Taking a Flyer
Two things have become apparent about the Philadelphia Flyers over the last few seasons. First, goaltending will always provide punch lines and easy columns for hockey writers around the world. Second, the defense of the team will never be healthy. Of the two, defense is the one they should be concentrating on right now. Ilya Bryzgalov is not as bad as he appeared for almost all of last season, and with his contract moving him would require giving away the farm.
What the Flyers should have done instead of just rolling the dice on Shea Weber was go after a multiple defensemen. The only two things they should have been worried about in those players are:
- 1: Is this defenseman historically healthy
- 2: Can they play 22 minutes or more a night and be a positive contributor in that role?
Getting two, or even three defensemen that this is true of would ease the load on Bryzgalov, and give them a shot at doing something in the playoffs.
Bryan Allen has played a little below that twenty two minute level and was a UFA as of July first. The defense first blueliners humongous big frame would have made a world of difference in helping clear pucks from in front of Bryzgalov. Bumping him up even one minute a night over last year’s totals in Carolina make him hitting two hundred or even two hundred and fifty block shots a no brainer.
While not a long term solution, Bryce Salvador is another player who knows how to win. He’s a guy who wants to win, and again would make Bryzgalov’s live much easier. Given the overall youth of the Flyers team, his experience would help fill the Pronger gap. He too was a UFA.
On the trade front, it is possible that sending one or two picks and or players someplace like Saint Louis leads to a solid young blueliner or two in return. They need offensively gifted and healthy forwards as badly as the Flyers need healthy, reliable defenders. With the cap space available to the Blues, and a new ownership group settling into the driver’s seat this past May, pushing along their change could have been good for both sides.
Also much rumored to be available is one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL. Jay Bouwmeester. He hasn’t missed a game since the lockout. He’s got three double digit goal scoring seasons under his belt, he skates well. He plays in all situations, and currently has Jarome Iginla and no one worth mentioning to play with in Calgary. Playing in Philadelphia with the forward group they have I’d be shocked to see anything less than 50-55 point seasons.
Whatever else happens between now and the next time the Philadelphia Flyers take the ice, they need to address their defense. It doesn’t matter if that day is October of 2012, January of 2013, or some later date. They have prospects and players they can move. With Pronger likely never to return, Liljas down checked until close to January, and Meszaros out for who knows how long the Flyers will have about ten million in cap space to play with and multiple roster spots to fill.
Without a solution for their defensive problems, the Flyers can’t go anywhere. If Bryzgalov plays as badly as he did last season, the forwards would have to be on a 500 goal pace for team to have home ice in the first round. There is a lot of talent in that group, but not that much.
Hockey This Week
@PuckSage should probably apply for the next open General Mangers job in the NHL, even blind drunk, he’ll be more competent than some of the guys with the job now.