We are officially one week from the draft. The offseason is flying by.
O.K., maybe it’s not. It’s been two long months since we had any Flyers hockey and we have three more months-plus to go before we see a Flyers game that matters.
But, in the interim we have days like next Sunday as we try to see how the Flyers are going to be reshaped into a contender once again.
A lot of times that starts with the NHL Entry Draft. The Flyers have a great pick at No. 11 in what is a deep draft. The last time they picked No. 11 they selected Jeff Carter in 2003, also a deep draft. So, it’s safe to say the odds are better than most years that the Flyers are going to land an impact player next week.
Will they stay at No. 11? Well, there’s a lot of speculation about that as well. There’s been all kinds of buzz about moving up, or trading the pick for an established player. Either way, general manager Paul Holmgren’s iPhone is going to be blowing up next Sunday and he and his staff are going to have to decide what the best course of action might be.
We have seven days until we find out. Until then, there are mock drafts aplenty out on the Interwebs telling you who each team is going to take and why.
I figured, why not throw my hat into that ring?
I like the prediction biz, even if I’m only average at best at it, but it’s still fun for discussion purposes, and of course for bragging rights.
We’ve ran a bunch of predictions in recent weeks from our colleagues at NHL.com who put an inordinate amount of time into studying this draft. Those guys did a nice job.
Now here’s a mini-mock draft (first 11 picks) from me, a guy who knows a lot less than those NHL.com experts, but likes to think he can read tea leaves a whole lot better.
So, without further ado…(Click "Full Story" for more...)
I'm sure you all want to hear from Danny Briere... and we'll get to what he had to say in a minute.
But before I do, I want to weigh in on a couple things real quick.
1. I think Danny Briere will sign a one-year deal to play somewhere (max two years, but I'm betting he's leaning toward one) that will be for an affordable price and will be a situation where he's guaranteed a top-9 role on a team that can contend for a Stanley Cup and isn't ridiculously far from his home in New Jersey.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
In case you missed it, the Flyers traded Shane Harper and a 2014 fourth round pick to the New York Islanders today for defenseman Mark Streit.
Streit, 35, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, so the Flyers have a little more than three weeks to work out a deal with him before he can test the market.
However, after talking to Streit today, I get the sense that it won't take that long.
Below is a transcription of my interview with Streit, who is back home in Switzerland. He sure sounds like a guy who is ready to commit to playing for the Flyers and isn't looking to necessarily hit that free agent market.
In other words, this isn't the same as when the Flyers tried the same thing with Dan Hamhuis a couple summers ago...
(Click "Full Story" for more...)
There are 54 scribes in the writer’s wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, recipients of the Elmer Ferguson Award recognizing excellence in hockey journalism.
Of the 54, none have ever worked covering the Philadelphia Flyers.
That will change next Fall.
Long-time Flyers beat writer Jay Greenberg, who covered the team for 14 years (1975-1989) for both the Philadelphia Evening and Sunday Bulletin and eventually the Philadelphia Daily News, will become the 55th member of that exclusive club, voted as the 2013 recipient of the Ferguson Award by a bloc of his peers in the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association.(Click "Full Story") for more...
The Flyers began their offseason roster modifications by signing a pair of undrafted free agents to entry-level contracts, one of which could land on the NHL roster.
They inked Austrian left wing Michael Raffl and Canadian defenseman Maxim Lamarche to three-year deals.
Raffl, 24, was sought after by several teams, but ultimately it came down to the Flyers and the Nashville Predators.
The Flyers won out, signing Raffl after seeing him play for Austria in the World Championships. He had a standout game against Russia, a team loaded with NHL-caliber talent, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
“Both (Director of Player Personnel) Dave Brown and myself as well as (European Scout) Ilkka (Sinisalo) saw him at the World Championships and he’s a good player,” said Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor. “You noticed him over there. He’s got skill. He thinks the game. He’s a versatile guy and can do a lot of different things.”(Click "Full Story" for more)
Here’s hoping you didn’t bet the house on my predictions for the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Although I wasn’t incredibly far off, like my grandfather used to tell me all the time, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
I went 4-4 in the first round.
I picked Pittsburgh in six and they won in six. Yay Me.
I picked Ottawa in six and the won in five. Genius!
I picked Washington in seven, but they lost in seven. So, close!
I picked Boston in five, and, well, let’s just say I sweated out that victory.
Out west, I picked Chicago in five, and they won in five (this doesn’t sound so bad…)
I picked Anaheim in six, they lost in seven. Yeah, that one hurt a little.
I picked the Canucks in seven, they got swept. (Wait a minute, I did say it wouldn’t surprise me if the Sharks won... Did you hear a boom? What? No. Why? No grenade. So it doesn’t count!)
I picked St. Louis in seven. The lost in six. (I did say I was waffling back and forth on this pick and – Zip it!)
So, that’s it. Four to the good. Four to the bad. I cost you the vig.
And now, I’m going to frustrate you further with four new picks. Hopefully I can be better for you.
(Click "Full Story" for more...)
One of the questions that I have been asked a lot since the season ended last month has been, "How have the Flyers prospects looked this season?"
I figured the easiest way to answer it was to list them all here and have you decide for yourself.
So, without further adieu, the prospects:(Click "Full Story" for more...)
It’s easy to look at the outcome of this Flyers season and say that Claude Giroux took a step backwards.
After all, he had a monstrous season in 2011-12 finishing with 93 points and garnered serious Hart Trophy consideration.
Then, he played in the playoffs under a moniker provided by his coach, when Peter Laviolette called him, “…the best player in the world” after Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
And for a brief while, it looked like Giroux was quickly becoming the new face of the NHL. His jersey sales were through the roof. He was emblazoned across the front of the league-endorsed video game.
And, he was named captain of a storied franchise who always seems to be in the mix for the Stanley Cup.
And with all the additional attention, the spotlight grew bigger. The expectations became greater. The pressure intensified. And any misstep was going to be scrutinized.
So, when Giroux got off to a slow start in this shortened season – coming off a concussion he suffered in Germany, which has been often glossed over – immediately the criticisms were that Giroux couldn’t live up to his new title as the best in the game.
Many an expert and hockey scribe felt that Giroux could no longer play to such a level without Jaromir Jagr by his side.
And after the Flyers first 13 games, he had just seven points.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
The Flyers used 13 different defensemen this season. In an 82-game season that’s quite high. In a 48-game season, it borders on ridiculous.
Nevertheless, it’s one of the issues the Flyers faced this season, and ultimately, while the group wasn’t as bad as some may want to make it seem, the fact that they had to rely on a baker’s dozen – more than twice as many as play in a single game – has to factor into the reasoning as to why the season ended before the playoffs for just the ninth time in the 46-year history of the franchise.
Defense in hockey, like pitching in baseball, is always in demand because there’s just not enough of it out there that is considered quality in the NHL. So, when the Flyers have to basically call up an entire minor league team worth of defensemen to play in the NHL, it’s easy to understand why there were problems in such areas as breakouts, turnovers, puck possession, and ultimately, goals against.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
There are two ways you can look at the Flyers goaltending situation.
The pessimistic view would be to examine Ilya Bryzgalov’s numbers from the 2012-13 season, see that he ranked 36th in goals against average (2.79), 43rd in save percentage (.900), 47th in even strength save percentage (.907) and 26th in save percentage while shorthanded (.866) and determine that it’s a mess.
The optimistic view is to see that the Bryzgalov was actually really good until he was forced into duty every night and wore down. It’s to take stock in the fact that he actually posted those numbers behind a patchwork defense for much of the season. And that despite all the negative press he received, he still finished with a winning record.
Couple that with the addition of Steve Mason via trade April 3rd, and his impressive numbers, albeit over a very small sample of seven games (4-2-0, 1.90, .944), and the Flyers appear to finally have a worthy tandem in place.
I tend to lean toward the latter.(Click "Full Story" for more...)