Better With Popcorn

The Philadelphia Flyers - Moving Forward

The 2010 campaign for the Philadelphia Flyers has been a season of inconsistency.

One night the Orange-and-Black look like a Stanley Cup contender, the next – not even like a playoff contender. Is there a real answer as to why this happens? Why there seems to be something lacking in their game? Or why there is always a mid-game lay-off? Well, I’m sorry – but you’re not going to find that exact answer here but I will try my best.

Last night the Flyers easily handled the lifeless Flames, 3-0 in Alberta. It was a total team effort and a complete game. Something Flyers fans would love to see more of. But, tomorrow night in Edmonton could be a different story (It better not be, the Oilers are the worst team in the NHL). Point is – Flyers have trouble putting together a complete, 60-minute effort.

Earlier in the week, the Flyers signed defenseman Lukas Krajicek for some experience, but more importantly depth on the blueline. With Danny Syvret and Ryan Parent on the Injury Reserve and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen’s bouts with back-to-back injuries, this is a move that had to be made.

He was signed to a one-year contract for $700,000; leaving the Flyers with just over $10,000 of cap space.

Krajicek, a former first round pick, is a solid puck-moving defenseman who has an upside as he is considered a very good skater – something the Flyers can obviously use on their back-end.

I like the move as a band-aid, but the Flyers need a more long-term solution on the blue line.

Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen aren’t getting any younger and let’s be honest: their days are numbered at 35 and 34 years old. In addition to their age, the Flyers obviously have salary cap issues. Ryan Parent, Braydon Coburn, O-KT, Danny Syvret and the before-mentioned Krajicek are all free-agents at the end of this season.

That leaves the Flyers with Timonen, Pronger, Matt Carle and Oskars Bartulis as the only defensemen signed for next season.

Parent’s health is a big issue as he never seems to be healthy; Coburn has been the defensive whipping boy of Philadelphia fans for the last two seasons as he has taken steps backwards; and O-KT and Syvret are both sixth defensemen at best.

With the Flyers ongoing goaltending issue, it would make sense to solidify and bolster the defense in front of the net.

Bottom line: another top-end defenseman added to the Flyers blue line would do wonders for the O-and-B.

In Tim Panaccio’s latest story on CSN he mentioned that the Flyers and Flames had talks regarding Dion Phaneuf, if you follow me on twitter or regularly read my work, I was all over the Phaneuf to Philly rumors.

Here’s what Paul Holmgren had to say in moving forward: "We might want to still do something on defense and forward, but not in goal," Holmgren said.
Which brings me to my next point… A consistent scoring threat is something the Flyers need at this point, almost as much, if not more, than strengthening the D.

Enter a sniper who can dominate a game, one of the top-five best players in the world, number 17 of the Atlanta Thrashers: Ilya Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuck ($6.4m) would bring a dynamic scoring element to Philadelphia and would instantly make the Philadelphia Flyers a better team.

The problem – it’s going to take a lot to get him here, and he is going to want to be paid.

And rightfully so, Kovalchuk has scored 328 goals over the last seven and a half seasons – that’s 44 goals a year.

Tim confirmed in his story …

“One NHL executive said that the Flyers have had intermittent talks with Atlanta over Kovalchuk.

Atlanta General manager Don Waddell met with Holmgren at last week’s game and discussed matters. Waddell scouted the Flyers himself on Saturday during the Isles game but did not meet with Holmgren, the source said.

"Find one winger, one defenseman that adds up to what Kovalchuk makes and the Flyers could do this deal," the source said.”

The problem would be making the money work and being able to re-sign Kovalchuk after the season is over.

Kovalchuk is after an Alex Ovechkin level of money, and the Flyers don’t have that. A glimmer of hope is that it has been reported that Kovalchuk would take a pay-cut to play for a contender.

For Kovalchuk to become a Flyer, in my opinion, the Flyers would have to send Jeff Carter and his $5-million cap hit the other way. Homer has stated this season that Jeff Carter will not be traded, but I’m not buying that. I’m not drinking the GM kool-aid.

Any deal with Carter (who is a FA after next season) and a combination of players -- outside Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk -- could make this deal work.

Carter ($5m), Hartnell ($4.2m) and Parent ($850k) – is obviously enough money.

Carter and Carle ($3.5m) would clear space.

Carter and Coburn (FA-$1.4m) would clear the space.

Bottom line is the Flyers can acquire one of the most dominant NHL players over the last five years – if they want it to happen and they want to drastically make the Philadelphia Flyers a better team, they will do it.

The Flyers are a good team, but they’re missing a couple pieces.

When was the last time the Flyers were the number one seed entering the Playoffs? The Flyers have never been a clear-cut favorite and dominated the regular season. They’re always the 3, 4, 5, or 6th seed.

Bringing in a superstar would likely change that. It would take some pressure off the Flyers forwards and would give the Flyers some much needed fire-power to compete with Washington and Pittsburgh in the East.

The Flyers need to get better – and a deal like this would do it.