With Flyers training camp only about a month away, there are plenty of questions surrounding the defending Eastern Conference Champions.
Here are a few of the “now” questions, I’ve got plenty of stuff on the back-burner in preparation for the opening of camp.
With the ruling being handed down on the Kovalchuk contract, the NHL is now examining other “similar” deals, including Chris Prongers. What’s the possibility that the NHL finds a problem with the Pronger deal?
Slim to none, what Commissioner Gary Bettman has done so far is a scare tactic. Gary’s old buddy in New Jersey, Lou Lamoriello is said by many to have done Bettman and the NHL a favor, by setting a standard, knowing the Kovalchuk contract wouldn’t go through. Bottom line, owners routinely take advantage of cap rules to sign guys to ridiculously long deals. Bettman just needed to let them know where the line is drawn, without ruffling any feathers, or losing any owner approval. Also, as strange as Prongers contract may look there is still what can be described as a legit cap hit every year of his deal.
Q: Chris Pronger had surgery late in the off season and could miss the beginning of the regular season. What’s up with that?
Well Pronger had the usual bumps and bruises any elite NHL defenseman will have at the end of a long season. He decided to first try therapy, the results weren’t what he and the team had hoped. The next logical option was surgery, his rehab time isn’t abnormal, he just had the surgery later than normal. Obviously, the Flyers and Pronger were trying to avoid surgery, but sometimes, in this instance it was unavoidable.
Q: Could the Flyers go after Niemi?
This is a hot underground rumor, and for sure the Flyers have discussed this internally. After Niemi’s arbitration was awarded the Blackhawks decided to go another direction, which should tell you something. I’m not sure the Flyers don’t believe they already have the better option in Michael Leighton. Now, if the Flyers could do it all over again they would have waited a little while to sign Leighton, or went with a different option, as many FA goaltenders signed for much below the previously thought of market value. Though, the Flyers did sign Leighton, and he’s their guy, I can’t see them going after Niemi. Besides, if they were to get involved in the Niemi sweepstakes they’d have to unload a contract or two.
Q: Are the Flyers done making moves?
Most likely, yes their done. The team you see now will most likely be the one that heads into training camp in about a month. You could see some small transactions, for instance, Brian Boucher could be dealt. The Flyers seem to be locked in with Johan Backlund as the back up with the big club. He was fairly successful at the AHL level last season and with two promising goaltending prospects in the system it’s going to be important for them to see what they have with Backlund. Other than that, I believe the Flyers are done making moves.
Q: As of right now what could the line combos look like?
Picking line combos this early is a shot in the dark. You never know what can happen during camp. An experimental line could get hot and just “click,” much like the line of Hartnell- Briere- Leino did during the playoffs. This is what camp is for, to find out what you have and what you can do with it.
Here’s my lines:
Scratches: Shelley. Walker, Bartulis
Now I can easily see these changing a bit. Carcillo could easily move up to the first line dropping Zherdev down with Giroux and JVR. Going into the season the Flyers could be without Pronger, Betts and Leino, at least for the first few games. Then the lines would look dramatically different. I believe Powe will see a lot of games, as well as Walker. Bartulis is on the outside looking in, but they may need him early on. You never know he may prove his worth. With practically no talent in the minors defensively, the Flyers are looking for him to show them something. Again, this is what camp is for. A guy like Kevin Marshall who the Flyers were very high on, fell out of favor last season. Camp will be his, and guys like Bartulis’, chance to shine.
Keep it right here at ProSportsBlogging.com for more Flyers coverage heading into training camp.
About the Author
Written by Mike Santa Barbara
Sports writer covering mostly Philadelphia sports for over 10 years. Work has been featured on RealGM.com, GCobb.com and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (CSNPhilly.com.)