and finally, in the net. The past two Stanley Cup champions have relied heavily on depth throughout playoffs, and I think they got better in that regard.

They still have enough play-makers to score, and in the dressing room….sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth when it comes to leadership. Whether the guys like him or not, having less people that’ll openly resist Chris Pronger’s occasionally overbearing form of it is a good thing. He’s dragged teams to the Final before, and he can do it again.

You can’t really know until you see them play but I’m curious…what do you think?

Comments

11 Responses to “Are The Flyers Better? Should They Have Made Those Trades?”
  1. Rob says:

    I don’t think the Flyers will be better next year, but they probably will be down the line. Obviously key guys like Carter and Richards are a big loss, but the core of the team got younger. Richards is only 26, but he was replaced with a 2012 draft pick, Brayden Schenn (19) and Wayne Simmonds (22). Carter is also only 26, but he netted a 2011 first round pick (Sean Couturier – which everyone seems to agree is a great pick at #8), 2011 third round pick, and Jakub Voracek (21).

    If Scheen and Couturier develop into the players people expect, and Voracek and Simmonds play well and continue to grow, the Flyers could have a very good team in a few years. Especially when you add Van Riemsdyk (22) and Giroux (23). They may have trouble on defense as Pronger and Timonen are their go-to guys and both happen to be 36.

    The most puzzling part of this whole shake up is the fact that they gave Bryzgalov so much money and so many years. I think they definitely overpaid and who wants a 40 year old goalie on their roster?

  2. vx inTN says:

    I bet Holmgren wakes up at night thinking, “But I could have had Voukoun for a LOT less…”.

    Like Boston always hunts for that dominating defenseman (Orr-Park-Kluzak(well…)-Borque-Chara), and Montreal looks for the ‘next’ flying frenchman, Philly is forever looking for the next Parent/Lindbergh. Its just in the DNA of the team.

    I dont dislike what they’ve done (well,…maybe Jagr….); I’ve always admired a GM that will blow up a good team in the quest to get better and win it all. Dat boy’s got some stones. I predict less points, but deeper in the playoffs.

  3. jtbourne says:

    Yeah Rob, it’s definitely a bright future. That’s one thing they deserve credit for: like Detroit, Philly has been good for what feels like my whole lift.

    VX – I like the concept of a team’s DNA…. I may have to run with that at some point.

  4. jtbourne says:

    By the way, everyone: if you have any cool hockey videos that you think are worth sharing, you can send them to me at jtbourne@gmail.com, and I may use them through Easton at some point. Just a little crowd-sourcing. Thanks!

  5. Neil C. says:

    I don’t think they were bad trades, but I’m really surprised that they moved Carter AND Richards and that both deals moved the team in the same direction (younger). Still…. they have two young guys who are supposed to be in their prime, making big money on long term deals, playing top 6 minutes with all the PP time they want, and they haven’t cracked 70 points in two years. Still, I have a hard time thinking they are in a better place this season to win than last season. Pronger being healthy will be a big piece.
    What a difference a few weeks make in the goalie market hey? Vokoun for 1.5 to a Conference rival after you trade keystone players to overpay Bryz, that’s gotta hurt.

  6. Neil C. says:

    btw who are their top line centers now?

  7. Pat says:

    Neil C., Briere is (and IMHO always has been) their #1 center. Giroux was their #2 for most of last year. I bet their lines next year look something like:

    JVR-Briere-Hartnell
    Voracek-Giroux-Jagr

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they move Giroux back to the wing with Schenn and Couturier coming down the pipe. But I think that while they might take a step back next season points and even playoffs wise, they still got pretty good bounties for both those guys. And in the future (as a lot of you have already pointed out), they’re incredibly deep.

  8. Josh says:

    I would bet that most likely JVR will be playing with Giroux as they were the only two guys on the team that were any good in the Boston series and they looked damn good together during it. Which means you probably have Voracek playing w Briere and Hartnell (is that an upgrade from Leino? Can’t tell, but he has the talent) and Jagr playing with the kids, which should be interesting.

    I would doubt that they move Giroux back to the wing. One of the reasons Carter became expendable was because they wanted to keep Giroux at center and Carter was useless on the wing. Schenn is likely your third line center (in the Jordan Staal mold) and perhaps a replacement for Briere when his contract is up in a few (3?) years. I still don’t quite understand the trade of Richards, but we’ll see if the moves make them better.

  9. Sioux in the Cities says:

    Any thoughts/comments on the formation of the new NCHC and what that means for UAA and the WCHA?

  10. Andrew says:

    Are they better or worse? Who knows, really.

    I think there are a lot of reasons for the trade.
    1) Ownership probably told Holmgren, go get a goalie or your fired.
    2) They looked at their depth and said, we can’t keep our top 4 guys (Richards, Carter, JVR, Giroux) forever, and then had to make some decisions.
    3) Carter has had some injury issues which have decreased his value.
    4) They realized that they made a decent playoff run (despite being swept in a fairly tight series), without a goalie, without Pronger, without Carter and with Richards contributing very little offence.

    I think Carter and Richards are more expendable than the fans thought (myself included). I was absolutely shocked when they traded Richards. He was my favourite player on my favourite team. I didn’t get a lot of work done the rest of that afternoon. But now I’m over it. Let the Brayden Schenn era begin!

    Lastly, a team doesn’t just trade it’s cornerstone player and captain out of nowhere without a reason. I’d bet there is something about Mike Richards that the public doesn’t know. Maybe he’s horrible in the locker room. Maybe he’s not that great leader everyone thinks he is. Maybe he parties too much. It’s anyone’s guess really. But I’m sure there is more to it than “moving in a new direction.”

    A question for JB everyone: To get a top-end goalie in the NHL, is it necessary to overpay (or get really lucky with a young guy)? It’s seems as though the value of goaltending has increased so that these guys can all demand insane salaries. The population of goalies that are good and available is so low that a Bryzgalov can demand to be overpaid.

  11. petshark says:

    I like the addition of Jagr. The New Look Flyers, good or not, are bound to be unsettled with so many changes. Jagr’s a vet and I think he’s more likely to be a help than a hindrance to the group. Similarly, Pronger’s style and experience, overbearing or not, will provide useful leadership. I hope he’s able to play.

    I don’t think the 2011-12 Flyers will be better than last year’s, but I sense that this is an intermediate step. I don’t think Kimmo will get his Cup, but Schenn, some time down the road, will be very helpful… to some Flyers team.

    I wonder if the fact that the team did so well in 2009-10 didn’t interrupt some larger plan that involved moving Richards or Carter sooner, made Snider/Holmgren hesitate. The extension to Carter’s contract is just plain bizarre in light of what just happened. It isn’t as if a lifetime contract is easy to move.

    I hope Briere didn’t rely nearly so much on Leino as some suggested.

    I don’t like the abrupt change of philosophy re: goalies. We saw some marvelous goaltending in the playoffs but those teams didn’t get there on that alone. I really don’t think moving Carter and Richards both and then overpaying Bryz was rational or necessary. I guess it’s possible that the team felt one or both forwards were disrupting group chemistry. Still, I don’t see how they could have been hurting the team so much as these radical and seemingly unsystematic changes to the roster. I must be missing something.

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