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Once the Defense is Taken Care Of, It's Time to Look for a Pure Goal-Scorer


Guest Irishjim
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Michael DeNicola

Flyers fans will continue to use the 2011-12 season's goal production as an example for why they're not worrying about the offense next season. Scott Hartnell closed in on almost 40-goals, Wayne Simmonds almost potted 30-pucks himself, and even Max Talbot was just shy of 20.

One thing all three of those forwards had in common was that the 2011-12 season was a career year for each of them in the goals-scored department.

Leading into the schedule, we were all worried about where the goals were going to come from. The mentioned trio above certainly came to the call, and who could forget about our rookies who lifted the twine a combined 64-times during the regular schedule.

The depth was there. In fact, Philadelphia scored the 2nd most PPG's in the League and held on to the most goals-scored (in both Conferences) for the majority of the season.

So I can see why none of you are too worried about next year's lit lamps.

Defense.

It needs to be addressed this off-season. You know it, Paul Holmgren knows it. We'll either hammer away at our blue line woes by trade(s) or free agency signings, or both. It's our off-season's #1 priority.

But once Homer solidifies the buttress pairings, I firmly believe it'd behoove the organization to begin looking for a pure goal-scoring forward out there. One who possesses all the traits (and not just most of them) of a pure goal-scorer.

Hartnell%2005152012.jpg

Hartnell, Simmonds and Talbot will more than likely not repeat the goal totals from the 2011-12 season. They may not even come close to it, actually. Their career years were paid dividends. A welcomed surprise. But overall, it's just out of their character.

You argue our rookies -- with their successful freshman seasons under their belts -- will return in their sophomore years more experienced, prepared to take on what opponents throw at them, and deliver just as they did (if not, better) last October through May.

Hey, I hope so as well! And I won't argue that our rooks don't look to be potential super stars. Because that's exactly what they are.

However, if sophomore seasons have proven anything over the 100+ years of the NHL's existence.....it's that you don't know what to expect from your players after their familiarizing period. There is no assurance there whatsoever. One 82-game schedule is not enough sample size to establish a firm rate of consistency. I pray to the hockey gods that Matt Read returns next year and scores 30, or Couturier grows more physically monstrous during the summer months and returns an even better two-way, defensive center than he is today. Or even Brayden Schenn; the kid bangs like a one-ton pendulum, and has shown us he goes to the net like a veteran.

The promise is there. The potential's been proven. Although it's the regularity that's still up in the air.

I'm not here to be a downer, or to inflict second-guessing with our players and/or management's recent roster decisions. I absolutely have fallen in love with this team, and it's the strongest it's ever been than I can remember.

But this is a business. It's got to evolve to get better. And right now, this Flyers team's evolution is a few defensive key pieces and a pure goal-scorer away from becoming what we've been praying for since the Spring of 1975.

Jaromir Jagr is still a walking, talking question-mark at this stage of the off-season. No one knows if he's returning to the Flyers, or the NHL at all. I believe Jagr's not even sure himself.

Regardless of this, it's pretty obvious that his production tailed off by the Playoffs. He was a ghost on the ice in virtually both Series. When you see this from a 40yr old forward, you tend to blame it on his age. And when this player is only bound to a 1yr contract, more questions and concerns loom around his re-signing than anything else.

Considering the pre-season expectations, Jagr had an absolutely fantastic year with the Flyers. He amazed us on the front line with Giroux, and his leadership in the locker room could never have a price tag. I appreciated the man's work ethic, which was far and beyond any other skater I've seen this year.

Jagr, simply, deserves success.

Jagr%2005152012.jpg

But I'm not too sure about an extension here in Philadelphia. Jaromir could become an odd man out. Though there are contracts coming off the books (Laperriere, Betts), cap space is opening up and the salary's ceiling is being raised to (rumored) $69MM, it's the team's priorities that could push Jagr's chances at dressing in orange & black again off the table. And with both Matt Carle and Jake Voracek up for re-signing and pay increases, Jagr's clamp in Philly is lessened even more.

Where am I going with all of this?

Well, like I said, the depth on our forward combinations is unquestionably present. But assuming we'll see the same (or more) goal production from our current players like we did in 2011-12 is a tad naive.

Giroux%2005152012.jpg

Claude Giroux is a playmaker. One of the best in the world. Any mate skating with Giroux will profittenfold,and Scott Hartnell is certainly a product of that fact. Some may argue that Hartnell is the pure goal-scorer that Claude needs, but Hartsy's playing history would beg to differ.

Scott possesses many traits, but is simply not the pure goal-scorer our front line's looking for. This needed linemate stockpiles structures such as hockey sense, passing skills, the ability to get open, drives to the net, has quick and accurate releases, hockey ingenuity, flawless puck handling and possession skills, and a knack to get into an opposing netminder's head.

I know, it sounds a lot like a 2011-12 Scott Hartnell. Bear with me.

First off, if for whatever reason you believe I'm about to conduct an argument for picking up soon-to-be UFA Alexander Semin, then please.....poison that thought dead. That's the last thing this team needs, another Nikolai Zherdev; A player who harnesses as much work ethic as a pestering pimple on our ass.

Semin will get his money, but it won't be from Ed Snider's pocket. Thank the Lord.

Now, you really wanna know who I have my hopes up for?

Parise%2005152012.jpgSu

Soon-to-be-UFA, LW Zach Parise.

There, I said it. it's wishful thinking. Zach's already closing off on his 1yr/$6M contract with the New Jersey Devils, and with Philadelphia constantly flirting with the cap ceiling, it'd be quite a challenge to fit his inevitable high-grade salary in our books. Especially once Holmgren takes care of our defensive anguish.

But for the sake of argument, I wanted to give you an example of what a pure goal-scorer is. Parise's just the whole ball of wax wrapped into one mighty 5'11", 190lbs frame.

Excusing his rookie year, and 2010-11 which he spent most of on the IR, Zach hasn't gone a single season without scoring less than 31-goals. In 2008-09, Parise had a career high 45-lit lamps.

Again, excusing the aforementioned two seasons, Parise averages 35.4 (177 G / 5yrs) goals per regular schedule. Imagine what a player like him would do with Claude Giroux centering his line? Imagine the line combo's total in points?

Yea, mine moved a little too.

To give you a reference, here is the list of upcoming

UFA Forwards, and here's the list of upcoming RFA Forwards. Free Agency Frenzy Day, this year, will live up to its name; it'll be a frenzy. There's really no depth talent-wise in this FA pool, so Clubs all over the League will be going after the cream of the crop like wild animals.

Philadelphia snagging and signing Parise is a stretch, but it's a key player like him that our front line is missing. Could the Flyers try to obtain a talent like Parise via trade? Sure. And the Flyers have enough up front to sacrifice a little depth. You've got to give a little to gain what you want.

The youth is here in Philly. The leadership is spread thick and wide throughout our dressing room. Talent drips from our players' nameplates like nectar off a honeycomb. If we build and strengthen around Bryzgalov then capture the final piece of the puzzle upfront, then we'll be tasting silver and nickel alloy in our near future.

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Is it a requirement of bloggers to pretend the salary cap doesn't exist? Sorry Jim, this article is the equivalent of writing a letter to Santa.

Balanced team scoring is IMHO preferable to a high-priced UFA sniper. The key is to draft one.

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Why does everyone keep thinking that NJ is going to let their young Captain go?????

Ain't going to happen...

...they are cheap but they ain't stupid.

Parise will resign in Jersey.

yeah, i thought this too, people seemed dead set that he's leaving, the reports i heard was he was going to Minnesota ?? wtf is he from MN ? unless he's said , NJ sucks i don't want to play here anymore, i can't see why they wouldn't give up big $ to keep him, unless they're in cap hell too, which could be the case. if i were about it i'd research it a little but cap geek makes my eyes hurt.

all that to say i agree with you , why would NJ not try to resign, their captain and best player.

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I can't see Lou letting Parise walk. But if he does, this is one forward I would target. He would fit right in on the first line with Giroux.

Parise would fit on ANY first line not just Philly's......I would welcome him with open arms but it ain't gonna happen.......

Caveat...I really,really,really,REALLY want to eat crow over this post... :D

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Parise would fit on ANY first line not just Philly's......I would welcome him with open arms but it ain't gonna happen.......

I know - highly, HIGHLY unlikely. But I also couldn't dream of Forsberg in the Flyers uniform in a million years. Didn;t quite worked out the way everybody hoped, but still...

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I agree on your points about Jagr except him being a "leader" in the locker room. You guys obviously saw more of his efforts this season than I did, but I know his track record. If he was a benefit in the room it's because he hoped to make it all the way and it benefits him first and foremost. I wouldn't expect it two years running, and you overpaid for him this year. I'd free up the cap space. (And I actually like the guy, believe it or not, having met him several times).

Weber is going to be a run for the roses. Whomever comes up with the best offer wins. I'd be shocked if you, or my Pens for that matter, really stand a chance here.

Same thing about Parise as with Weber. We've seen time and time again teams throw unbelievable contracts at a player to get them, and traditionally the Pens and Flyers are not those teams. Barring the mind blowing Bryzgalov contract, your team doesn't really throw Kovalchuk money out there any more than mine does. I think we'll all be sitting on the sidelines for these two.

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I agree on your points about Jagr except him being a "leader" in the locker room. You guys obviously saw more of his efforts this season than I did, but I know his track record. If he was a benefit in the room it's because he hoped to make it all the way and it benefits him first and foremost.

disagree here.

to be fair none of us were in the room so , all we know is what we read , having said that i haven't read one quote from any player that didn't say how much they learned about the game and how to prepare for the game from him, he came to the rink everyday with a smile on his face happy to play hockey and so on, I don't see how that's a bad thing, perhaps 3 years of KHL and having a teammate die in his arms changed his priorities.

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disagree here.

to be fair none of us were in the room so , all we know is what we read , having said that i haven't read one quote from any player that didn't say how much they learned about the game and how to prepare for the game from him, he came to the rink everyday with a smile on his face happy to play hockey and so on, I don't see how that's a bad thing, perhaps 3 years of KHL and having a teammate die in his arms changed his priorities.

Yep. Jagr was a prima donna. But he came back to the NHL with a whole new outlook this year. My guess is he saw the end was near, and is trying to prolong it. Whatever, he was a good influence on the young guys. And I have to admit I never saw that coming.

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perhaps 3 years of KHL and having a teammate die in his arms changed his priorities.

he came back to the NHL with a whole new outlook this year

Well that's good to hear. We don't hear much about him here to be honest. Not exactly a fan favorite anymore. Primarily because of how he left. It didn't help that he signed with you guys this time around either. The simple fact is you guys paid him almost three times what we were willing to give him. I don't think you got your money's worth, but I still like the guy.

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@idahophilly

Weber isn't available til next year. Timonen comes off the books. That's 6.5 million freed up right there.

And if you add Hartnell's contract expriring with Kimo, that is $10.5 million. So it can happen as long as someone like Detroit with appeal and space doesn't sign him to one hell of an offer sheet (as Weber is an RFA).

Edited by Dynamo 47
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There is not one forward who is appealling to me on the UFA list that is realistic. Parise, of course but the price and the fact he will likely sign with the Debs make it unlikely.

I did see two names that appealled to me in the RFA category.

First is Evander Kane who is and RFA. He is only 20 and coming off a 30 goal season. You put him on Giroux's left wing and the kid could score 45 - 50. He has good size, is gritty and would be a nice compliment to those we already have. It would probably take about $5.5 million in an offer sheet to sign him but if we dropped Jagr's contract we are almost there. I doubt that Winnipeg lets him go.

The second is a guy I think we can get. He is young, 24, big (6'1 228), plays big and most importantly, is a Right handed shot. I am talking Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues.

He only scored 15 goals last season (which I think is a byproduct of Hitch's defensive style of play) but scored 28 goals in the 09-10 season for the Avs.

He is a big kid who plays big and would be a nice complement to a 2nd line but could play 3rd and wouldn't look too out of place with Giroux on the top. He has a cap hit of currently 2.875 and he might be had for 3.5.

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@dyanamo47

i like that you're looking for youth.

there are some players on that St Louis team that are intriguing,do they stay and try to build something there, StL is a pretty good sports city, or do they look to move to a larger market. a lot of the guys i like they're not going to put in play peitrangelo and oshie but they are big team and skate well 1-22.

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@Dynamo 47

Stewart made his way into Hitches doghouse this year (somebody has to). I think you're right he could be had. This kid looked like he had a great career in front of him until he went to St. Louis. Not sure if theres an attitude problem, or if its just Hitch hates youth.

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@Dynamo 47

Stewart made his way into Hitches doghouse this year (somebody has to). I think you're right he could be had. This kid looked like he had a great career in front of him until he went to St. Louis. Not sure if theres an attitude problem, or if its just Hitch hates youth.

I was wondering the same thing. In Colorado he looked like a promising and blossoming power forward. And I agree we know how Hitch dislikes and has little faith in young players.

The one thing I did hear rumors about was his conditioning? That makes me think Patrick Maroon all over as they are the same size and style. The difference is Stewart has proven he belongs in the NHL.

It would be nice to add some more size and potential 30 goals on the wing. The fact he is young and can develop chemistry for a long time with his teammates doesn't hurt either (and we need a right handed shot badly up front).

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Stewart made his way into Hitches doghouse this year (somebody has to). I think you're right he could be had. This kid looked like he had a great career in front of him until he went to St. Louis. Not sure if theres an attitude problem, or if its just Hitch

Although it does make you wonder why COL parted with him.

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Well that's good to hear. We don't hear much about him here to be honest. Not exactly a fan favorite anymore. Primarily because of how he left. It didn't help that he signed with you guys this time around either. The simple fact is you guys paid him almost three times what we were willing to give him. I don't think you got your money's worth, but I still like the guy.

While I concur that $3.3M was a bit high for the straight production the Flyers got from Jagr, I do think that the influence on Hartnell (career year) and Giroux cannot be overstated, and also the effect on a young Jake Voracek playing with his childhood idol.

That said, Jagr needs to decide that it's time for him to Recchi off into the sunset - $1M plus bonuses.

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