Philadelphia Flyers: the gift of giving
General Manager Paul Holmgren
Is there a quick remedy to fix this Flyers team? Of course not. But while Philadelphia continues to struggle, it leaves us with two glaring questions.
One; how did this happen to a team that was favored to win the Stanley Cup? And two; how can it be fixed?
While we can point fingers, explain how poor the on-ice play has been and complain about the leadership, I will tell you how these problems can be fixed.
Blunt, but I’m being honest. The excuses from the management first started with the coach. After a three-game skid, John Stevens was fired for Peter Laviolette. Following the change, they still lost. The next excuse; it takes time to get accustomed to a new coach. The Flyers are 2-7 under Laviolette.
Flash forward to right now -- the Flyers have three wins in their last 16 games, THREE.
Player personnel, the Flyers have no competitiveness, come out flat night after night, lack a true legit scoring threat and as CSN writer Tim Panaccio told me yesterday: “This is just awful these days.”
So what needs to happen? A major shake-up.
The Flyers need a player who can be counted on as their ‘go-to guy’. A player who is a consistent threat, someone who isn’t afraid to skate with the puck and is creative with the puck and can take a game-over. You can read all of the reasons as to why the Flyers need someone like that here: http://tinyurl.com/y8q73y4.
For a trade like that to happen – here is who I would be willing to part with…
…Anyone outside of Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.
Most of the Flyers come to the rink every night and expect to put up points because of their nameplate on their backs and end up not giving 110% effort every night. They’ve got their contracts and can’t rely on pure skill to succeed.
Scott Hartnell (4.2m yr. UFA 2013-14); takes too many stupid penalties, can’t handle the puck. Jeff Carter (5m yr. RFA 2011-12); is too one-dimensional, lacks play-making ability and could be a big negative in the locker room. Simon Gagne (5.25m yr. UFA 2011-12); gets injured too easily, is barely noticed when on the ice and seems to mail it in game after game. Braydon Coburn (1.3m yr RFA after this season); defensive play has suffered, very slow first step and has gotten worse year after year.
Despite the negatives that I’ve listed, these players have tremendous upside, and all have good traits that other GM’s would like.
So what should the Flyers try to get in a player? Right now it’s tough because everyone has been playing so poorly. First and foremost the Flyers need to make a move to get a first round pick in '10, that's first on the list. Also gives them cap relief.
The Flyers have 27 goals in their last 16 games, are scoring just over 1.5 goals per game and that is absolutely terrible. After a trade for a draft pick, the Flyers definitely need to get a consistent scoring threat, preferably a winger.
Also, trading away some guys who are guaranteed money and bringing-up talented young guys who are playing for a contract will be beneficial. The top-6 forwards in Philly know they’re not playing for jobs and bringing up talented forwards from Adirondack would likely change that mindset.
After this season, I let Carcillo, Asham and Pyorala walk, and sign Powe and Betts. This gives the Flyers an option to bring up some talented offensive players who just need time in the NHL and can play some minutes on the third and fourth line instead of having grinders and enforcers on their third and fourth line. This helps solve the competitiveness problem and gives the Flyers a little more offensive depth.
The trade Holiday Trade freeze is over on Dec. 27th so come hell or high water, we’re ‘stuck’ with this current roster until then.
Now to the fun part -- who the Flyers’ need and who I could see playing in Philadelphia.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Bobby Ryan, Alexander Frolov , Ales Hemsky , Alexander Semin, Wojtek Wolski, Dustin Brown, Fabian Brunnstrom.
I know most of these guys would be signed to a long-term deal in Philly, and I mentioned right now that is part of the problem in Philly, but these guys come to play every night and are difference makers.
Unlike most of the Flyers who were signed for 4+ years, most of these players have proved they deserve do be signed long-term based on factual information, not just potential.
More importantly these guys have legit talent and offensive flair. These are players who don’t have to rely on a dump-and-chase system to score goals. They’re confident enough in their own game to carry the puck and create chances on their own.
Kovalchuk – Unrestricted Free Agent after this season and will be one of the most sought after Free Agents in recent memory -could demand one of the biggest contracts in the NHL.
Ryan – Restricted Free Agent after this season, Anaheim could lose Ryan to an offer sheet, and already have a lot of money invested in the forward position. Ryan is making 1.9m a year and will more than double his annual salary.
Frolov – Also a Restricted Free Agent at the end of the year, Frolov has been under heat in LA and could be moved to make room for some of LA’s young guns coming up through their system.
Hemsky – Unrestricted Free Agent after the 2012 season, but has a moveable contract hit of 4.1m per year and like Frolov, could be moved to make way for prospects coming-up in Oiler country.
Semin – With all of the fire-power in Washington, Semin could find himself on the trading block so Washington can fill other team needs, like defense. Semin is one of the most offensive players in the game and is in his final year of a contract, making 4.6m a year. He will be an RFA at seasons’ end.
Wolski – 2.8m cap hit, the RFA is getting plenty of heat from the kids in Colorado, and could be a valuable trading chip for the Avalanche.
Brown – The LA Kings have a ton of interest in Hartnell, Carcillo and Coburn and could be willing to part with their captain in a package for some of those players. Brown is one of the most complete players in the game and has a very manageable cap hit of 3.1m a yr. Like Frolov, could be moved to make room for some of LA’s young guns coming up through their system.
Brunnstrom – One of the most sought after European prospects of recent memory, Brunnstrom recorded a hat trick in his first NHL game but kind of has been underperforming since. He is an RFA and will demand a raise from his 2.55m contract hit at the end of the year so he could be shopped.
Kovalchuk is the Filet Mignon of the group. One of the best five players in the game, can dominate a game and scores goals at will. His contract is up after this season and will be a UFA, and would need to work out a deal with Philly before the trade is agreed.
The hot rumor right now is C.Giroux, J.Carter and R.Parent for Kovalchuk. Although it is one of the best in the game, I don’t think Giroux is going anywhere. With that said I think the Flyers could offer a deal just as good. Hartnell, Carter and Coburn. This 3-for-1 deal will open up two roster spots for young offensive and defensive kids to get some ice time for the Flyers and gives the Flyers one of the best snipers in the game.
There will be a bunch of teams that offer Atlanta a package for Kovalchuk is he isn’t resigned so some of those offers will include better prospects, but I truly think the Flyers can offer one of the better packages with legit, NHL-ready talent. Not just unproven prospects.
My second option is Bobby Ryan. Ryan has it all, speed, strength, size, everything. He can get to the net and player the power forward game, but more importantly, what I like the best, is that he isn’t afraid to make plays and take chances carrying the puck. Look on youtube and Ryan’s high light reel goals –can you remember the last time the Flyers scored a goal like that? I can’t. Ryan has tremendous skill and would be a superstar in Philadelphia.
The Cherry Hill native could find himself being the center of many offer sheets when his contract is up this season. And right now in Anaheim, the Ducks, who are underperforming like the Flyers, need to fill their second line center position badly, and the Flyers need a scoring winger.
The rumor is Bobby Ryan and a first round pick for Jeff Carter. A deal that helps out both teams tremendously.
Option three is Semin Frolov or Brown. The Kings love some of the Flyers and in my opinion would be willing to part with /FrolovBrown. If he goes, it would be in a package deal – a deal that the Flyers would likely get some prospects back also. Semin doesn’t fit Philadelphia’s style, but tell me why it has to be that style? The Flyers have historically shied away from Europeans and Russian players and I think that needs to change. Alex Semin is the kind of offensive player the Flyers need.
For either of those players I think Hartnell would be the center-piece.
The Broad Street Bully days are over. The Flyers will never win if that’s their mindset entering season after season. It’s a new game now and the attitude in upper management has to realize that.
I think a trade is inevitable and rightfully so. Holmgren has lots of players that GM’s want, now it’s just a matter of pulling the trigger on the right deal.
Make it happen.