Time to shake off the cobwebs and get back into the grind, fans.
Over the last two weeks, I've been off getting hitched and honeymooning in Hawaii with my beautiful wife (still not used to saying that). But now that the vacation is over, I'm home and ready to jump back into breaking down the latest Flyers news.
However, I'm not sure if I can call what's happened over the Fort Night "latest" news. So I'll say now that this article is strictly an opinionated piece.
I left off with my report on the Flyers re-signing (G) Michael Leighton to a 1yr contract worth $900K. That alone was about the only news to break on Free Agency's official opening day, July 1.
Since then, we've stewed in Rick Nash rumors, questioned whether Holmgren was still in talks with Anaheim over Bobby Ryan, experienced the wrath of the awaited decisions made by both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and have seemed to place the possibility of Shea Weber in an Orange sweater further and further on the back-burner.
Midst all the buzzing around the League are the home-felt, mixed emotions from our Philadelphia fanbase over the departure of defenseman Matt Carle, who has officially signed in Tampa Bay, 6yrs/$33M ($5.5mm AAV). We all believed our general manager when he told us he was certain our organization could re-sign the 27yr old blue liner under market value. But because the Calgary Flames decided to ink marginal defenseman Dennis Wideman to an absurd 5yr/$26.250M ($5.25mm AAV) deal, it has set the bar for all 29 other Clubs league-wide and their free agent d-men.
In short, Calgary's illogical imprudence screwed over our chances at getting Carle back under that $5mm AAV price tag. There are some who believe he's worth what Tampa's paying him, but that isn't relevant now. That's what Carle's being paid, and it ain't from Ed Snider's pocket.
Matt Carle has left a bad taste in all our mouths one time or another throughout his tenure as a Philadelphia Flyer. For that, a large portion of our fanbase was glad to see him go. Though I don't mean to draw ignorant assumptions, I believe it's fair to say the majority of those fans haven't considered the facts that he's a tremendous beakout passer. Or how his durability could never fully garner a price tag. Or how --despite what you may believe-- now we're out a solid #2,3 defenseman who's taken his averaged 37.6pts/season (in Philadelphia) south to Florida.
Frankly....I could care less about those who are more than happy to see Matt leave. In the middle of all the frustration he's caused with his turnovers and/or mild physicality from the blue line was a forest of positives that defined regaining possession in our end and developing the chance on the opposing zone. Matt Carle was an asset to the Philadelphia Flyers. More so than many are willing to admit or acknowledge. I argued how pairing Matt with a right-handed linemate and moving Carle to his leftside could cut his turnovers in half. I argued that the new addition of Luke Schenn could take some of the onus of being physical off of Carle's shoulders so that he may focus and apply his game to his more stronger attributes like the breakout pass. But none of that is relevant now.
And what have we done (so far) to fill that void?
Don't get me wrong; Bruno is a decent defenseman, and a right-handed one to boot. Adding another righty on the blue line bolsters our depth against (what I'm calling our biggest concern defensively) the forecheck. But Gervais is a third-pairing defenseman at best. In no way does he come close to adding the universal groundwork that was spread from the likes of Matt Carle.
Hey, it's only July 16th. We're still months out before pre-season begins. There's plenty of time to make free agency moves, but as we stand today....we're a much weaker team than we were June 30th. Not just defensively, but upfront as well.
The One & Done Jaromir Jagr has (at the time it happened) surprisingly signed a 1yr/$4.5M contract with the Dallas Stars. I say again...
The 40yr old right-winger, Jaromir Jagr, signed with the DALLAS STARS (my reaction to that).....for FOUR AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS (my next reaction).
I can laugh at that money all I want, but it won't make that cavernous hole to Giroux's right fill up with the awareness and authority Jagr's left behind. I could begin lobbying Jakub Voracek, but there's been little talk of how re-signing him to an extension has progressed. I'm almost at a point where I'm saying to throw a large sum of money at Alexander Semin for one-year (if Holmgren hasn't already), but that diva wants a multi-year contract. The Flyers are NOT that desperate.....yet.
So in efforts to strengthen the depth of our forwards, Philadelphia's reached out and penned Ruslan Fedotenko to a 1yr/$1.75M deal. Ruslan spent his early career with the Flyers from 2000 to 2002. Since then he's been a Bolt, an Islander, a Penguin and he's coming off two seasons with the New York Blueshirts.
As Broad Street Hockey's reported, Fedotenko started 64% of his 2011-12 shifts in the defensive/neutral zones where he's taken on "rough assignments" defensively. He's a solid two-way forward who calls the left-side of the rink his home. Though he could aid Philly offensively with a handful of points, he's not going to come close to what Jagr threw on the stats sheet. And if Voracek decides to vacate the Philadelphia premises, we're looking at 103-points combined (Jake & Jagr) being substituted with 20, which is what Ruslan racked last season in Manhattan.
Again, the offseason is still young. Much can happen between today and late September. But unless our rookies develop forward dramatically and have epic sophomore seasons, as it stands this minute....we have a lot of work cut out for ourselves before we can say we're as good or better than we were in 2011-12.
By no means is this time for panic, and rash, unbelievably stupid decisions like trading away a Couturier, Brayden Schenn, and/or Voracek's rights for a pricey winger like Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. But especially Coots and B. Schenner.
In the summer of 2011, the Philadelphia Flyers gave up core players to ultimately gain Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. Both skaters had incredibly exciting and impressive rookie seasons. Even more so in the Playoffs. Because of this, I firmly believe they've instantly become part of our core and join the ranks of Claude Giroux.
Picture our planet Earth. In the center of our world is a core comprised of super heated iron and other metals which pumps the Earth's lifeblood through all its layers. Without the core, our world would be a dead, floating rock in the evils of space. But because the core is alive and is literally the Earth's engine, it's given us the possibility of life on the surface and its successful continuance through time.
Same can be said about an NHL roster.
Each hockey team has its core players which pump the lifeblood through the depths of our roster. These select few lead by example, and their best stands out from the rest. Players like Couturier and Brayden Schenn carry the potential to become our team's star players and essential to our core (if they aren't already). It'd be a crime to package one, or both, and risk deleting a chunk of our talent's depth for an overpriced Rick Nash. I'm not even ready to gamble our future beyond next season by trading one, or both, to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan.
We've got something great going here, and even though I want this Cup drought to end as much as anyone.....Cooter and Schenn need to remain Philadelphia Flyers at all costs. Or should I say, "opportunity"?
So what does this mean? I'm sad to say that it COULD mean entering next season minus the talent we were hoping to gain on all ends of the ice. I'd rather stick it out and watch our younger guns battle through even tougher responsibilities and growing pains than experience another enormous offseason splash or facelift at the cost of too much.
We have the pieces to trade for players like Nash, Ryan, Weber. But there's a reason these Clubs want our pieces....
...boy, that sounded awful, but you know where I'm going with that.
Honorable mentions go to forwards Tom Sestito and Ben Holmstrom who both signed 1yr/$550K extensions with our organization. These two skaters are great plugin players when our injury status demands it through the regular schedule.
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