Flyers Go 'All In', Grab Versteeg
The Philadelphia Flyers have shown in the past few years that they are willing to improve their team before the NHL trade deadline. But for a team that looked primed for a repeat Stanley Cup appearance, many wondered if the trend would hold true this season.
General Manager Paul Holmgren made a move on Monday evening that sent a first round and third round pick in the 2011 draft to Toronto for Kris Versteeg. Although there had been speculation recently hovering around the Flyers and their interest in Versteeg, many thought James van Riemsdyk would have to go the other way. Holmgren’s move prevented the movement of JVR, and in doing so it added to an already extremely deep list of forwards.
Many will probably point to the lack of draft picks the Flyers have had recently as a cautionary tale in relation to the trade, but that would be misplaced. Holmgren has shown a penchant for making the right moves, including the trade for Chris Pronger that saw the Flyers send two first round picks to Anaheim. That move has worked out perfectly for the team, and the Versteeg trade should as well.
When the deadline started approaching, the only position that could have been pointed to as a need for upgrade was a forward for the first line. Andreas Nodl showed promise at the beginning of the season, and now he has become much more of a defensive player. With van Riemsdyk also struggling to score, the albatross seemed to grow heavier around Captain Mike Richards’ neck. Now, that albatross should be lifted. Versteeg gives Richards a quality winger that will make plays, and it should open up the ice for van Riemsdyk as well. On the season thus far, Versteeg has 35 points on 14 goals and 21 assists. His point total will now be the fifth highest on the team.
It is more than conceivable that the Flyers will attempt to trade Nikolay Zherdev now that they have added to their depth. With 15 goals on the season, Zherdev could help any team that’s looking for offense at the deadline. He’s also been a healthy scratch numerous times for the team, which would make one think he could be moved. Whether or not the Flyers make a move will be revealed, but regardless they will remain under the salary cap by about $100,000.
With Versteeg in the lineup, here’s a look at what the lines may look like:
van Riemsdyk- Richards- Versteeg
Hartnell- Briere- Leino
Carter- Giroux- Zherdev
Carcillo/Shelley/Nodl- Betts- Powe
The top three lines will pose problems for most teams to defend. And, before the trade the Flyers were already the Eastern Conference’s highest scoring team. Obviously, Versteeg will have to develop some chemistry with the Orange and Black, but his talent should make the transition somewhat easier.
Let there be no debate, the fans in Philadelphia are starving for a Stanley Cup parade down Broad Street. So too are Paul Holmgren and Flyers’ owner Ed Snider. In one of the franchise’s best seasons to date, the front office looks to be going ‘all in’. Although some will dispute that they are hurting the future of the team by shipping away draft picks, there’s no disputing that a hoist of the Cup will make everyone forget those picks.