Carter and Giroux Contract Extensions?

Ask any Flyers fan what their biggest worry is about the end of the 2010-11 season and just about everyone will tell you they are afraid the Flyers will have to part with some valuable assets come Free Agency. There are many Flyers that will be Unrestricted Free Agents as well as Restricted Free Agents after the 2010-11 season concludes. Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux are included in that list.

The Flyers do have a bit of leverage, as Carter and Giroux will both be RFA’s, but the Flyers are right against the cap and both players are due for hefty raises, especially Giroux, who only makes $821,667 this season. Factor in the fact that Unrestricted Free Agents like Ville Leino and Nikolai Zherdev will also be commanding hefty raises, and it seems like most likely the Flyers will have to part with somebody.

For now, it appears Carter and Giroux will remain with the Flyers. General Manager Paul Holmgren recently spoke with CSN Philly, stating that he was in the beginning stages of contract extensions for both Carter and Giroux. “I’ve talked a little bit with Rick Curran (Carter’s agent) about Jeff,” Holmgren told CSN Philly. “I think over the next few months we will get involved there. With Claude, Larry Kelly is his agent. I am hoping he comes down here during training camp so we can look into it.”

Holmgren says he will be delving more into the negotiations come Fall, but it is good to see that they have already talked about extensions. One thing is certain, it is going to be a very interesting off season for the Flyers next summer. Out of Carter, Giroux, Leino, and Zherdev, who do you think the Flyers will part with? My guess is Zherdev, but who knows. Only time will tell.

Meet the Greenville Road Warriors; New Flyers ECHL affiliate.



Meet the new ECHL affiliate for the Philadelphia Flyers, the Greenville Road Warriors.

The Flyers have announced today that they have replaced Kalamazoo, which was their ECHL affiliate last year, with the Greenville Road Warriors. Not a huge move here, but something definitely worth talking about. The General Manager of the Road Warriors just so happens to be Neil Smith, former General Manager of the New York Rangers from 1989-2000.

Smith had this to say. “To be affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers and Adirondack Phantoms will greatly enhance what it means to be a member of the Greenville Road Warriors. The Flyers are committed to winning at every level. We hope to help them with that commitment by developing their future AHL and NHL players.”

General Manager Paul Holmgren also gave his comments to the public. “Neil Smith and Dean Stork both have a strong history of success, and we’re confident they’ll provide an environment that will help our prospects develop their potential.”

Again, not a huge move, but it does make the avid Flyers fan feel a bit better about the future of the Flyers. Neil Smith had great success in New York with the Rangers, and I believe he will help the Flyers organization in developing great young talent. I for one like the fact that the GM of the Road Warriors is a former NHL GM. That means he knows what it takes to keep his players in shape and help them get  into the NHL.

If anything, it beats having Kalamazoo (what a crazy name) as an affiliate.

Does Nik Zherdev have what the Flyers need?

There hasn’t really been much talk about Nik Zherdev since it was announced he signed a 1 year, $2 Million deal a month ago, so I figured with the lack of news in Flyerdom lately, I would weigh in on Zherdev a bit more and offer some opinions.

Most of the articles you have probably read online about Zherdev aren’t exactly positive ones. He’s been called lazy, sloppy at times, and even a “head case”. He’s also been criticized for his lack of defensive play. Say what you will about Nikolai Zherdev, but his offensive talent can not be questioned. Zherdev put up 147 points (63 G, 84 A) in his 3 years with the Columbus Blue Jackets who, lets face it, were not a very good team during his time with them. He also put up 58 points (23 G, 35 A) with the New York Rangers, who also weren’t a very good team in the 2008-09 season, which was his most recent stint with the NHL.

I believe Nikolai Zherdev will have a break out season this year. Not only because he is joining an already highly offensive team, but also because there is something about Zherdev that most people have not put together yet. Zherdev is a Right Winger, something the Flyers have needed so desperately for so long now.

I’ve heard people say things like “Zherdev won’t be in Philly for long”, “He’s just a rental”, “He’s going to screw up the locker room”, but I’m not buying any of that. Sure, it’s no secret Zherdev has been known to slack off sometimes, but I think with Zherdev playing under Laviolette’s system, Zherdev will have no choice but to put in 110% every night and I think it will show come October. As far as Zherdev’s future with the Flyers, that I am not sure about. The deal is a one year deal, and if Zherdev does what I believe he will, he is going to command a hefty salary, one that the Flyers will have a hard time giving him. Nikolai Zherdev and Ville Leino will both be Unrestricted Free Agents, and Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo, Claude Giroux, and Darroll Powe will all be Restricted Free Agents, and that is just the offense. Carter and Giroux will be seeking big raises, and the Flyers are going to have to make some tough choices.

As far as Zherdev being a Russian on a heavily Canadian Flyers team, I also don’t believe that will be much of a problem either. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see that being a very big issue. I know the Flyers haven’t had much luck with Russians in the past, but the fact that they signed Zherdev and essentially let Simon Gagne walk in his place shows that the Organization has faith in him and believes he will be a great asset. The hockey world is different then it once was, times are changing.

So, what do you think Zherdev will bring to the Flyers?

Roenick, Hatcher elected to United States Hockey Hall of Fame

Although Jeremy Roenick made myself and many other Flyers fans sick with his Chicago praise while broadcasting during the Stanley Cup Finals, today is a day to forgive and celebrate what the one-time Flyer accomplished in his career.

Roenick and fellow one-time Flyer Derian Hatcher were selected to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Oct. 21.

Though neither will go in as a Flyer, both players made a noticeable impact while with Philadelphia. Hatcher spent three years on the Flyers, serving as a captain in 2005-06 and giving the team a physical presence it had been lacking. Though Hatcher was at the end of his career, he still had the respect of his teammates, if not always the fans.

Roenick also spent three years with the Flyers, though never propelling the team to levels many though he would when he was acquired in 2001. That year was Roenick’s best as a member of the Flyers as he led the team with 67 points and 46 assists, winning the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team’s MVP. In his second season in Orange and Black, Roenick had 27 goals and 59 points. With a better supporting cast I think Roenick really could have taken the team places.

Both players have not been away from the game long enough to be eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. When their time comes Roenick will easily be a first-ballot selection while Hatcher has a fair chance.

In other news Darroll Powe agreed to a one-year contract yesterday worth $725,000.

You can read a Q&A with Powell here.

Flyers trade Gagne

Well, this one is a head-scratcher.

News that Simon Gagne would be traded had been out for weeks and many Philadelphia fans, while appreciative of Gagne’s 10 seasons with the Flyers, were prepared to move on without one of the best forwards the team has had in recent memory.

However the fans were also hoping the team would get a little bit in returnfor him.
Instead the Flyers dealt Gagne to the Lighting today in exchange for little-known defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in next years draft.

For that price the team could have just released him and saved money. Bellow is the AP report:

New Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman added a big offensive chip to his club by trading for the longtime Philadelphia Flyers forward Monday. Tampa Bay sent defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft to Philadelphia to get Gagne, who spent 10 seasons with the Flyers.

“In adding Simon to the Lightning, we acquire a very talented player that will play alongside our top forwards,” Yzerman said in a statement. “With his combination of speed and skill we are excited to have him with us and grateful he was willing to waive his no movement clause.

“This trade not only makes us a better team in the short term, it helps create long-term flexibility for us, which all along has been one of our top priorities.”

In 664 NHL games, Gagne has 259 goals and 265 assists. He ranks ninth on the Flyers’ career list in goals and 10th in points and games played.

He had 17 goals and 23 assists in 58 games last season and added nine goals and three assists in 19 playoff games as Philadelphia reached the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Gagne is eligible to become a free agent after next season.

“I’m very excited right now,” Gagne said. “I’m looking at this opportunity as a new challenge and a new start. Tampa Bay was a team I was more than willing to waive my no-move clause.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Walker has played in 304 career regular season games over seven seasons. The 30-year-old Alberta native was originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the 1998 draft.

Walker had two goals, three assists and 90 penalty minutes in 66 games last season with the Lightning. While with St. Louis, Chicago and Tampa Bay, Walker amassed four goals, 26 assists and 444 penalty minutes during his NHL career.

“We like the way Matt plays,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. “He’s a character-intense player. He plays physical. He’s a stay-at-home guy that is a good penalty killer. On our team he can buy us dirty minutes and not be a liability, but be a positive force and help and defend our own zone.”

Hamhuis gone, time for a goalie

Dan Hamhuis wanted Chris Pronger type playing time. The Flyers were unwilling to promise him that.

Now Hamhuis is on the Penguins.

The Flyers traded Hamhuis for a third round pick a week after acquiring one of the top free agent defensemen on the market. Since the Flyers and Hamhuis could not agree on terms the team was forced to send him packing to make sure they got something out of a deal that had already cost them Ryan Parent.

After the draft Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had this to say to reporters:

“The one thing I’m a little disappointed in is the Hamhuis thing,” Holmgren said. “We took our shot at him. It didn’t look like it was going to work out, so we moved his rights. I don’t think it had anything to do with our cap situation. But [he] may come around again on July 1. Who knows? He might be a free agent on July 1 like he is scheduled to be.”

With the whole Hamhuis drama now behind them the Flyers have turned their focus back to goaltending. The team has has exclusive rights on Evgeni Nabokov and is also considering Boston’s Tim Thomas according to this article. Even with the rights to Nabokov, the word is that the goalie is nowhere close to signing a deal and that he plans to test the free agent market.

Most fans would bee happy with Nabokov or Thomas coming to town as each would represent an upgrade over the team’s current situation.

Though Nabokov is on the wrong side of 35 I still believe he is the best option on the market and a guy that the team will ultimately end up with. With free agency set to begin on Thursday it is a sure bet that whatever direction the Flyers are going in will be made clear this week.

Flyers open next season against Penguins

Though the Game 6 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals may still be a lingering pain for many Flyers fans, there came out some news today that should at least put a smile on a few faces.

The NHL released its opening day schedule and it includes the Flyers starting their season on October 7 against the Penguins. As an added bonus it will be to first game ever played in Pittsburgh’s new arena, CONCOL Energy Center.

You can read about the rest of the openers here.

Though there is so much time and so many other sports standing in the way between now and next season’s opener, it good to know the Flyers will have the chance to start their season by ruining a special moment for Crosby and his boys.

Flyers face big goaltending decision

As the Flyers begin their offseason hoping to change the roster only enough to get two more wins than this season, the biggest question mark comes between the pipes.

The goaltender position was a revolving door this season. The Flyers went out and signed Ray Emery last offseason and immediately made him their No. 1 goalie. There were hops that he would find his 2006-2007 form and become the goalie Flyers fans have longed for the last decade. Instead injuries derailed his season and created instability on the backline.

In his place became the combination of Brian Boucher (33 games), Michael Leighton (27 games), Jeremy Duchesne (1 game) and Johan Backlund (1 game). Boucher and Leighton each had their moments in the regular season, but it is hard to say either is of No. 1 caliber.

Boucher produced a 2.76 GAA and Leighton had a 2.48, both more than respectable. Whether either could produce those numbers over a full season is yet to be seen.

Fans grew to love Boucher and Leighton in the playoffs as they helped lead the Flyers on an unbelievable journey to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, both struggled in the finals as the Blackhawks fired puck after puck in the net, particularly in Games 5 and 6. We don’t need to talk about the soft goals goals in Game 6.

Leighton did finish with a 2.46 GAA and three shutouts in the playoffs — tops among all goalies. The Flyers were also 16-5-2 when Leighton started in the regular season.

If the Flyers decide that Leighton is not their man (they already know Boucher will not be the starter) there is a host of free agent netminders to consider. Bellow is the the best of the bunch.

Notable free agents
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose
Marty Turko, Dallas
Jose Theodore, Washington
Vesa Toskala, Calgary
Chris Mason, St. Louis
Dan Elis, Nashville
Martin Biron, New York Islanders

Nabokov is the first name on every fans wish list but is also the most unrealistic. He earned $6 million last season and the Flyers do not have the cap room to add that type of salary to the books. The team would have to move at least one prominent player to make room for Nabokov. If the front office could make a deal work without hurting the team’s offense too much I would be all for it. Top goalies are rarely available and when they are teams should pounce on them. Again I don’t think this move happens, but Nabokov is head and shoulders above the field.

After that things get a bit tricky. Turko and Theodore and respectable options, but each will also be looking for around $5 million. I don’t know if I trust either that much.

From there the choices get real sketchy though. If the team can not get top talent it may decide to save money and stick with Leighton and hope he pans out.

Re-signing Emery is also an option, though I haven’t heard a peep that would lend me to believe that would happen. He is still recovering from hip surgery and it is not known when or if he will be able to return.

The Flyers also have a pair of developing goalies in the minors in 2008 draftees Jacob DeSerres and Joacim Eriksson, but neither is considered to be ready for the big time in the upcoming season.

The final option would be working a trade for Florida’s Tomas Vokoun, who the team  had interest in at the trade deadline. Vokoun would be sure thing in net, but again working a trade will not be easy.

One thing that is certain is that money will need to be spent this season. Who it is spent on may very well decide if the Flyers are the ones celebrating with the Cup this time next year.

“I think Michael Leighton cost the Flyers $142,000 this year,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren recently said. “I think it’s fair to say that whoever our goalies are next year are going to cost a lot more than that.”

Blackhawks win Stanley Cup in Philly

Somehow, someway the puck that left Patrick Kane’s stick from an impossible angle ended up in the back of the net.

And as a result the Flyers season is over.

Kane scored early in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win and its first Stanley Cup in 49 years on Wednesday. It was a soft goal by Michael Leighton to be sure, but how Kane found the net is still a mystery to me. This came after the Flyers’ Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game late in the third period to force overtime. The line of Hartnell, Daniel Briere and Ville Leino were once again the best unit on the ice for the Flyers, even if it was in a losing cause.

There is plenty to talk about this game and this series. There’s also plenty to discuss about the future of the team and what it needs to do to get two more playoff wins next season.

But for tonight and Thursday, there is only pain. The pain of knowing another year came and went and there will be no Stanley Cup in Philly. Not even the magical run the Flyers had to get to this point can ease that pain right now.

Over the next few days we will review the Flyers up and down regular season, the craziness of the playoffs and what the fans think should happen in the offseason. But before we can do that we must first heal.

It was a great season Flyers – just not quite great enough.

The feeling of a fan before Game 6

A bowl of cereal did not work. Neither did a glass of juice. I know when lunch rolls around that won’t help either.

That feeling in the pit of my stomach is going to be around until about 8:15 tonight. Even then it might last another three hours.

It’s do-or-die time for the Flyers as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. The Blackhawks lead the series 3-2 and will be looking to celebrate tonight at the Wachovia Center.

That’s the cause of the disturbing feeling in my stomach, not indigestion or the flue.

It’s a feeling of fear and trepidation; excitement and anticipation; confidence and worry.

It’s all there, every bit of it.

I’m sure I’m not alone today. Any fan that has invested much of the past few moths following the Flyers has that same feeling today — and is hoping to have that feeling again on Friday for Game 7.

In fact, any fan of any team in any sport who has been in the same situation knows the how unbearable the wait can be for a game. The work day seems to last forever, yet your work output hits an all-time low.

Clouds have covered the Delaware Valley and we have been assured that storms are on the way. Maybe it’s a symbol of bad things to come. Maybe not. The sun will return tomorrow, but whether Flyers fans will be able to notice it is another issue entirely.

After winning the Eastern Conference Finals Flyers Chairman Ed Snyder said ‘Anything past here is gravy’.

I wonder if Flyers fans will feel that way at 11 p.m. if it’s all over. I don’t want to think like that, yet my stomach forces me to.

At the same time my gut is telling me that tonight will be cause for celebration of an extended series. The celebration of the knowledge that Game 7 is coming, where anything can and will happen.

The Flyers can win tonight. The Flyers should win tonight. They are 9-1 at home and despite his shortcomings this series, Michael Leighton has been a rock at the Wachovia Center.

The first goal will be huge. As will the second and third. And the stomach will feel the impact of every one of them.

It’s the curse that myself and all other full-time sports fans have to live with. And it’s a curse I am longing to suffer through for one more game.

Leighton or Boucher in Game 6

Michael Leighton or Brian Boucher?

That is the question swirling around Philadelphia today as the Flyers prepare for a must-win Game 6 on Wednesday.

Both goalies struggled in Sunday’s 7-4 loss against Chicago, giving up three goals each. The seventh was scored on an empty netter.

Rich Hofmann details Laviolette’s decision here.

Laviolette knows who he will be starting but is keeping the rest of us in the dark. If the players know, they’re not talking either.

The truth of the matter is that regardless of which goalie is between the pipes, for the Flyers to survive the defense must be much better than it was in Game 5. The Flyers showed they could score and nearly had about four more goals on the board. The problem was each time they tried to claw back there was another breakdown and another Blackhawks goal.

The good news for the Flyers is that they return home for Game 6, where they are 9-1 this postseason. You know the Wachovia Center will rocking, even more so then in Game 4 when it sounded like the roof was going to blow off.

Back to the goalie situation, I think they team has to stick with Leighton. As tempting as it would be to go with Boucher, especially at home where he feeds of the crowd, this is Leighton’s series to win or loose. He went the first five games, he needs to be the guy for the final two — yes there will be two.

If you were Laviolette what would you do?

Flyers Tie The Series at 2

Philadelphia evened the series and gave new light to their chances at the Stanley Cup Friday when they defeated Chicago 5-3. Despite a scare late in the third period, five goals from five different Flyers were enough to put them past the Blackhawks in Game 4.

Mike Richards started the game off right when he recorded his seventh goal of the playoffs, an unassisted power play goal less than five minutes into the game. Philadelphia surely knew that a score from their star would mean good things for the rest of the game. The Flyers struck again putting Philadelphia up 2-0 when defense-man Matt Carle notched his first goal of the postseason just over ten minutes later. Read more

Just how they Giroux it up!

Oh how one goal can change everything. That’s all any Flyers fan could think about entering overtime of Game 3.

If the Flyers get that goal, they are right back in the series.

If the Blackhawks find the back of the net, the series would be all but over. The Blackhawks aren’t the Bruins. A 3-0 would not have been overcome.

And then Claude Giroux scored on a deflection of Matt Carle’s pass 5:59 into the extra session and erased any doubts about a 3-0 hole and replaced it with the realization that the Flyers are right back in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 4 awaits on Thursday right back in Philadelphia. If the Flyers hold serve, we are looking at a tied series and pandemonium in the city.

Giroux wasn’t the lone hero on the night. Scott Harntell, who has been beaten up by fans — including us — and media all season, had an outstanding game scoring a goal and assisting on another on a smooth no-look backhand goal. He has been a real force during the postseason.

Daniel Briere continued to be “Mr. Playoff” with a goal and Ville Leino continued to show why he should have been on the ice all season with another goal.

As was the case of the first two games, this one had fans on the edge of their seats the whole team. It was the third one-goal outcome in as many games. Any more of this and the local hospitals better load up on extra beds because the heart can only take so much.

Three more wins Flyers fans. Three more wins.

Win or Go Home (Almost)

The Flyers’s season is on the line tonight when they return home to take on Chicago. After falling behind 2-0, Philadelphia needs to get a win in the series under their belt to avoid falling 3-0 for the second time in the playoffs. After pulling off the ultimate challenge a winning four straight to eliminate Boston, the Flyers chances after a loss tonight would be almost unthinkable.

The city is ready to rally around the home team, as fans all over the Philadelphia are decked out in orange and while, but it is up to the team to capture the win, and redirect the series.

The two players who will have the biggest impact on the game will be goalkeepers Michael Leighton and Antti Niemi. Through the first two games, Niemi has been tough for the Flyers to get past, recording 59 saves, while allowing six goals. Niemi will be put to the test again tonight as Philadelphia will look to put pressure on the net. Leighton on the other hand, was pulled in game 1, after allowing five goals, and then allowed only two goals in game 2, will hope to receive offense support from his team, while protecting the net.

The Stanley Cup finals between the Flyers has certainly not lacked excitement. From the confrontation between Chris Pronger and the Blackhawks Brian Eager, to the Philadelphia goalie situation, tonight’s game will be one step closer to an NHL Champion.

Who needs Sidney or Alexander? Flyers-Blackhawks draw big

Fans in Philadelphia and Chicago aren’t the only ones interested in how the Stanley Cup Finals turn out this season.

Apparently the rest of America is always joining in on the fun. The following is an Associated Press article on the high TV ratings the series has drawn.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ win Monday night earned the best overnight rating for a Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on record.

The Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers drew a 4.1 rating and 7 share on NBC, the highest overnight rating since at least 1975, which is as far back as the records go.

The rating was up 21 percent from last year’s 3.4 for Red Wings-Penguins.

The game earned a 25.1 rating and 39 share in Chicago.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program, while the share is the percentage of all TVs in use at the time. Overnight ratings measure the nation’s largest markets.

This should be a wake-up call to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that you don’t need Sidney Crosby to get fans attention.