The Flyers continue to change up their roster as they have signed agitator Maxime Talbot to a reported 5 year deal worth $9 million. Talbot has pestered the Flyers for years as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he amassed 52 goals, 108 points and 324 PIMs in 5 seasons in the Igloo. The feisty center/winger fills the spot left vacant by rival and fellow pest Dan Carcillo. One has to wonder what GM Paul Holmgren is thinking with all these moves.
By: Tim Brennan
According to the Flyers twitter account, the team has signed forward Jakub Voracek and free agent defenseman Andreas Lilja. Voracek came over in the trade with Columbus for Jeff Carter and became a restricted free agent earlier today. Lilja is a #6 defenseman who is being brought in to replace Sean O’Donnell, who signed with the Chicago Blackhawks an hour ago. Voracek scored 14 goals and 46 points in 80 games last season for Columbus while Lilja posted 1 goal and 7 points in 52 games with the Anaheim Ducks.
According to the Flyers own Twitter account, the team has signed Jaromir Jagr to a one year deal. Jagr looks to make $3.3 million this season according to Darren Dreger of TSN. The Flyers seemed desperate to add a goal scorer to the lineup since they haven’t been able to get Ville Leino under contract and traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter a few weeks back. Jagr was negotiating a contract with Pittsburgh and Detroit earlier this week but both teams backed out prior to the start of free agency today.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Devils have re-signed defenseman Andy Greene to a 4 year contract. Greene recorded 4 goals and 23 points while playing all 82 games in an up and down season for New Jersey. Even though he ended the year with a -23 plus/minus rating, Greene has potential as a puck moving defenseman and a building block for what the future will look like on the Devil’s blueline with Matt Corrente, Matt Taormina and recent first round draft choice Adam Larsson.
The Flyers have chosen Sean Couturier with the 8th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Couturier played last season with the Drummondville Voltiguers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League posting 36 goals and 60 assists for 96 points in 58 games. The 6-4, 195 lbs. center has a great skill set and uses his size to his advantage. His offensive instincts and hockey sense are strong attributes but his forte is his ability to protect the puck while in traffic or under pressure. Scouts project that he will be a second line center who will average 60-70 points per season. It looks like Paul Holmgren found a replacement for Jeff Carter. To see what Couturier can do and will bring to the Flyers in the future, check out this video:
By: Tim Brennan
June 23rd, 2011. This will go down as a historical day in the eyes of people who live and breath Flyers hockey.
During the early stages of the day, the Flyers traded forward Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for right wing Jakub Voracek, a 1st round pick (8th overall) in this year’s draft and a 3rd round pick (68th overall). This move was seen as a major salary dump to enable the Flyers to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, whose rights they acquired June 7th. General Manager Paul Holmgren went ahead with a deal, signing the 31-year-old Russian netminder to a 9 year, $51 million contract that will put an annual cap hit of $5.67 million per season. Holmgren wasn’t finished however as he pulled the trigger on a trade that would send captain and franchise cornerstone Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings for hockey’s best prospect center Brayden Schenn, rugged winger Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick in next year’s draft. When the dust settled, the Flyers had traded two centers earning close to $11 million combined and added a top rate goaltender.
What was Paul Holmgren thinking when he traded away two big names, signed a 31-year-old goaltender to a long-term, big money contract and basically altered the face of the franchise?
Although Holmgren was determined to land Bryzgalov, it comes as a shock that he traded both Carter and Richards. Ever since these two were selected in the first round of the 2003 draft (11th and 24th overall respectively), the Flyers brass have made it clear that these two were going to be their future stars and would become the face of the franchise. The team solidified their position by signing both to long-term deals; Richards to a 12 year deal in 2007 and Carter re-upped for 11 years in 2010.
The two were an important part of the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Phantoms, Calder Cup championship team in 2004 and joined the big club after the lockout. Richards drew comparisons to Flyers legend Bobby Clarke because of his ability to combine skill with a physical edge while Carter was deemed to be one of the team’s purest goal scorers in a long time. Both of them impacted the team immediately and proved the scouts right as Richards accumulated 133 goals and 216 points for 349 points in 453 games as a Flyer, including 23 shorthanded goals and made history by scoring 3 3-on-5 shorthanded goals for his career. Meanwhile Carter posted 181 goals and 343 points in 461 games, including two 30 goal seasons and a 40 goal season while becoming a league leader in shots year after year.
The only problem was all of this success didn’t always carry over to the post season. Richards, who has a reputation as a winner, won a championship at the junior level with the Kitchener Rangers along with a gold medal with Canada but hasn’t been as dynamic in the NHL playoffs. The past few years have shown that he hasn’t been able to step up as he pulled a disappearing act during the Stanley Cup Finals last year against Chicago, posting a measly 2 points in 6 games while recording a horrific -7 rating and did the same during this year’s semifinals versus the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the Boston Bruins. Carter has been just as unproductive during the post season, scoring 13 goals in 47 games which accounts to .28 goals per game, well below his regular season average of .40 goals per game.
Rumors have been circling Carter for close to three seasons now so it wasn’t a shock that the Flyers decided to move him. Due to the team’s strength down the middle, Carter has been moved around to all three forward positions so as to create a scoring balance. In a sense, it appeared that he was being pushed out while he was still on the team. With the emergence of Claude Giroux in the past few seasons and James van Riemsdyk’s impressive effort in this year’s playoffs, Carter was the odd man out. It also didn’t help that he goes through stretches of inconsistent play and has a propensity for turning over the puck and being lazy.
It came as a surprise that the team traded their team captain and playmaker Mike Richards, but people within the organization might have known this was coming. There were the stories about problems within the locker room between Richards and defenseman Chris Pronger, prior to the firing of head coach John Stevens. There was also the clashing between Richards and the media after they suggested that his partying lifestyle was affecting his performance as well as the team’s performance, which led to his refusal to talk with the media. His captaincy has been called into question numerous times and there were rumors that coach Peter Laviolette and Richards didn’t see eye to eye on how the team should be run. Due to his strong bond with Holmgren, the decision to trade him more than likely came from the top. It wouldn’t surprise me because Ed Snider has always been a critical part to major decisions the organization makes, such as the Lindros debacle in 2000-01.
Paul Holmgren did an excellent job of giving the other teams what they want and supplying the Flyers with what they needed. Carter provides the Blue Jackets with a number one center that they desperately needed to gel with star Rick Nash. Carter has the potential to continue scoring 30-40 goals a season, maybe even 50. Carter joins former teammates R.J. Umberger and Scottie Upshall on a Columbus roster that looks alot better while Richards will provide the Kings with a dynamic two-way game and give the team a great one two punch at center along with Anze Kopitar. Richards will be comfortable in L.A. with close friend and former coach John Stevens on the staff along with other people who have been associated with the Flyers organization in the past such as GM Dean Lombardi, assistant GM Ron Hextall and head coach Terry Murray.
The Flyers in the meantime got alot younger with the acquistions of Voracek, Schenn and Simmonds. Schenn is arguably the best prospect in hockey and will get a serious look during training camp this summer. The future looks great with Schenn being a projected superstar center with a knack for scoring goals, playing physical and being a force in both zones. Voracek is a big winger who has great hands and good vision of the ice. He wasn’t utilized that much on the Blue Jackets so coming to Philly to play as a top 6 forward will help his development. I’m excited to see what he can do playing on the same line with fellow youngsters Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Simmonds is a tough winger who is tailor-made to don the orange and black. His ability to use his size to his advantage and score goals means that he will be a nice fit with the Flyers system.
Only time will tell whether the moves made on this day will help push the Flyers over the edge to a Stanley Cup championship or just keep them wondering where have we gone wrong.
The NHL season has finally gotten underway after a long summer and it’s time to predict how each team will do this season. Here’s how I think each team will finish come season’s end. The asterisks designate division leaders and the teams in italics designate non-playoff teams.
- Washington Capitals*
- Boston Bruins*
- Pittsburgh Penguins*
- New Jersey Devils
- Buffalo Sabres
- New York Rangers
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Ottawa Senators
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Montreal Canadiens
- Atlanta Thrashers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Florida Panthers
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- New York Islanders
- San Jose Sharks*
- Detroit Red Wings*
- Vancouver Canucks*
- Los Angeles Kings
- Colorado Avalanche
- Phoenix Coyotes
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Calgary Flames
- St. Louis Blues
- Anaheim Ducks
- Nashville Predators
- Minnesota Wild
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Dallas Stars
- Edmonton Oilers
The defending Eastern Conference champs made a statement last night when they came to face their cross-state rival Pittsburgh for the first game ever to be played in the newly constructed Consol Energy Center. Not only did the Broad Street Bullies claim victory in Pittsburgh’s home opener, they also did it with a new rookie goaltender who absolutely stole the show.
It came as a shock to everyone that Brian Boucher was not named as the starter for Thursday night’s game, seeing as starter Michael Leighton is currently nursing a back injury. The Flyers usually go with the veteran goaltender in a situation such as this but instead went with Sergei Bobrovsky, a 22 year old Russian native who played the last 4 years in the KHL for Metallurg-Novokuznetsk and was signed by Philly in May. Due to a great pre-season in which the youngster allowed only 8 goals in 7 games, Bobrovsky was selected as the second goalie instead of Johan Backlund.
Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots in his NHL debut and kept Philadelphia ahead in the score when the Penguins put on some serious offensive pressure. The first period was a huge test for the rookie goaltender, as he faced 15 shots behind a sloppy defense. The Flyers didn’t seem to be in sync during the opening period of play, with Pittsburgh gaining odd man chances and one time opportunities in the slot time after time.
It wasn’t until the second period when Danny Briere scored the game’s first goal that the Flyers finally settled in. Philadelphia tallied six seconds into a powerplay as Mike Richards point shot was redirected in by Briere, who was standing to the left of the goal mouth. Later in the period, Blair Betts gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead when James van Riemsdyk’s shot careened off Marc-Andre Fleury and hit Darroll Powe, who was charging towards the net for a rebound. The puck kicked out to Betts, who buried it into the empty goal.
But Pittsburgh struck back in a big way with the start of the third period. Tyler Kennedy put one home just 44 seconds in to give Pittsburgh their first goal in the brand new arena. The Penguins worked the puck around in the Flyers zone until Paul Martin skated towards the net and sent a cross ice pass to Kennedy, who fumbled at first, but then fired a snapshot to the far side post after Bobrovsky slid out of the crease.
Philadelphia would counter however when Claude Giroux intercepted a pass and went in on a breakaway, deking Fleury out of his pants for a shorthanded marker, putting his team up by two. The Flyers didn’t even have a chance to settle in when Alex Goligoski skated down low and tipped a shot from the blueline by Zbynek Michalek for a powerplay goal. Bobrovksy fought off the Penguins scoring chances in the final minute of the game, coming up big and making key saves when the team needed it. Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin ended the game with zero points, making Bobrovsky’s debut a huge success.
Even though the Flyers beat Pittsburgh, it could have been a whole different story. Aside from Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle, the Flyers defense looked sloppy and ran around way too much in their own zone. It didn’t help that Philly’s forwards couldn’t get the puck out of the zone to begin with but the defense wasn’t making good decisions, throwing the puck blindly up the boards or making weak breakout passes that were being picked off. For the most part, the Flyers were having a rough time staying with their man, often drifting away to go after the puck carrier, which led to entirely too many wide open back door plays which were either squandered by Bobrovsky or the post. The physical presence wasn’t there either as the defense resorted to pokechecks before bodychecks. That might have something to do with towering d-man Chris Pronger sitting on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The Flyers first line was the most disappointing of all, with captain Mike Richards, goal scorer Jeff Carter and pest Dan Carcillo skating around as if it were still pre-season. All three didn’t put much effort into playing defensively, or offensively for that matter. The Penguins top line ran over them all game and it’s no wonder why they combined for just 4 shots. The Flyers need this line to get jump started or they are going to have problems during the rest of the season. The Briere-Leino-Hartnell line seemed to be clicking, which is great for Flyers fans especially after the enormous success the line had during last year’s Stanley Cup run. The combo of Giroux and van Riemsdyk led to some of the team’s best chances and were the team’s best forwards, while newcomer Nikolay Zherdev had a lackluster evening. Even the fourth line chipped in, with Blair Betts putting one on the board and Darroll Powe setting the pace with several big hits.
If the Flyers want to continue to dominate as they did during the playoffs last year, they need to get their act together because this game could have easily been a victory for Pittsburgh. They have an opportunity to improve upon their performance Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues.
To view highlights of this game, click below.