by Michael DeNicola
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 --
If there's one thing we can count on in the offseason, it's that the Flyers keep us just as entertained off the ice as they do while they're on it.
A plethora of reports hit the wire all throughout Tuesday, and each had our fanbase buzzing like a hornet's nest. Although everyone knows how I feel about Flyers beat writer, Tim Panaccio, he's still one of few ears to the ground on the Flyers front line of rumorville.
Panotch first sparked some chatter by tweeting that the Los Angeles Kings have contacted our management about backup backstop Jonathan Bernier --
Bernier is considered one of the higher goalie prospects in the League, and apparently the asking price is steep. At age 24, Jonathan plays second-fiddle to LA's elite netminder, Jonathan Quick. In five seasons, Bernier has a total of 62 NHL games played (29 W, 20 L, 9 OT/SO L), six shutouts, a .912 save-percentage, and a 2.36 goals-against average.
Ol' Bern is coming off of a 2012-13 season after having posted a .922 SV%, 1.88 GAA in fourteen games-played.
With a *possible compliance buyout on the horizon for current goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, Bernier would be a sensational piece to begin building around. Especially when he has his old WJC teammate, Steve Mason, as his twine partner. That's one hell of a tandem.
*I'll touch on this "possible compliance buyout" in a bit.
But what's the price tag on Bernier?
Look, I can appreciate the potential Jonathan Bernier encompasses as a young goalie who's ready to be a squad's #1 brickwall, but potential (certainly when the player in question has only 62 NHL games to his current resume) doesn't score you a Jakub Voracek.
There's a reason outsiders are beginning to kick the tires on Jake the Snake; he's durable, he's young, he's a legitimate Top 3 forward, and it seems he's transitioning into a pure-goal scorer.... ya know, a player the Flyers have needed since... well, since John LeClair and Tim Kerr.
It's obvious that Matt Read's our biggest trade chip; the kid not only comes with a $900K cap hit, but he's easy on a team's payroll and he's a bona fide Top 6 RW/LW who can pocket 20-goals in a season.
"So then why are the Flyers eager to trade Read?"
Because he's also 27-years old, there's far less potential now to tap into, he'll be an unrestricted free agent and he'll be due for a pay raise the same time RFA's like Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier are looking to extend their stay in Philadelphia.
Besides, there are major holes on-and-behind the blueline that need far more attention than the talent skating on the Top 12. Getting jostling defensive return on a skater like #24 is what behooves this organization the most.
Matt Read actually makes sense for Los Angeles whose biggest criticism of late has been their lack of scoring. The Kings have also inked 23-year old defenseman Slava Voynov to a fresh six-year, $25M extension, they have ten free agents coming up this summer, five next summer (one of which is captain Dustin Brown), and a tad under $8-million in cap space to sew all these holes.
Speaking of holes behind the blueline....
Bryzgalov WON'T be bought out?
I'm not amused....
Ahhhh, yes. Contradicting reports, further feeding and festering the delights of offseason drama. It's like watching an opera, except the singing's shittier and the only thing close to a "fat lady" are blogs on Winnipeg Jet defenseman, Dustin Byfuglien.
We're all very much aware that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has a history of telling us one thing, then turning around and executing the exact opposite. He's like a defective Magic 8 Ball but more cryptic and infuriating. Only difference is.... ya can't just violently shake Homer until you get the answer you're looking for. You always seem to have to half-expect the contrary result.
Nevertheless, using one of two compliance buyouts on Bryzgalov's extensive, cap-crippling contract is what's best for this team in the short- and long-term future. Not to mention the fact that CapGeek.com has our payroll space set at NEGATIVE $7,802,262. All thirty NHL teams have no choice but to be cap compliant; it's like death & taxes, it's a certainty.
After (allegedly) finalizing a 4-year, $21M deal with newly acquired UFA Mark Streit, the Philadelphia Flyers must shed weight off their budget.
It was a long time coming, so let's file this "breaking report" right next to 'smoking causes cancer'.
Before any of you read too into that last remark, let me be clear; Briere is not, nor was he ever, a cancer. Danny has been one of this team's greatest leaders through the years. Unfortunately I've spent the majority of his orange & black tenure ignorantly hating his $6.5mm existence leaning against our cap, but only recently have I found a new respect and appreciation for #48. It's true Danny's production hasn't matched his astounding cap hit, but it'll be a very bitter-sweet day when we all have to say goodbye.
Though it is not official until 48-hours after the Stanley Cup Final concludes, Danny Briere will no longer be a member of the Broad Street Bullies. A staggering 80% of his buyout relief will immediately be soaked up by Mark Streit's $5.25mm average annual value. So -- if I may revisit the Bryzgalov "buyout" -- it's going to take a lot more than Briere's subtracted contract to bring this team down to the $64.3-million ceiling. All the more sense to drop the second (and final) amnesty on top of Bryzgalov....
....though I'm sure he'd just duck it
WHO'S READY FOR TRADE RUMORS!?!?
It wouldn't be a Flyers offseason without an accustomed Bobby Ryan grapevine.
This is what annoys me most about our fanbase; we hear a rumor about a particular player outside our organization for the first time, and then all of a sudden he becomes our next Lord & Savior. It's annually been that way over Jarome Iginla when he was a Calgary Flame, it's the same way with Shea Weber, and it could not be truer with Anaheim's LW Bobby Ryan.
Is Bobby a prolific scorer? Without a doubt. If added to Giroux's flank, would he make that first Flyers line a boner-inducing wave of domination? More than likely.
Bobby has six-seasons of experience with the SO-CAL Ducks, potting 30+ goals in four of those seasons. He's what the hockey planet refers to as a "pure-goal scorer".
Anaheim wants Braydon Coburn in return? HAVE AT HIM! I don't necessarily dislike Coburn, and I also do not believe he's on a downward spiral like so many others do. But this team has its number of middle-pairing defensemen and not nearly enough finish up front. Though bettering our defense would greatly improve our scoring chances, Bobby Ryan's the type of proven skater that would help the Flyers offense flourish in the business-end of the rink.
But our 11th Overall pick? I admit, I'm hesitant to accede.
Against what so many of you fans believe, signing defenseman Mark Streit was not a knee-jerk reaction. I've admittedly disclosed my dislike for the length of Streit's contract (two-years too many), but there are too many future variables to consider to allow myself to get overly upset about his contract's life.
Streit's ilk will immediately impact Philadelphia's zone breakout. It'll strengthen the chances through neutral ice, and ultimately increase our scoring percentages in the opposite end. That's what an asset like Streit brings to a team's table.
Not only does Streit's presence aid the Flyers today, but he'll also serve as an intermittent solution to the role Timonen's retirement leaves behind. Before Streit, there hasn't been anyone in our system that's even close to filling Kimmo's role.
This is where that 11th Overall Draft pick comes into play.
As Timonen hangs up his skates, Streit -- being one of the better offensive-defensemen in League history -- will help stitch the offensive-defense and breakout aspects for the time being. Meanwhile (rewinding to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft), I am hoping the Flyers use their first-round choice on an offensive-defensive prospect, properly allow this d-man to develop and groom his game in the farm league(s), and then promote him to the NHL in either Years 3 or 4 of Streit's contract.
Instead of 'reacting', this would be a series of moves executed under the sole purpose to control our situation through the short- and long-term future; a concept so alienated from this organization that it's like watching one of those bizarre Japanese porno films....
Bobby Ryan may be one hell of a hockey player, but mortgaging another potential piece to our future is what stagnates the team from getting over the Cup hump in the first place. Sure, Philadelphia's philosophy has kept this team competitive through an overwhelming majority of our franchise history, but those Stanley Cup days are long gone, we're in a bit of cap trouble today, and I'd much rather watch our management build a roster through the Entry Draft. I want to see our young players mold and grow with each other, and develop into Champions as a team. This cannot always be accomplished by just piecing a roster together with a handful of individuals, doesn't matter how talented they are independently.
Why not DRAFT our own Bobby Ryan? These types of players aren't just found in the first- and second-rounds, either. Case and point, Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit's jaw-dropping Warlock, was taken 171st overall in 1998's Entry Draft by the Red Wings.
I get it, that's more of an anomaly than it is a bi-annual occurrence. But the argument can still be made. The bigger question is, does this team and its fanbase have the patience?
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