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Where does Flyers' Holmgren go from here?


Guest Digityman
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Not too many of us refine a “wish list” after the Christmas Holidays, but that’s where Paul Holmgren’s head is at.

The NHL’s Christmas roster freeze allowed GMs to focus more on friends and family and less about their foes, but Holmgren is always in “upgrade” mode, and I’m sure he’s been constantly combing over the other 29 rosters in the league.

He’s made a list of what defensemen would be competent replacements for captain Chris Pronger, and he’s checked it twice. What every Flyers fan (and every member of the media) would love to know is, who is at the top of Holmgren’s list when trading resumes on Wednesday?

Ideally, Nashville’s Shea Weber would be the overwhelming choice. In fact, any GM in the league would tell you Weber could be the most coveted player to change teams before the 2012-13 season commences. He has size, a 102-mph blistering slap shot, plays a physical, imposing brand of defense and is a franchise centerpiece.

The prevailing thought across the league is now that the Predators have signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to a staggering seven-year, $49 million extension, there’s little financial room left to pay Weber and teammate defenseman Ryan Suter. Under David Poile’s watch, the organization has been pinching pennies from the day they had to pony up the NHL’s expansion fee.

I feel confident Holmgren will make a major push for Weber... just not now. For one, ever since he was handed the GM keys in Nov. 2006, Holmgren has never made an eye-popping move to acquire a perennial All-Star during the season.

Take the list of players he has acquired prior to the deadline: Jaroslav Modry, Vaclav Prospal, Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino and Kris Versteeg.

All nice role players brought in to compliment the current corps. In the case of Carcillo, it was actually a cap-savings move to free up the necessary space because the team couldn’t fit Claude Giroux under the salary cap (I know it seems hard to believe, but that was the dilemma back in 2008).

Big names have come and gone at the deadline but Holmgren simply doesn’t believe in shaking up the roster six weeks from the playoffs. Let’s add a piece, but not at the expense of subtracting several others.

There are many superstars who have swapped teams recently at or near the trade deadline without the results of a championship: Peter Forsberg to Nashville, Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh, Brian Campbell to San Jose, Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey, and in each instance those teams all came up short. The prevailing thought is it’s just too risky and the asking price is usually way too high to pull trigger on one exceptional talent when it’s the collective chemistry of a team that wins Stanley Cups.

Look at the past six Cup champs since the lockout and they all won with nice, complimentary additions. In 2006 Carolina added 38-year-old Mark Recchi and in 2009 Pittsburgh acquired 38-year-old Bill Guerin, All-Star players past the primes of their careers who added leadership and contributions at just the right time. Those organizations didn’t feel the need to mortgage their future to add the “missing” piece.

So where does Paul Holmgren look for defensive help? First off, the search starts with veteran players in the final year of their contracts playing for teams who don’t appear to be making the postseason.

In Carolina, there’s Tim Gleason and Jaroslav Spacek.

In LA, Willie Mitchell falls under that category, but there are two defensemen who would fit what the Flyers need at this point: a strong power play presence and a veteran in the locker room with postseason experience.

Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina and Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin fit both qualifications. Both men are in the final year of their contracts with a cap hit of $3.8 million, a number that could be easily absorbed by the Flyers now that they have space. Once again, the Flyers have draft picks at their disposal and with the emergence of players like Matt Read, Sean Couturier and the potential of Brayden Schenn, this organization doesn't necessarily have to rely on prospects like other organizations.

All of which leads me up to the Flyers pursuit of Weber. I would be surprised if the Predators trade Weber before the deadline. It would send a terrible message to the Nashville fan base. Weber's rights could be acquired in the off-season, but it will require a hefty package of picks and players since he's a restricted free agent. If Weber somehow makes to it July 1 still in Nashville, then I think the Flyers organization will look hard at submitting an offer sheet.

In fact, I would expect it.

A long term deal with a cap hit around $7 million per season would be outside of Poile's budget. The compensation would be two first-round picks, a second-rounder and a third-round pick, but when you think how the Flyers essentially dealt four first-round picks (two picks plus Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa) to acquire Chris Pronger, the Flyers can absorb whatever it takes to acquire a defenseman that you may never draft over the next 25 years.

CNSPhilly
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Digity: Good post. Your logic is good. But who know's, maybe he will do things for an overhaul of the D, not just a Pronger replacement. Our forward depth is amazing. But is the entire D up to speed. Bryz is not playing well. But some of last night's goals seemed to be defensive lapses on the parts of forwards and D-men.

My other concern...Pronger's status leaves a lot in the air. Is he really finished, or do we face a Forsberg situation with on-off stints. That scenario really scares me.

Best,

Howie

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Not to nit-pick, but do they do there homework over at CSN? I would take the article a little more serious if:

A) They noted that Dan Carcillo was a trade deadline move (let's not get started on the Upshall and a 2nd circus)

B) It was at the 2009 trade deadline not 2008.

Again, it's a slow day here, but CSN needs to get on the ball with their facts

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I just hope Holmgren doesn't have one of his reaction fits and deal Couturier and Schenn for the oldest most broken down blueliner he can find. We're in no rush here, the team is doing fine (other than the saviour in net and JVR). If he can't get a quality (meaning someone who can help us compete with the Bruins) defenceman, i don't see the need to trade anything of value for a finger in the dyke.

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We have the good goalie with Bobrovsky. It's just too bad he has to sit behind Bustgalov....

At best, Bob has potential and is unproven. At worst, he implodes and is exposed worse than Bryz.

Most likely, he does what he's already done - which is pretty much the same as Bryz. numbers-wise (prior to Bryz's recent collapse)

Also, if Bryz has "bad playoffs" - here's Bob:

3 starts 0-2-0, 6.00 GAA, .877 SV% pulled once (stats from starts only)

Overall? 0-2-0, 3.77, .877 - six total playoff appearances. At best, unproven.

I am not on a Bryzgalov bandwagon - and I was outraged that Bob was thrown under the bus after Game 2 last year (which as I recally, a lot of people favored) - but am certainly not convinced that "Bob" is the "good goalie ready to step in and lead them."

And clearly neither were the Flyers.

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@radoran

I hear you on the unproven aspect of Bobrovsky and it is a coin toss to see what we get. But at this point why not give Bobrovsky as shot until Bryzgalov can find his way out of the woods, or whatever he calls it?

I am not too sure who is better at this point, but for the price on his contract he has to find a way to step up to the plate. Either that or Lavy needs to adjust his defensive scheme so they can adjust to Bryzgalov's game.

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@radoran

I hear you on the unproven aspect of Bobrovsky and it is a coin toss to see what we get. But at this point why not give Bobrovsky as shot until Bryzgalov can find his way out of the woods, or whatever he calls it?

I am not too sure who is better at this point, but for the price on his contract he has to find a way to step up to the plate. Either that or Lavy needs to adjust his defensive scheme so they can adjust to Bryzgalov's game.

I'm ridiculously frustrated that they took a goalie from a strong defensive system and gave him to a coach known for his up-tempo offensive schemes.

And that nobody has seemed to make any adjustments to anything. Much less given it any thought before signing away the next decade.

Lavy is on the hot seat here. The Flyers will make a coaching change before they admit they made a $42M mistake.

I think the coach has misplayed the goalie position at almost every possible opportunity.

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@flyercanuck

I am with you in regards to the frustration. I just wonder if Bryzgalov would flurish under a system like Ken Hitchcock's and sink in a Lavy system.

I am not making excuses for his back breaking goals either.

The whole thing is just plain f'd if you ask me.

This guy (Bryzgalov) will cost Lavy his job and PL is probably one of the better coaches this team has had in the better part of a decade. He will cost the Flyers so much roster upgrading with his dumb contract and more than likely cost us the best goalie prospect we have had in 25+ years.

This is why you cannot have the owner over stepping his boundries and handling the day to day operations of a hockey club.

Snider will not be alive to see this contract exprire.

Oh well, once again the Flyers' brass has proven that they are extremely short sighted.

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If the goalie needs a strong defensive system to play well, he's not a good goalie. Period.

The point being that they took a goalie who obviously benefitted from a strong defensive system and expected the same results in a run and gun offense. And the coach, the players and the goalie seem to have made few adjustments to losing their top defenseman and captain.

Every goalie depends on his team as the team depends on the goalie.

If you leave Steve Stamkos wide open, he's going to beat Henrik Lundqvist or even Tim Thomas more often than not.

And it's not just a problem this year. Stamkos has 4 goals in 14 games against the Rags and 5 in 13 against da Broons. He has 10 in 15 career games against the Flyers. And that's including three games this season.

No matter who's in goal, this team needs to play better from top to bottom. It's not something that a goalie change alone will fix.

I wouldn't mind seeing Bob play. I don't think it's going to happen this season, but if this is how things start next season, they will take a good hard look at Bob before the trade deadline.

Not saying it's what they "should" do, but what they "will" do.

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I agree, it is a team sport. That was my argument last playoffs, since the entire team mailed it in seemingly months leading into the playoffs. That was a mess, very unlike what is going on now.

Still, a good goalie is a good goalie - something Bryz is not.

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I agree, it is a team sport. That was my argument last playoffs, since the entire team mailed it in seemingly months leading into the playoffs. That was a mess, very unlike what is going on now.

Still, a good goalie is a good goalie - something Bryz is not.

And even if they replace Bryz with Bob, the same people who made the decision to give a "not good goalie" a nine-year, $51M, NMC deal will still be here.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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I think the losses matter more to this forum than anything else, including the salary cap hit.

EXACTLY!!!!! Why pay him big bucks when he losses to the other team's backup. He's playing like a 3rd stringer if there is one while being paid as a 1st.

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Right - losses are very important. As are the reasons for the losses.

Management has assembled a team that covers badly in front of a goalie who is struggling and has unwisely committed a huge amount of the future to two long term contracts to the struggling goalie and injured 36yo defenseman.

Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic doesn't convince me that this will be in a new, much less right, direction.

If they buy Bryz out after next season - or, heck, this season - what faith do you have that this group will finally make the RIGHT decisions regarding personnel?

I see a panicky, knee-jerk, slap-dash, data-free, reputation-based approach to filling needs on the roster - dating back to Dale Hawerchuk and beyond. I don't really see any sort of plan to WIN a Stanley Cup, just one that puts them in a position to "compete for a Stanley Cup" in front of a goalie like, for example, Michael Leighton. I see a team that has lavished praise upon and granted ridiculous contracts to their drafts picks... before throwing them under the bus and shipping them out of town.

Play Bob? Fine play Bob.

Unless more changes than the guy between the pipes, not much will change.

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When I first read this I thought there would be more suggestions on who should be targeted to acquire as Shea Weber also is recovering from a concussion. I do not want to trade any of the top 11 forwards (Hartnell, Giroux, Jagr, Voracek, Briere, Read, JVR, Schenn, Simmonds, Talbot, and Couterier) and I would not trade Timonen, Coburn, Meszaros, and Bourdon this year and would only trade Carle for a returning RH two way defencemen with size. The Header said where does PH go from hers so here are my suggestions.

Trade J Shelly to someone for a 7th round draft pick or future considerations. Columbus-NYI-Edmonton might be a destination.

Trade M Walker and a 3rd round draft pick to Calgary for C Sarich.

Get a big bodied RW like A Stewart-T Hunter for the fourth line who could fill in when needed.

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To All:

I am as frustrated as anyone who follows this team. However, I am wondering about the effect the youth playing in front of Bryzbye and his lack of familiarity with the shooters has/is having on the end ressults. I never figured we'd be as high in the standings considering all of the changes. I live in Ecuador and am able to follow via the net so I do not have the opportunity to see any games. Much like a one-eyed man. I yield to your closer observations. PuckMeister

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@PuckMeister

Well, Bobrovsky plays in front of the same youth, is only in his 2nd season, and doesn't look like he's never played against NHLers before. He may not know the shooters, but is that really an excuse to be a bottom 5 goalie in the entire league?

Right about now I wish I was in Ecuador as we're finally getting winter. It's a country I've wanted to travel to, but can't convince my wife. Someday...

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@PuckMeister

Welcome to the board. You can join in our live game chat when the Flyers are playing. Someone always have a game feed for you to watch. As for Bryz, we all have just exhausted every excuse possible for his poor play. It just comes down to playing the goalie position, not all the goals are his fault but we feel that he can save the majority of the goals that he so far let in, deflected or not.

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Adjust to his game? As in score 6 goals each and every game to have a chance to win?

no, adjust to his game, as in stop focusing on pressuring the puck carrier to force counter rushes and start playing a collapse defense that keys on limiting cross ice and slot opportunities. the flyers under laviolette to this point play a very agressive defensive system that tries to be in the opponent's face ASAP wherever they are on the ice. no where is safe in the defensive zone, take away time and space where ever the puck carrier might be. problem is, that means softer coverage away from the puck and allows a lot of weak side opportunities if the puck carrier can get a pass through. those are plays bryzgalov has no chance on, he can't move fast enough and his angles aren't strong enough to compensate. if the flyers back off on the puck pressure in the less-threatening areas of the defensive zone -along the boards, behind the net, at the point- they can shut down the movement plays that cause bryzgalov problems. if you watch a dave tippett game, this is what his defense does. he allows possession in the places that aren't an immediate threat, but tries to make sure the puck can't be moved to the actually scarey areas. anaheim took a similar approach with their cup team, who also had a mobility-challenged goalie behind them (and, bryzgalov, too, for whatever that's worth).

laviolette's current system is nice, because it doesn't let things get set up and forces a lot of turnovers going the other way. when it fails to do that, though, you need a goalie able to deal with the soft coverage, and bryzgalov isn't that.

imo, bob is. but that's a different thread.

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