Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's Look At Some #FutureFlyers

As we all know, the World Juniors are underway and the Flyers are well-represented on the teams from Canada, Russia, and Sweden. Presently, Sweden and Canada are atop Group A and Russia is atop Group B - and the Flyers' prospects have contributed across the board.

Defensemen Travis Sanheim (Canada) and Ivan Provorov (Russia) have lived up to expectations, showing offensive ability from the blue line. Forward Travis Konecny (Canada) and Goalie Felix Sandstrom (Sweden) have been frustratingly limited. Forwards Oscar Lindblom (Sweden) and Radel Fazleev (Russia) have been productive, though that's far from a surprise for Lindblom's followers.

Couple the guys at the WJC with the prospects in the AHL and the future, as always, is bright for the orange and black.

My #FlyersBoner is raging, and I want to look forward. It might be next year, or maybe the following year or even the year after that, but we will have a new batch of talented players to add to our current core. Let's look ahead at the forwards:

The Giroux Line: Konecny - Giroux - Schenn

I like Giroux and Schenn together, if for no other reason than it elevated Brayden's game. They are solid in the defensive zone and, at times, are explosive in the offensive zone. Konecny will help in both situations, as well as in the neutral zone.

I already have visions of Konecny dancing through the neutral zone, swinging behind the net, and having Giroux and Schenn set up at the faceoff circles wound up for one-timers.

The Coots Line: Read - Couturier - Voracek

I don't have much to add here, other than I like Read with this line more than Simmonds. Obviously, the line has succeeded with Simmer on the wing, but we have to look at the opportunity cost. Sending Read down to a line that stinks is a complete and utter waste of his talent. Simmonds, on the other hand, will fit in nicely with...

The Checking Line: Simmonds - Bellemare - Raffl

Let's throw Pierre Bellemare a bone and give him two forwards that can drive possession in the offensive zone, while also complementing his physical game. This is a big, bruising line that also has quite a bit of offensive ability.

Boom, that's three lines that can all play in both ends, and it leaves us with the following group of guys to fill in for injuries/rest, or to make a fourth line:

Chris Vandevelde - High energy, great penalty killer. There will always be a place for him.
Ryan White - Maybe I was a little overzealous by suggesting he should play on Giroux's line all the time, but I love Ryan White's game.
Scott Laughton - Get ready for five years of "Is this the year for Scott Laughton?" now that Coots is a solid Yes.
RJ Umberger (unless he gets bought out) - But please get him the fuck off the team to make some room.
Oscar Lindblom - He shows flashes of a Raffl-type player, best exemplified by his goal this morning (see below).
Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev - Philly's other two junior forward prospects
Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Petr Straka - Too old for juniors, not quite good enough for the Flyers
Danick Martel, Aaron Palushaj, Tyrell Goulbourne - The next step down in the Phantoms lineup

Ideally, I'd like to ice a fourth line of Laughton centering White and Vandevelde, although I know that would be horrible for Scotty's career development.

But, hear me out. That leaves a top six in Lehigh Valley of Cousins-Straka-Leier (the top three scoring forwards) and Lindblom-Fazleev-Aube-Kubel (their three prospects that are currently not in the USA). Throw in some more seasoning on Martel-Palushaj-Goulbourne and we should be able to create a trio good enough to play 8 minutes per game for the Flyers, while also leaving the Phantoms competitive in the AHL.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let's Re-Do The 2010 NHL Draft

I'm bored at work. It's super slow, the office shouldn't even be open, and I need to entertain myself somehow. And since I can't reasonably just spend the next 6 hours in the bathroom, let's rewind tghe calendar and re-do the top ten (or so) pick from an old NHL draft.

Today we are going back to Los Angeles in June 2010. These guys are all now firmly beyond their rookie deals, and there are quite a few impact players. As you might imagine, not all of them were selected in the early first round.

So, here we go. Let's re-order them.

1. Edmonton Oilers

This was such an Oilers pick. It will become more and more apparent as we re-draft everyone that they REALLY fucked this pick up. Again. Just like always. That's going to be the common theme of these re-drafts from the last decade or so. The Oilers just suck.

The Pick: Tyler Seguin. You could make an argument that one other person should go first overall, but you would be wrong.

2. Boston Bruins

The Bruins, of course, turned this pick into Loui Eriksson and some scrubs when they traded Seguin to Dallas. I hope that somebody eventually makes a really good documentary about that whole situation, because Boston could reasonably have a forward core of Seguin-Bergeron-Krejci-Marchand-Lucic-Rinaldo.

The Pick: Vladimir Tarasenko. Christ, that'd be terrifying.

3. Florida Panthers 

I'm not going to call Erik Gudbranson a bust because he's still in the league, but there are at least a dozen players (probably more like two or three dozen) that should probably have gone before him. Luckily for both Panthers fans in the world, they made up for it four years later by drafting Aaron Ekblad, who immediately became their best defenseman.

The Pick: Justin Faulk. There are some forwards that might be arguable here, but the Panthers wanted a defenseman and they picked the wrong one. It wasn't just Florida that fucked up, though - Faulk made it all the way to #37, behind D-men like Dylan McIlrath, Derek Forbort, and Alex Petrovic (no joke, the Panthers had 5 picks where they could have taken Faulk, and they used 2 of them on defensemen). Could you imagine if they were icing a top pair of Ekblad and Faulk? Maybe we would even take them seriously. Be better, Florida.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

I think I'm going to be an asshole here.

The Pick: Ryan Johansen. I don't think he's the problem, and I think they're going to regret trading him as much as Boston regrets trading Seguin.

5. New York Islanders

Nino Niederreiter wasn't necessarily a bad pick because he contributes today, but let's pick knits.

The Pick: Jeff Skinner. The Youngest All-Star Ever (remember to vote for Shayne or Claude here). The thought of him on this year's team (and the core that's going to be there for the next 3-5 years) legitimately has me shaking in my boots.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

Brett Connolly was eventually traded for a pair of 2nd Round Picks. You'd like to see a team do better than that with the sixth overall pick. Florida, again showing that they have no business being involved with hockey.

The Pick: Cam Fowler. How about a top-pairing (or at the very least top-four) defenseman?

7. Carolina Hurricanes

Hey guys, sorry we took away your stud rookie and the potential future of your franchise. How can we make it up to you?

The Pick: Nick Bjugstad? Emersen Etem? Brock Nelson? Tyler Toffoli? Christ, that's a pretty significant dropoff.

8. Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets

There were three Russians taken in the first round. Tarasenko should have been the first, and he was not. Evgeny Kuznetsov (great read here) should have been the second, and he also was not. The guy that bumped them down was Alexander Burmistrov, who spent some time in the AHL, some time in the KHL, and now finally plays for the team that (kind of) drafted him.

The Pick: Kuznetsov. Be better, teams from the Southeast United States.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flyers Awards: A Third Of The Way In

Obviously that would be "roughly a third of the way in" because the Flyguys have played 34 of their 82 games, but the Christmas break seems like the logical first time to stop and check in on the end-of-season team awards that they give out. We'll probably check in again at the All-Star break and then they do the actual awards at the end of the season.

Barry Ashbee Trophy - Outstanding Defenseman
Obviously, the ballot at the end of the season is likely to depend A LOT on the decisions that get made in the next six days. You can make the case, currently, for Michael Del Zotto or Shayne Gostisbehere. Mark Streit is also likely going to throw his name in the ring when he returns from his penis enlargement surgery.

Del Zotto is the most deserving through the first third of the season. He's been the leader in ice time and has been asked to take on a MUCH different role than he probably expected when he signed here. He's the team's number one defenseman, and I think it's safe to say he's far surpassed everyone's expectations of him.

Gostisbehere is  a fan favorite and he's incredible to watch and he breathed life into a dead team and yadda yadda yadda.. this is Del Zotto's award this year and they're going to have to pry it from his cold dead hands if they want to take it away from him.

Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy - Most Improved Player
Del Zotto is also probably the frontrunner for the Lindbergh, but in the interest of diversity let's look at a couple of options. Sean Couturier has established himself as the second line center, but we always kind of knew that's where he was going to end up. Brayden Schenn seems to have solidified himself as a top-six winger, which is a big step forward from him. Gostisbehere, of course, is going to get mentioned.

I think we're going to really have to wait and see what happens at the end of the season, but my picks to keep an eye on would be Del Zotto, Schenn, and Scott Laughton. I think Laughts needs to get put on a line with Matt Read and Sam Gagner to really get some offensive chemistry flowing, and I hope it's only a matter of time until we see that small, speedy trio.

Gene Hart Memorial Award - Most Heart
There are quite a few Heart guys on this Flyers team, as there are every year. Wayne Simmonds probably exemplifies it the most, but there are like ten guys on this team that qualify as Heart guys. Simmer, Giroux, Bellemare, Vandevelde, White, Gudas, and Schultz are all rated 90 or higher in the EA Sports NHL 2016 "heart" skill category.

Ultimately, my heart (pun intended) tells me to give it to Bellemare. PEB has dealt with a lot - especially off the ice - and he's continued to anchor the quietly awesome third/fourth line. He doesn't get paid a lot, he normally gets crushed with defensive zone starts, he has to kill penalties, and he still has managed to become a fan favorite and is someone that the fan base wants to keep around for a long time.. or forever.

He's another guy that I'd like to see get some more talented linemates at even strength. If Gagner is not in the long-term plan. then throw Pebbles out with Laughton and Read to see what kind of damage they can do together.

Yanick Dupre Memorial Class Guy Award - Strong Rapport With The Media
This was kind of a weird award for me to pick, but I LOVE the relationship that Wayne Simmonds and Chris Therien have on the bench in their mid-game interviews.

Bobby Clarke Trophy - Most Valuable Player
As long as Claude Giroux wears an orange sweater with a 28 on the back and a capital C on the front, he will always be this team's most valuable player.

Golden Hockey Stick - Best Czech Player
This one isn't an official Flyers award (I can't really find who awards it, but I assume it has to be the King or Czar of the Czech Republic or whatever). But we have three Czechs on the team, and we need to award one of them with this solid gold piece of wood.

Jake Voracek, Michal Neuvirth, Radko Gudas: who you got?

I Think We Finally Need To Talk About This Mark Streit Situation

The Flyers won last night, and boy was it a hell of a win. They completed their season sweep of the Blues, which is pretty damn impressive considering expectations for both teams this year. There are people on the internet who will write better recaps than I can, but here's the bullets version:

  • Wayne Simmonds scored two goals, and they were both assisted by Jake Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere
  • Chris Vandevelde scored a shorthanded goal to kickstart the Flyers' comeback (at the time, they were down 3-0 and had their best penalty killer in the box for a garbage hooking penalty). CVV also had the secondary assist on the game-winner
  • Ryan White made a beautiful (/greasy) pass to Evgeny Medvedev to put the Flyers ahead with about three minutes to play, and they held onto that lead until the end
It was a great game to see in person, both for the comeback and the friendly reminder that Philadelphia sports fans have a pretty hostile relationship with referees. Voracek got called for a roughing penalty for a play on which he quite literally had no contact with anybody on the opposing team. Radko Gudas participated in a six-man scrum after St. Louis took a penalty and got sent to the box for doing so. Claude Giroux's hooking penalty was so bad that I shattered the ear drums of everyone around me with boos. The arena music guy played the piano riff that is supposed to lead the fans to chant "Let's Go Flyers!" - it turned into an unmistakable "Ref You Suck!" 

And then, of course, Vandevelde smashed home the rebound from a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shorthanded breakaway, and the boys were off to the races. 

Everything's happy in Flyertown going into this Christmas vacation before the second West Coast Road Trip of the year. We also get the Travs on national television the day after Christmas. 

But it's finally time to figure out what the hell is going to happen when Mark Streit comes back to the team on the 27th. There are a few options, and none of them are particularly appetizing. 

Option 1: The One That's Easiest, But Nobody Wants To Even Think About

The Lord Voldemort of roster moves, if you will. 

When Streit's penis fell off, you'll recall that the Flyers brought up a rookie offensive-minded defenseman to take his place. That rookie defenseman, of course, is Shayne Gostisbehere. He's lit the league on fire, energized the team, and become a fan favorite in less than 20 games. 

(Fun note: If you take the train home from Flyers games, you've probably seen the guy with a mohawk and matching Flyers logo tattoos on either side of his scalp. That guy has a Flyers Winter Classic Gostisbehere jersey. What the hell else do I even need to say? Everyone loves the kid.)

The easiest move, in terms of roster transactions, is to re-activate Streit and send Ghost down to the Phantoms. The cap situation will be the same as it was before Streit's penis snapped in half, and we will call Ghost up no later than the February 29th trade deadline. 

Honestly, I don't think Philadelphia can survive - as a city, not even just as a hockey team - without Gostisbehere in town for two months. 

Option 2: Try To Move Scott Laughton and Brandon Manning To The Phantoms

If moving the Ghost Bear is really off your list, there are two other names that, when moved down together, would create enough cap room to make everything work. 

I'm fine with moving Scott Laughton down, and I think he'd benefit by playing more minutes per game and having a more offensive role. That part makes sense, and his two-way contract means we can essentially assign him right to Lehigh Valley without risking him going through waivers. Great, I'm all for that (and Laughton is the only guy besides Ghost with that kind of two-way deal).  

But the money doesn't work if it's just Laughton, so you have to move Brandon Manning down too. And Manning is 25 years old, which means he would have to clear waivers. Say what you will about Brandon Manning, but can't you see somebody taking a chance at the 25 year old defenseman at $625k per year? I mean there's no risk, no cost, and no downside to claiming him. 

Why would Ron Hextall risk that? He wouldn't, which is why it won't happen. 

Option 3: Trade Someone

If I'm not already on record, I'd like to officially go on record and say that I think we should keep Mark Streit until next year's deadline. He'll still fetch a first- or second-round pick as a rental for a playoff run, but we'll have his presence in the locker room and on the ice for the following guys: Ghost, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Mark Alt, Ivan Provorov, and maybe Travis Sanheim. 

This is a CRITICAL time for these young Flyers defensemen. Do we want them mentored by a guy who's been a pro for twenty years (and a captain, in some capacity, for most of them) or Michael Del Zotto and Radko Gudas?

I know I'm definitely on record as saying I think we should keep Luke Schenn. He's a bruiser, a right-handed shot, a fan favorite (chicks, at least), and it's awesome that he plays on the same team as his younger brother. Plus he has a no trade clause so we might have issues shipping him out of town. I'd love to see him agree to a Nick Schultz kind of contract - even bumping him to 2-3 years at $2.5-3.5 million would be a solid value. I'm sure he'll fetch more on the open market as an unrestricted free agent, but we can't let that impact our judgment for obvious, have-happened-in-the-past, highest-paid-player-in-AHL-history reasons. 

Speaking of Schultz, people rag on him but $2.25 isn't a bad cap hit. He kills penalties and the rest of the team seems to like him. I like him and Streit as a second pairing for this year through to next year's trade deadline. If we can't get anything good for Schultz, then he walks away after 2016-17 and we're done with him. 

It almost kind of goes without saying, but Michael Del Zotto and Radko Gudas are also firmly off the trading block. They're our top pair, and I don't expect that to change when Streit returns. MDZ is a better version of Streit, and Gudas is just better at everything than Schultz. 

That leaves us with one defenseman left to trade who will clear enough cap room to keep Shayne in town: Evgeny Medvedev. But don't worry, I love Meddy and I think his story is one of the best in the NHL this year. So I'm going to take care of him, and send him to a team that will (1) accept him and allow for a smooth transition (2) appreciate his talents and let him be himself (3) let him make a long playoff run and show him the best kind of hockey in the world. Bullets style:
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin is also Russian, but Fuck The Penguins. 
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: Fedor Tyutin and Sergei Bobrovsky are Russian, but I said I wanted Meddy to be on a team that's going to make a run at the Stanley Cup. So the BJ's are out. 
  • Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk is an interesting Russian old guy (I bet him and Medvedev could have some good chats about the good old days of the USSR), but the Red Wings currently have the following cap hits on their roster on defense: $6 million, $4.75 million, $4.25 million, $4.25 million, $2.75 million, $2.4 million, $2.1 million. I mean Christ, if they aren't happy with that group of guys then they should fire everyone in their front office. I'm thinking they're probably set. 
  • Montreal Canadiens: The Habs are strangely similar to the Red Wings. They have great team and a pair of solid Russians (including an Alternate captain), but a lot of money already committed to the back end. Barring any injuries, we probably won't see a Medvedev-Andrei Markov-Alexei Emelin trio in the playoffs. 
  • Chicago Blackhawks: Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are both Russian. Then there's the whole Kimmo Timonen situation from last year. I'd love for that situation to happen again (although with a lot less emotion in Philly this time around). Again, the big issue is the salary cap. The Hawks would need a mysterious Patrick Kane wrist injury to create some cap space before the playoffs to create a stacked team for a deep Cup run. Hmmm....
  • Washington Capitals: The best Russian player ever in Alex Ovechkin. The fifth-best (maybe?) Russian in the league in Evgeny Kuznetsov. Other Russians Dmitriy Orlov (?) and Stanislav Galiev (??). First place in the Metro, dominating the East, solid on offense and in goal. They would be able to ice a solid top four defensemen, but Brooks Orpik has a mysterious lower body injury that has his $5.5 million cap hit on the IR for "a long time." The Caps have every pick except their third next draft and every pick the following draft. Would a slick-skating, heavy-shooting defensemen fetch a second round pick? I'd love to see Meddy end up in Washington. I feel dirty trading the kind of player Medvedev is to a team within the division, but it really is the best place for him. 
Option 4: Hire Rocky From The First Fifteen Minutes Of "Rocky"

Before he was a boxer, Rocky Balboa broke kneecaps for the mob. There are a few kneecaps on the Flyers' payroll that need breaking. Vinny Lecavalier, for instance, could make all these issues go away if he agreed to terminate his contract (or if "broken kneecaps" qualifies for Long-Term IR). RJ Umberger could also go for a date with the Italian Stallion, but I imagine he'd just lie about his injury and play through his broken knees. The third member of The Kneecaps Trio is, of course, Five Million Dollar Annual Salary Minor League Hockey Player Andrew MacDonald. 

Do we want to be breaking the legs of our own players? Not really, if only because it will deter people from signing here in the future. 

But we also don't want to be forced into a trade and get less than we might be able to get in two months. 

Buuuuut we alllllso don't want to punish the most exciting player in Philly sports and piss off the fans at the same time. 

So I don't know, Ron. You have a terrible decision to make, and I don't see how you can make it without pissing a big group of people off. I definitely do not envy the position you're in, and I hope to god you follow your track record and make the right move. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Sean Couturier Graveyard

Here lie the bones of the men who unsuccessfully attempted to play hockey against Sean Couturier. May they rest in peace for eternity.

October 14 - Chicago Blackhawks
Couturier played most of his time (about 8 of his 11 minutes at even strength) against Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. He played them even in Corsis, held them off the score sheet, and assisted on Matt Read's goal to ice the game. 

October 21 - Boston Bruins
The Couturier-Read-Simmonds line spent most of their ice time matched up with Boston's Eriksson-Krejci-Pastrnak line. The Coots line out-Corsi'd the Krejci line by 2-4 (depending on the player) and held them off the score sheet at even strength except for a Krejci assist on Jimmy Hayes' goal. 

During the Bruins game, Couturier was cheap-shotted in the head by Noted Scum Of The Earth Zac Rinaldo. He was out with a concussion until November 5th. 

November 5 - Calgary Flames
The Flyers were in Calgary for this game, and thus didn't have the luxury of being able to match the Coots line against the Gaudreau-Bennett-Monahan line. They played pretty evenly against all four Flames lines and all three defensive pairs, and they murdered all of them. This was a big "Welcome Back Coots" game, in which his line finished +15 Corsis at even strength and played with a little big of life, which they'd been lacking in his absence. 

November 7 - Winnipeg Jets
Another road game, another night that Dave Hakstol was unable to get the Coots line matched the way he would have liked. We're adding the Jets' line of Burmistrov-Stafford-Ehlers to the graveyard, because they were shut down and out-Corsi'd, but this is one of the less impressive sets of bones in the boneyard. 

November 12 - Washington Capitals
This was the biggest test (to that point) of the season for the Coots line. They were at home, and Hakstol matched them up with the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie line for about 8 of their 11 even strength minutes. The Coots line out-Corsi'd the Ovi line by half a dozen, and out-High-Danger-Scoring-Chance'd them 3-2. Oshie scored (it was a greasy rebound goal if I remember correctly), but you can't blame this loss on the second line because they played as well as anyone can against that Caps line. 

November 14 - Carolina Hurricanes
The Couturier line followed up one of their toughest matchups with one of their easiest. At Carolina, the Canes seemed to aim for the matchup of Rask-Terry-Lindholm against Couturier-Read-Simmonds. The boys in orange (and white) out-Corsi'd them by double digits and were each +1 for the night, but failed to generate anything that showed up on the scoreboard. Simmonds was credited with a goal, but it was a Brandon Manning pass to set up a Shayne Gostisbehere shot from the point that ended in a goal (his first NHL point, by the way). The rumblings were in full force by this time - Flyers Facebook was overrun with people criticizing this line, despite the fact that they had shut down everyone in the graveyard through the first month of the season. 

November 17 - Los Angeles Kings
Home game. High-powered line on the other side. Coots line shut them down. The Carter-Toffoli-Lucic line is an intimidating one, and the Coots line played them even in Corsis and didn't even allow a single high-danger scoring chance at even strength. Lucic scored with a minute left in the game when Hakstol put out his "Can't Handle The Puck, Can't Generate Any Kind Of Zone Exits, Hopefully Will Block Some Shots" lineup. But nobody cared, because this was the night the Shayne Gostisbehere era officially began. 

November 25 - New York Islanders
Road game. High-powered line on the other side. Coots line shut them down. This time it was Tavares-Nelson-Okposo, who were out-Corsi'd by double digits by Courutier & Co. The Flyers lost again, but again you cannot blame the shutdown line. They allowed one goal from one of the best lines in the Eastern Conference, but - stop me if you've heard this one before - the Flyers couldn't generate enough goals to win. 

November 28 - New York Rangers
The Flyers entered Madison Square Garden having not won a game there since the team captains were Richards, Carter, Pronger, and Timonen. The whole team, really, dominated the Rangers in this 3-0 shutout. But the Coots line was exceptional: they spent most of their time matched up with the Miller-Fast-Lindberg line, kept them off the scoreboard (obviously), and out-Corsi'd them. Simmonds scored twice and assisted on Couturier's goal. This was also the night that Luke Schenn fought someone and got an instigator penalty that was served by his younger brother, which is a really cool thing to have happened. 

December 1 - Ottawa Senators
The Coots line spent most of the game playing against the Stone-Lazar-Zibanejad line, who they out-Corsi'd by double digits (Couturier finished +12 at even strength). Coots had a goal and two assists, Simmonds had one of each, and Gostisbehere scored again. All was well in Flyerland, as the win brought the team to .500 on the season.

December 8 - New York Islanders
I know the Coots line already killed them, but they spent almost the whole game against that Tavares-Okposo-Nelson line and dominated them again (+9/13/15 Corsis). Unfortunately, Jaro Halak made 43 saves on 46 shots and Steve Mason made 7 saves on 10 shots, and the Flyers lost in a shootout (on that filthy move by Okposo). 

December 17 - Vancouver Canucks
With a new linemate, the expectations for Couturier's offensive game are increased. But playing with Simmonds and Voracek isn't going to diminish his influence on the defensive end. And it should actually lead to him playing even more against the other team's top competition. Against Vancouver, the New Coots Line was matched up against both Sedins (and then just one after Henrik got hurt). The line all finished with a positive Corsi differential against the Sedins, Alex Burrows (their usual third), and Bo Horvat (who filled in for Henrik). But shutting down the top line, they kept the whole Canucks team off the scoresheet. The three of them also combined for a goal, as Jake and Wayne assisted on Sean's goal in the third period. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sean Couturier Is A Second Line Center

I was browsing Twitter this morning and I came across the following exchange between Sean Tierney (who I did not follow until today but is a good follow if you like analytics), Collin Mehalick (A+ follow if you like the Flyers), and Muneeb Alam (A++ follow if you like hockey):

 Clearly, my belief is that Coots belongs in the second line center spot (especially if he's flanked by Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek), but I wanted to make my list to see where he falls. I'm going to go throwback Bill Simmons category style with this, and we'll see what happens.

The Unquestionable List Of Top Ten Centers That We Can Knock Out Quickly

In no particular order (wink face):
  • Claude Giroux, Flyers
  • Tyler Seguin, Stars
  • John Tavares, Islanders
  • Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
  • Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings
  • Steven Stamkos, Lightning
  • Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks
  • Anze Kopitar, Kings
  • Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
  • Sidney Crosby, Penguins
If you have any one of these guys on your team, they are centering the top line. If you have more than one of these guys on your team, then you have an issue with cap allocation and you probably aren't that good. 

Older Guys That You Would Probably Maybe Take Over Couturier

Age, of course, plays a factor in this discussion. Coots just turned 23. He has like ten years of his prime left (I popped a boner typing that sentence). Long term, I'd rather have him than any of these guys. But I'll entertain this list because I think it's going to end up being unequivocal that Sean Couturier is one of the 60 best centers in the NHL:
  • Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (37)
  • Joe Thornton, Sharks (36)
  • Henrik Sedin, Canucks (age 35)
  • Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (33)
  • Patrick Sharp, Stars (33)
  • Mike Cammalleri, Devils (33)
  • Mikko Koivu, Wild (32)
  • Jason Spezza, Stars (32)
  • Alex Steen, Blues (31)
  • David Backes, Blues (31)
  • Frans Nielsen, Islanders (31)
  • Eric Staal, Hurricanes (31)
  • Joe Pavelski, Sharks (31)
  • Jeff Carter, Kings (30)
  • Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (30)
  • Paul Statsny, Blues (30)
  • Carl Soderberg, Avalanche (30)
  • David Krejci, Bruins (29)
To varying degrees, you could argue that you'd rank these guys over Couturier on a year-by-year basis. I'm fine with including them in this exercise, but if you would rather have Nielsen/Statsny/Soderberg than Couturier, please include your Twitter handle in the comments so I can mock you and then block you. 

Young Guys That Are In The Discussion

On the other end of the spectrum are guys who have the same amount of years left (or more), and that makes the discussion a little gray. Flyers fans - or at least the ones that are not #bad and #dumb - will rave about Coots' upside. I'm sure the fans of these teams would do the same for their guys:
  • Nick Bjugstad, Panthers (23)
  • Mikael Granlund, Wild (23)
  • Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers (22)
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (22)
  • Mark Scheifele, Jets (22)
  • Mike Zibanejad, Senators (22)
  • Boone Jenner, Blue Jackets (22)
  • Victor Rask, Hurricanes (22)
  • Vincent Trocheck, Panthers (22)
  • Sean Monahan, Flames (21)
  • Alex Galchenyuk, Canadiens (21)
  • Filip Forsberg, Predators (21)
  • Aleksander Barkov, Panthers (20)
  • Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (20)
  • Leon Draisaitl, Oilers (20)
  • Max Domi, Coyotes (20)
  • Jack Eichel, Sabres (19)
  • Dylan Larkin, Red Wings (19)
  • Connor McDavid, Oilers (18)
  • Oscar Lindberg, Rangers (24, but in his rookie season)
There are a bunch of no-brainers here. Rookies Domi, Eichel, Larkin, and McDavid look to all be on their way to that first group. Forsberg and MacKinnon are already among the league's best. Zibanejad and Scheifele are especially interesting, because they were taken with the two picks before Couturier. 

(Side note: find me a trio of guys that got drafted back-to-back-to-back with more talent and more confusing names. you can't.)

Guys In Their Early-To-Mid-Twenties
  • Matt Duchene, Avalanche
  • Ryan O'Reilly, Sabres
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals
  • Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
  • Ryan Johansen, Blue Jackets
  • Kyle Turris, Senators
  • Mathieu Perreault, Jets
  • Tyler Toffoli, Kings
  • Derick Brassard, Rangers
  • Bryan Little, Jets
  • Leo Komarov, Maple Leafs
  • David Desharnais, Canadiens
  • Tyler Bozak, Maple Leafs
  • Mike Hoffman, Senators
  • Tyler Johnson, Lightning
  • Artem Anisimov, Blackhawks
  • Brandon Pirri, Panthers
  • Logan Couture, Sharks
  • Martin Hanzal, Coyotes
  • Derek Stepan, Rangers
  • Tyler Ennis, Sabres
Similar to the previous group, there are a few guys here who are almost unquestionably above Coots in anyone's ranking. There are also a lot of guys here who are almost unquestionably below him. 

In Conclusion

On Sean Couturier as a top six center: yes. That's the top ten (10), the guys over 30 (18), guys younger than Coots (20), and guys in their mid-twenties (21). Add it all up and you get 69 players (nice) than could possibly be in the discussion with Couturier. Axe whoever you want to axe, because I'm sure there are at least a couple dozen players that could be chopped off the ballot. Here's how I did that:

The top ten guys, obviously, are above Couturier. 

Factoring in age/the future, Couturier is above just about everybody in the 30+ group. Ignoring age, I'd concede everyone in that group except Sharp, Koivu, Spezza, Nielsen, Statsny, and Soderberg. That's 12 more to bring our running tally to 22 guys above Coots. 

Continuing on in order of descending age, the mid-twenties group are all largely established. I'd be fine putting Coots right smack dab in the middle there, so let's add another 10 to bring our tally to 32. 

The youngsters are tricky, because most will be making about 15% of Couturier's salary next year. I'll concede the four star rookies, MacKinnon, Barkov, Forsberg, Galchenyuk, and Monahan.

Our final tally is 41 centers that we'd rank above Sean Couturier. That leaves a lot of room to concede more names in case I missed any. He's capable of shutting down any line in the league, and he's now paired with a couple of offensive talents - so the sky is the limit. 

On the rest of the league, in bullets form:
  • I would not like to be a Sharks fan because they are a bunch of geezers. 
  • Edmonton and Florida seem to be in great shape for the next few years. 
  • Every team in the league is represented here (70 players divided by 30 teams makes for an average of 2.3 per team), and the most common for this exercise are Detroit (3), Buffalo (3), San Jose (3), Montreal (3), Colorado (3), St. Louis (3), Edmonton (3), NY Rangers (3), and Florida (4). 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Steven Stamkos Needs A New Home

If you missed all the discussion about Steven Stamkos yesterday, then you probably follow less hockey writers on Twitter than I do. Because I saw the screencap of his Twitter page - his only Like ever was on a story about him going to Toronto - roughly a thousand times yesterday.

The like has since been removed, but the point remains: it's December, and Stammer still hasn't re-upped with the Lightning. They are trying to conserve as much money for the Triplets and Victor Hedman, and it seems like they were hoping for a hometown discount.

Except Steve's hometown is not Tampa Bay. It's Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs only have about $6 million in cap space, but they have the following contracts coming off the books after this year:

  • Michael Grabner ($3 million)
  • Shawn Matthias ($2.3 million)
  • Nick Spaling ($2.2 million)
  • P.A. Parenteau ($1.5 million)
  • Marc Acobello ($1.1 million)
  • Brad Boyes ($700k)
  • Roman Polak ($2.75 million)
  • James Reimer ($2.3 million)
Obviously, at least a few of those guys will be re-signed. The most notable are Parenteau (8 goals on the season) and Reimer (because Jonathan Bernier is a tire fire). 

That will leave Toronto with right around $25 million committed to five forwards (Nazem Kadri's new contract plus Joffrey Lupul, James van Reimsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and Daniel Winnick). They also have Nathan Horton's $5.3 million on the books until 2020 or until he retires. 

On defense, the Leafs have the mammoth Dion Phaneuf contract ($7 million per year until 2021) and Jake Gardiner's $4 million returning. The rest of the defense will likely be rookies and young players with contracts around $1 million each. The question on defense is Stephane Robidas, who's signed for $3 million this year and next but has not played yet this year. 

That'll put Toronto somewhere in the $10-15 million dollar range under the cap, depending on how foolish they get filling out their bottom six forwards. They will have the ability to sign Stamkos to one of the five largest contracts in the league ($9 million+), and they've already hinted that their corporate partners will shower him with money too. 

This is obviously a very rough draft of their lineup, but couldn't they go with a top six of Lupul, Stamkos, Parenteau, van Reimsdyk, Kadri, Bozak and at least contend in most games? 

That seems like a really good move for Stamkos and for the Leafs if he (1) doesn't sign an extension with Tampa and require Toronto to trade some assets for him and (2) isn't moved at the deadline. He has a No Movement Clause, but I don't fucking know what it says specifically (so stop asking). 

Arizona Coyotes

Let's move from the destination the League would love to the destination the Commissioner would love. Hockey sticking in the southwest, for some reason, seems to be the goal. A huge step toward solidifying that would be getting one of the five most talented scorers in the league (and one of the two most attractive) to that market. It would also make for more a more notable rivalry between the 'Yotes and the incoming Las Vegas team. 

Only the Jets have more cap room than Arizona's $10.8 million, and that's largely driven by the young nature of the Coyotes' team and the exploitative nature of entry-level contracts. Only cornerstone defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (age 24, cap hit of $5.5 million) makes more than $4 million. 

To add to that cap room, the following contracts come off the books after this season: forwards Boyd Gordon ($3 million) Steve Downie ($1.75 million), Viktor Tikhonov ($1 million), Kyle Chipchura (875k), and John Scott ($575k) and defenseman Niklas Grossman ($3 million). 

The goal will be to replace as many of those as possible with young, recently-drafted talent, and it should end up leaving Arizona with around $15 million in cap room. 

Wait that's not that much more than Toronto, did I miss something?

Oh yeah, that's right. They have Shane Doan's $5.3 million (after this year) and Chris Pronger's $4.9 million (after next year) coming off as well. 

They have more than enough money to pay Stamkos, and they could, at some point in the next calendar year, ice a power play unit of Stamkos, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Ekman-Larsson, and (pick literally any fifth player to round this out). 

In looking at Arizona's cap situation, they've positioned themselves very well to maintain flexibility moving forward. They haven't committed big money to anybody except the stud OEL and goalie Mike Smith (granted, this is a big $5.66 million deal until 2019). If they determine that Stamkos could mesh with their current young core, it might make sense for them to overpay and offer to make him the highest-paid player in the NHL. 

Philadelphia Flyers

We covered what the commissioner wants, what the league wants and, allegedly, what Stamkos himself wants. Now lets' talk about what I want. It's my five-step plan to Flyers dominance:
  1. Vinny Lecavalier either retires or agrees to mutually terminate his contract in exchange for a million Comcast Spectacor stock options. Andrew MacDonald, in a surprising move, opts out of his contract and accepts a position as an assistant coach for the Phantoms at an exactly identical salary. 
  2. Because other teams need to reach the cap floor and would benefit from a veteran presence, Ron Hextall is able to move RJ Umberger next summer for the final year of his contract. 
  3. Andrew MacDonald continues to be a steady presence for the Flyers at the AHL level, preparing the prospects there for life with the big club. 
  4. Brayden and Luke Schenn both agree to Matt Read-esque contracts worth around $3.5 million per year each. 
  5. Sign Stamkos (currently 25 years old) to a deal that pays him $60 million over 6 years, so it will expire when Giroux's does. He will then be 32 and able to collect his big Toronto/end of career contract after winning multiple Cups as a Flyer. 
That gives us Giroux-Stamkos-Couturier down the middle, with Voracek, Schenn, Simmonds, Read, Bellemare, Vandevelde, Laughton and the prospects (notably Konecny) on the wings. 

I just popped a boner thinking about that top six (G-Jake-Brayden, Stamkos-Simmonds-Konecny), and oh yeah we'd also have one of the best shutdown lines in the league too (Coots-Read-Bellemare).

This is, unquestionably, not happening in real life. But I'm finally getting NHL for Christmas, and I'll let you guys know how many Stanley Cups in a row I win. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hockey Mythbusters (And Flyers Lineup Volume 7)

The Flyers lost last night. They should not have lost. The skaters outplayed the Islanders and the team as a whole had a Corsi differential of +24 (per Muneeb Alam).

Andrew MacDonald and Nick Schultz were a defensive pairing for about ten seconds, and the Isles scored their first goal. Steve Mason got beat on a wrist shot through Michael Del Zotto's legs, and the Isles scored their second goal. Team Philly couldn't close the deal against Jaro Halak in regulation, and we lost in a shootout. That's the summary.

So our defense is crap, there is a mild goalie controversy brewing, and the Flyers lost in a shootout (scoring 0 goals, including missed attempts by a gritty power forward and a rookie defenseman). Nothing new there. But in looking at Muneeb's game summary (below) and the War On Ice report, there were a few stats that stood out to me. Let's do this Mythbusters style, because why the hell not.
Confirmed: Andrew MacDonald stinks. 

Less than one minute into his so called "tryout" to prove his case for remaining in the NHL, AMac allowed an unchallenged zone entry and an unchallenged pass to the slot. Get him the fuck off my team, or figure out a loophole to give his contract to Gostisbehere.

Confirmed: Switching goalies mid-game gives the rest of the team a boost.

One of the best myths in sports. Mason let in a soft second goal after the MacDonald/Schultz ordeal and Dave Hakstoll yanked him from the game immediately. Michal Neuvirth pitched a shutout the rest of the way and allowed the Flyers to steal a point.

The "myth" is the team gets a boost from a new goalie, similar to the boost they get from a fight. But let me throw two stat lines at you from last night:

  • Steve Mason: +1 Corsi differential (17.2 minutes played)
  • Michal Neuvirth: +23 Corsi differential (36.9 minutes played)

The Goalie Switch Boost is definitely an intangible benefit, but that's a really tangible, visible, material difference. And, of course, the team was -2 with Mason in goal and +2 after Neuvirth took over.

Confirmed: The Couturier-Read-Simmonds line is one of the best in the NHL.

Another Flyers game, another night where 24-14-17 dominated one of the most skilled lines in the league. This is especially true at home, when Dave Hakstol can deploy them after the Islanders players to ensure the matchup happens. They've done it against just about everyone, and last night they added Tavares-Nelson-Okposo to their resume.

Some Comment Section Flyers Fans will probably point out that nobody on either line scored, but ending the game +9, +13, and +15 when you spent almost the whole game playing against the Islanders' top line is incredible. It was a night where the top three lines all looked great and the fourth line chipped in a goal, but these three are really something special.

Confirmed: Intangibles like Grit and Heart and Tenacity translate to hockey success.

How about that fourth line goal? Noted Good Hockey Players RJ Umberger and Ryan White combined for some nice puck movement and a tough shot through traffic. If I were the GM of Another NHL Hockey Team I would really make a play to add Umberger before the deadline. What a pass to set up the goal! So much talent, and he's a bargain at only four point six million dollars.

 That's pretty obviously sarcastic, but props to the fourth line for contributing on the scoreboard and not getting outplayed too bad.

Guys like White and Umberger (and let's toss Pierre Bellemare and Chris Vandevelde and even Wayne Simmonds in there too) are always going to be valuable to hockey teams. It's tough to quantify from an advanced stats perspective, but "compete level" and "willingness to make the greasy plays" really do matter.

PEB and CVV led the team last night with 4 high-danger scoring chances each. Ryan White had 3 (For reference, Couturier and Claude Giroux each had 2). Those three guys - the "old fourth line" - make a combined $2.2 million. That's less than half of Umberger and Vinny Lecavalier's individual salaries. The line, combined, makes about as much money as Brayden Schenn or Nick Schultz.

There is (allegedly) a big announcement coming today from Ron Hextall regarding Lecavalier. Obviously, the hope is a mutual termination of his contract. If we turned around and used that extra money to lock 76-78-25 up for a couple (or more) years, I'd love it. I think it's much better to "overpay" someone by giving them $2 million instead of $1 million than it is to pay anyone except a franchise cornerstone almost $5 million.

Plausible: Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux should be reunited on the Flyers' top line.

Speaking of franchise cornerstones, two of ours have been separated for like a month now. Jake's been playing with Bellemare and Vandevelde, who tend to have a different style of attack than the more talented Voracek. Claude's been playing with Schenn and Michael Raffl.

As far as "style of play" goes, the easiest switch in the world to make would be flipping Voracek and Raffl. Jake thrives on controlled entries, which Giroux and Schenn prefer. Bellemare and Vandevelde tend to dump and chase, which I find Raffl doing more than he should be.

Why not ice 10-28-93 and 76-78-12? You have a juggernaut line that should be generating a half dozen high-danger chances per game (or, at the very least, occupying the other team's best defensive line), and a line that's similar to the Couturier line (although not as talented). We would still have three lines that were NHL-caliber. We wouldn't be burying our $8 million winger. And we only have another month before we have to decide if we're extending Brayden's contract or trying to trade him - so let's figure out if he's a top six forward!

Flyers Lineup Volume 7

Schenn - Giroux - Voracek
Read - Couturier - Simmonds
Gagner - Laughton - Raffl
Vandevelde - Bellemare - White

Del Zotto - Gudas
Medvedev - Schultz
Gostisbehere - Manning

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Here's A Quick Look At The Top Ten Defensemen In The NHL All-Star Voting

We are one week into voting for the NHL's All-Star Game captains. There's about a month or so left of voting (I don't really know how this process works), so obviously a lot could change between now and The Big Hoedown In Nashville (TM). But here's the current leaderboard for defensemen:

No surprises with the top two. Subban and Karlsson are the best offensive defensemen in the game.

Burns, Weber, Byfuglien, and Doughty are also firmly in the Elite class for d-men.

Klingberg and Ekman-Larsson (both Swedish, fun fact of the day) are young defensemen on the rise, but they've taken decidedly different paths to this point. OEL was the 6th overall pick in 2009, and has largely been tearing it up for crappy Coyotes teams for the last five years. Klingberg was taken 131st overall the year after Ekman-Larsson and is playing just his second season in Dallas. OEL led all defensemen in scoring last season, and Klingberg currently leads the entire Western Conference in points and assists.

I have no idea why Rob Scuderi is in the conversation at all. His career highlight was winning the NCAA Championship while he was at BC (they beat North Dakota, but Scuderi is so fucking old that it was three years before Dave Hakstol even arrived there). Maybe his two Stanley Cups (Pittsburgh in 2009 and Los Angeles in 2012) would be considered highlights, but he's never been an elite-level defenseman and he was definitely not the driving force behind either of those Cup runs. File this one under "¯\_(ツ)_/¯".

And that brings us to the last name on the list. The top eight vote-getters have played (respectively) 394, 424, 744, 741, 712, 625, 92, and 550 games in the NHL (the tenth has played 367). The ninth guy on that list has played 13.


That might be my favorite stat of Ghost's young career. Yes, the powerplay goals and overtime winners are awesome. Yes, he's breathed life into a pretty miserable Flyers season. Yes, he has great chemistry with the team's captain and one of the three best all-around players in the league. But he's top ten in All-Star voting despite playing almost 9 full seasons worth of games fewer than Scuderi/Burns/Weber and between 5-6 full seasons worth fewer than Subban/Karlsson/Doughty.

The kid is electric, and it's great for him to be second in the Metro in votes for defensemen. The four guys behind him right now are Justin Faulk, Kris Letang, Johnny Boychuk, and Ryan McDonagh. I have a sad feeling that some combination of those four will end up representing the division in Nashville, but a large part of me hopes that the league acknowledges that his skill set is tailor-made for the 3-on-3 tournament and gives him a spot.

After all, six rookies made appearances last year (5 forwards, 1 defensemen). If I had to name the 6 most deserving rookies at this point, Panarin/Domi/Larkin are obvious locks. Jack Eichel is also a safe bet. The final two spots would be given to some combination of Oscar Lindberg, Anthony Duclair, Colton Parayko, Sam Bennett, and Gostisbehere.

Let me make the quick case for Ghost in two points: (1) you need to have one rookie on each division's team (2) everyone knows the Rangers' only actual All-Star is Henrik Lundqvist.

Boom. NHL All-Star Ghost.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Let's Take A Look At The USA WJC Camp Invite List

We previewed the camp invites for Team Canada last week (I may have referred to it as the final roster, whoops, sue me). Now let's take a look at Good Old Team America.

To summarize in one sentence: this is not as good as team Canada.


Alex Nedeljkovic, Hurricanes' #37 pick in 2014
Brandon Halverson, Rangers' #59 pick in 2014
Luke Opilka, Blues' #146 in 2015

One would think Ned figures to be the starter, though Halverson could get the nod just based on the fact that he's in the Rangers organization and is therefore an elite goalie.


First Round Talent
Zachary Werenski, Blue Jackets' #8 pick in 2015

Other Guys That Have Been Drafted
Brandon Carlo, Bruins' #37 pick in 2015
Ryan Collins, Blue Jackets' #47 in 2014
Louis Belpedio, Wild #80 in 2014
William Borgen, Sabres' #92 in 2015

2016 Prospects
Charlie McAvoy, ranked #15 by and #6 by McKeen's
Chad Krys, ranked #21 by ISS and #25 by Future Considerations
Casey Fitzgerald, not ranked but related to the Hayes and Tkachuk families (including Matthew, who you will see in about five-six minutes depending on how fast you read)
Brandon Fortunado, not ranked but plays for BU where the camp is being held


First Round Talent
Sonny Milano, Blue Jackets' #16 pick in 2014
Nick Schmaltz, Blackhawks' #20 in 2014 (not to be confused with the Flyers' Nick Schultz, who is waaaay too old and bad to play in the World Juniors)
Colin White, Senators' #21 in 2015 (not the shithead who used to play for the Devils)
Brock Boeser, Canucks' #23 in 2015

Other Guys That Have Been Drafted
Paul Bittner, Blue Jackets' #38 pick in 2015
Ryan MacInnis, Coyotes #43 in 2014
Ryan Donato, Bruins' #56 in 2014
Christian Dvorak, Coyotes #58 in 2014
Anders Bjork, Bruins #146 in 2014

2016 Prospects
Auston Matthews, ranked #1 by Every Scout On The Face Of The Planet
Matthew Tkachuk, ranked #2 by ISS and #4 by
Kiefer Bellows, ranked #12 by ISS and #14 by McKeen's
Clayton Keller, ranked #12 by and #17 by ISS
Alex "The Cat" DeBrincat, ranked #16 by and #19 by McKeen's
Scott Eansor, not ranked but described as "scrappy" in the first news article I found about him
Ryan Hitchcock, not ranked but went to Yale and has an "impressive" hockey sense

Like Team Canada, the team loses the cream of the crop because their three most talented qualifiers (Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, and Dylan Larkin) are all contributing at the NHL level and will thus not be playing in the World Juniors.

Canada will draw the eye of Islanders, Coyotes, Panthers, Flyers, Devils, and Leafs fans because the team has multiple prospects from each organization. Team USA will draw eyes from Coyotes fans as well (what a time to be a hockey fan in Arizona), along with Bruins and Blue Jackets fans and anybody who roots for a team bad enough to have a chance at Matthews.

The Grammys Nominees Were Announced

I am no longer a "music guy." In college I took advantage of not having anything to do ever and I stayed up with new music. One time a girl I liked even asked me to make her a gym playlist (nbd but hbd, I know).

Nowadays, I'm too fucking old. No joke when Trap Queen was just starting to gain popularity, my younger brother made me feel like a goddamn baby boomer for not having heard it. Now I have sacks of escarole all over my house, but I still wouldn't say I'm good with new music.

And so with that in mind, obviously there's nobody better than me to dig through the Grammy nominees and tell you who I think should win.

Record Of The Year - Uptown Funk
The other big ones in this category are Blank Space, Can't Feel My Face, and Thinking Out Loud. But my upstairs neighbor always plays TOL on his shitty acoustic guitar and Blank Space is like the third best song on that album. So the nod goes to Bruno Mars, who (1) is one of the best SNL guests in modern times and (2) sampled Trinidad James and turned it into one of the biggest songs of the year.

Album Of The Year - 1989
With no disrespect to The Weeknd (and slight disrespect to Alabama Shakes and Chris Stapleton), this is a two horse race. Taylor and Kendrick had the two biggest albums of the year except for maybe Megan Trainor, but she sucks. Ultimately I think 1989's mainstream appeal will edge out To Pimp A Butterfly, which is probably more deserving (according to people who think they're too good for Taylor - and those people are #wrong).

Best Dance Recording - Where Are (Umlaut) Now?
Sonny and Thomas and Justin should run away with this category, although I personally would have chosen What Do You Mean? as my top "dance" song from Purpose, but the Skrillex/Diplo credits make this a real stone lock for the category. Runaway (U & I) is also a jam, but not quite the size of the Biebs.

Best Rock Song - Exes and Ohs
I LOVE this song. I want to shout it from a mountaintop, but I don't have a mountaintop. I have a blog post. Generally this category is just "Best Song The Foo Fighters Released This Year"but I'd love to see Elle King steal one.

Best Rap Performance
In probably the biggest battle we'll see all night, this category pits Back To Back, Trap Queen, and Truffle Butter against each other. The best diss track of the last 20 years, the song of the summer, and the most played song that references a heinous sex act (all unofficial stats). I don't want to make a pick now, instead I'll wait for Bovada to set the odds and then tell everyone I know about those odds until the Grammys air on February 15th.

Best Latin Pop Album - A Quien Quiera Escuchar (To Those Who Want To Listen)
It's Ricky Martin, so duh. And bonus points for the title, because of course everyone on the planet Wants To Listen.

Best Music Video - Bad Blood
This should be the biggest slam dunk of the whole night. Say whatever you want about Taylor Swift, she took this song and remixed it with Kendrick, then featured Cindy Crawford, Meredith Grey, Mariska Hargitay, Jessica Alba, Cara Delevigne, Gigi Hadid, and Ellie Goulding (among others) in the video. It's like the chick version of every Entourage season.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Scoreboard: Flyers' Charities Military Appreciation Jersey Auction

If you can remember all the way back to November 10th, you might recall that the Flyers hosted a military appreciation night at the Wells Fargo Center. If that doesn't ring a bell, it was also the most depressing hockey game ever and Wawa's Clorox sales went through the roof. But this is a happy post, so we'll move on from those emotions.

The players wore camouflage jerseys for warmups that night, and those sweaters immediately got autographed and went up for auction to benefit the various charities affiliated with the Flyers. Those auctions are drawing to a close, and so it's a good time to check in on how much each shirt is fetching on the open market. You have until just after 9pm tonight to get your bids in - so if you need a last minute Christmas present and you have a ton of disposable income, link here.

Michael Del Zotto - Philadelphia Flyers - Military Appreciation Warmup-Worn Autographed Jersey

(Note: all of these auctions started at $250, and the minimum bid is an additional $20.)

The Battle For Last Place

Ryan White, current bid $290
I'm going to give Whitey a pass here because he's been out for a few weeks. You have to think if he was on the ice hitting guys and being Claude Giroux's best friend, he'd get some extra love.

Side note: White's been out for the entire Gostisbehere era, and it seems like Ghost might be trying to steal some of that best friend spotlight. Find out what happens when Ryan White returns, next week on Beverly Hills, 19148 (TM).

Matt Read, current bid $290
I am really surprised that Read's name is in this discussion. He's been around for a while, he's been on a productive line recently, and he's a pretty likable guy all around.

Nick Schultz, current bid $290
... well I think we can all agree that he belongs in this group.

First Season As A Flyer

Michael Neuvirth, current bit $310
What can you really say here? He's been lighting the league on fire this season. He's leading the league in save percentage and shutouts (despite only starting ten games). The issue, of course, is the short-term contract. Somebody is probably going to offer him a yacht full of money when his deal here is up, and nobody wants to be stuck with a camo jersey of a backup goalie that we had for two years.

Are These Guys Cornerstones Or Will They All Get Traded?

Michael Del Zotto, current bid $330
The current number one defensemen is also kind of a media personality, thanks to his relationships with Tyler Seguin and Lisa Ann. He's also kind of a dick though, and he's another guy that might just walk after his deal is up because somebody will probably overpay him.

Michael Raffl, current bid $330
I waffle back and forth on Raffl on an almost daily basis. At times, he looks like he completes the Giroux-Voracek line and is the glue that holds together one of the five best lines in the NHL. Other times, he looks like a shitty dump-and-chase fourth liner that has no business playing with anyone other than Chris Vandevelde. We'll see, I guess?

Brayden Schenn, current bid $370
The ultimate "Will he stay or will he go" guy - except for maybe his brother, who is such a question mark that they didn't even auction off his shirt. Brayden looks to have chemistry with Giroux, but it seems like he has a very short leash with fans and he probably has more trade value than anyone on the team (within reason). I like the Schenns, and I think they should both be brought back next year if it can be done on reasonable contracts. But obviously the fans aren't sure what's going to happen, and B's jersey value reflects that.

Steve Mason, current bid $400
Falling just outside the top five is the franchise goaltender that we need, deserve, and love. Ma$e has been solid, to the point where there is a decent case to be made for his backup to be in the All-Star Game and there STILL isn't a goalie controversy.

The Top Five

5. Sean Couturier, current bid $500
If this jersey wasn't $500, I was going to consider putting it under my Christmas tree. For all his alleged offensive woes, Coots puts up numbers where they count: in charity auctions that he has no control over.

T-3. Wayne Simmonds, current bid $520
Wayne Train has been on a tear recently, but he's always been a fan favorite and his jersey has been bet pretty steadily since the auction opened.

T-3. Claude Giroux, current bid $520
I, for one, am outraged that this is all G's shirt is fetching. I can't believe that there isn't a single grown up adult with more a thousand bucks lying around that could put an AUTOGRAPHED SPECIAL EDITION JERSEY of the captain in their basement bar/mancave. I mean come the fuck on, I can afford this shit now. Do the right thing, Main Line Dads.

2. Mark Streit, current bid $600
My outrage meter was pretty high for Giroux's jersey, and I'm tempted to just let it continue to rise for this Streit situation, but Streit's tied with Couturier for the most bids (9). People like him, despite his broken dick, and that's completely fine. It'll be nice to have his jersey one day so you can say "Remember this guy? We traded him for the pick that turned into that 19-year old winger who turned out to be the missing piece for our Stanley Cup run in 2018."

1. Jake Voracek, current bid $770
I think Paul Holmgren was involved in this bidding. It opened at $250, was quickly bid up to $270, and then someone swooped in and bid $750. On the first day of bidding! It's like on Cutthroat Kitchen when someone REALLY doesn't want to have to cook with a blindfold on and bids some exorbitant amount to drive everyone else away. Except, in the case, someone raised the bid to $770 less than 24 hours later (and it's been steady there for two weeks). So sucks for you, Person Who Now Has To Cook With A Blindfold On And Has No Jake Voracek Military Appreciation Jersey.

Jakub Voracek - Philadelphia Flyers - Military Appreciation Warmup-Worn Autographed Jersey

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My NHL All-Star Ballot As Of December 2nd

The NHL All-Star weekend isn't for almost two months, but they've opened the voting on and it's time to talk about who should be captaining the four division teams. Fans will vote on the captains, and then the NHL Department of Hockey Ops will fill out the rest of the rosters.

At the quarter pole of the season, we should be able to narrow down the ballots from roughly 1,000 players to a few from each division.


Let's start in Middle America, where the decision should be pretty unanimous. Patrick Kane has been destroying the NHL at a level that makes you think he should get called up to the next league above the NHL. But there isn't a next league up, and he's outperforming the most talented players in the world every night.

He's currently riding a 20 game point streak, and is leading the league with 23 assists and 38 points (he's also second in goals, with 15). His game is also tailor-made for the 3-on-3 format, and he's almost undoubtedly going to be the MVP of the whole thing at the end.

You could make a case for Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin to captain this team, or Kane's teammate Jonathan Toews, but this is really Patrick Kane's spot and I think we all know that.


Let's stay in the West, and talk about the Decidedly Less Good Pacific Division. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin and Edmonton's Taylor Hall are the only guys in the divison that are top ten in the league in points. Sedin, Colorado's Matt Duchene, and the Sharks' Joe Pavelski are in the top ten in the league in goals. The only goalie in the top ten for save percentage or goals against average is Colorado's Reto Berra (to his credit, though, San Jose's Martin Jones is tied for the league lead with 3 shutouts).

As far as forwards go, nobody is more fun to watch (3-on-3) in the Pacific than the Flames' Johnny Gaudreau. Like Kane, he's tailor-made for the open ice, and he's been a fan favorite for as long as he's been in the league. Arizona Coyote Max Domi, another Fan Favorite Young Gun, is probably too young to deserve it but will get a bunch of votes.

I don't know if we want a defenseman captaining the team, but if that's where we are looking then it would go to either Los Angeles' Drew Doughty or San Jose's Brent Burns.

Arizona's Shane Doan or San Jose's Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton could be given the nod as a lifetime achievement award, but I think they'd really just prefer the time off.

My vote goes to Gaudreau, but this one is wide open.


Back to the East, where the Atlantic divison captaincy is a pretty hotly contested vote. The top candidates:

  • Montreal's Max Pacioretty, PK Subban, and Carey Price
  • Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos
  • Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Dylan Larkin
  • Buffalo's Jack Eichel
  • Florida's Jaromir Jagr
  • Ottawa's Erik Karlsson
  • Nobody from the Bruins
  • Nobody from the Maple Leafs
This is a complete toss up for me. Part of me would love to see Larkin or Eichel thrust into the spotlight, but then I think that Stamkos or somebody from the Habs probably deserves it more. 

If you're going to put a gun to my head, I'm going with Jagr. Partially as one of the aforementioned lifetime achievement awards, but primarily because he is a treasure and we need to cherish him as much as we can before we lose him forever. 


There is so much star power in the Metro (and we know so much about all of the teams) that we're going to have to set some ground rules for this captain role:
  • No rookies or youngsters
  • No defensemen or goalies
  • Nobody who isn't the best player on their own team
  • Nobody that won't be electric in the 3-on-3 setting
By my judgment, that leaves us with five names to choose from. Let's go a little more in-depth.

Claude Giroux, Flyers
Let's lead with the best captain in hockey. He's well-suited for just about any hockey situation and his competitive nature is something the league really wants to inject into this All-Star tournament. Of course he's my pick, but I don't expect the general public to support G. Hence I have included a few other less good choices. 

John Tavares, Islanders
Similar to Giroux, Tavares seems to be good at just about everything. He also has (half of) the New York market backing him. This is a conversation for another time, but comparing G and Johnny as captains and as hockey players would lead to a very interesting commentary on what we value from the traditional Captain/First Line Center role. 

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers
The Speedy Little Ranger will succeed on the open ice, and he should be joining Hank Lundqvist on the All-Star roster, but I'm including him here just so I can note that he's better than everybody else on the Rangers. 

Sidney Crosby, Penguins

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
He has to end up getting the letter, right? I mean he's everyone's favorite player to watch - except for maybe Kane recently - and he was a huge hit at last year's All-Star Weekend. He's arguably the most offensively talented player in the division, and his occasional lapses on defenses are what make the 3-on-3 so fun to watch. 

My 2016 NHL All-Star Ballot: 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Let's Take A Look At The Canadian WJC Team

The 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship starts December 26th. If you aren't familiar, it pits (most of) the best hockey players under age 20 against each other on their national teams. It'll run for about two weeks, and we'll whittle the field down from 10 to 1. The contenders:

  • Group A: Canada, Sweden, United States, Denmark, Switzerland
  • Group B: Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Belarus

The past five years, the tourney was won by Russia, Sweden, the United States, Finland, and Canada. As good as Canada's teams always seem to be, the field is generally wide open. I don't see any odds yet, but that's partially because the squads were just announced. We'll get to Team USA eventually (maybe?), but let's start with America's Hat.

The biggest names from the 2015 draft will all be in attendance, with one major exclusion: Connor McDavid will not suit up for Team Canada, because (1) Brandon Manning killed him and (2) he's probably too good for this tournament. Also too good for this tournament are 2014 picks Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Jake Virtanen, and Robby Fabbri.

But there is a bunch of young talent on this team (obviously, because it's the Canadian WJC team), and it's going to be especially interesting for Islanders, Coyotes, Panthers, Flyers, Devils, and Leafs fans. Here's the complete roster:

2014 Draft

Forwards (7)
Michael Dal Colle, Winger (Islanders #5 pick)
Brendan Perlini, Wingers (Coyotes #12 pick)
John Quenneville, Center (Devils #30 pick)
Jayce Hawryluk, Winger (Panthers #32 pick)
Brayden Point, Center (Lightning #79 pick)
Rourke Chartier, Center (Sharks #149 pick)
Spencer Watson, Winger (Kings #209 pick)

Haydn Fluery, lefty (Hurricanes #7 pick)
Travis Sanheim, lefty (Flyers #17 pick/Future Stanley Cup Finals MVP)
Roland McKeown, righty (Kings #50 pick)
Brandon Hickey, lefty (Flames #64 pick)
Jake Walman, lefty (Blues #82 pick)
Joe Hicketts, lefty (Undrafted, signed by the Red Wings)

Mason McDonald (Flames #34 pick)

2015 Draft

Forwards (8)
Dylan Strome, Center (Coyotes #3 pick)
Mitch Marner, Center/Winger (Maple Leafs #4 pick)
Lawson Crouse, Winger (Panthers #11 pick)
Mathew Barzal, Center (Islanders #16 pick)
Travis Konecny. Center/Winger (Flyers #24 pick/future Alternate Captain to Sean Couturier)
Anthony Beauvillier, Winger (Islanders #28 pick)
Nick Merkley, Winger (Coyotes #30 pick)
Mitchell Stephens, Center (Lightning #33 pick)

Thomas Chabot, lefty (Senators #17 pick)
Noah Juulsen, righty (Canadiens #26 pick)
Travis Dermott, lefty (Maple Leafs #34 pick)
Vince Dunn, lefty (Blues #56 pick)

Mackenzie Blackwood (Devils #42 pick)

2016 Prospects

Forwards (2)
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Center/Winger
Julien Gauthier, Winger

Jakob Chychrun

And some bullets for the road:

  • I'd be really interested to see a line of Islanders prospects, with Barzal centering Beauvillier and Dal Colle. 
  • Konecny and Crouse have been best friends since they were six years old. Do you think they might have a little bit of chemistry?
  • The team only have two right-handed defensemen, so clearly that's why Ryan Suter won't be lacing up his skates in Helsinki.
  • I think there's a consensus that Canada produces the top hockey talent in the world. But in the context of the World Juniors, that can sometimes be a bad thing - and that's why the last five tournaments have been won by five different countries. The Canadiens are effectively missing a whole starting lineup worth of NHL talent with McDavid, Reinhart, Bennett, Virtanen, Fabbri, and NHL All-Star Aaron Ekblad (born in 1996... puts gun in mouth). That leaves the door wide open for the rest of the world to complete, and it should be an interesting couple weeks of hockey. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Flyers Should Trade For Ryan Suter

..okay, not actually. Because he's on my list of players that I don't think we could acquire without trading the captain, and that's not something we should even consider doing. Sorry for the clickbait.

But there was a post this afternoon on SB Nation about Ryan Suter not being happy with his situation in Minnesota. Basically, Suter is a left-handed shot. He's been paired Jonas Brodin recently, and his issue is that Brodin is also a left-handed shot.

That apparently causes issues for Suter (even though he just signed a contract that pays him $98 million), because his partner is thus playing on the weak side. It's easiest to see when you think of a team set up in the offensive zone, or preparing for a breakout from the defensive zone. You always want both defenseman to have their forehand toward the boards, but it's impossible to set up a roster that can always make that happen.

Flyers reference - here are our current pairs:

  • Del Zotto (lefty) and Gudas (righty)
  • Schultz (lefty) and Schenn (righty)
  • Gostisbehere (lefty) and Medvedev/Manning (both lefty)
  • PP1: Gostisbehere (lefty) and Voracek (lefty)
  • PP2: Del Zotto (lefty) and Medvedev/Manning (both lefty)
The first impulse move I'm making right now if I'm Dave Hakstol is swapping Schultz and Ghost, and then immediately looking to trade Schultz for a right-handed shot (or waiving him and sending him to Lehigh Valley in favor of Mark Alt). 

Maybe we should just let it be, though. We have too many left handed shots, and Mark Streit's return won't help because he's a lefty too. Maybe we can swap him for a young right-handed defenseman at the deadline, because it's not something that will be alleviated when Sanheim and Provorov - both also lefties - join the big club. It's only going to get more crowded on that side. 

The Ghost/Manning and Ghost/Meddy lines prove that it's not absolutely necessary to play on your strong side, but that definitely benefits the DZ/Gudas and Sch/Sch pairings. 

This situation also underlines just how much of a baby Ryan Suter is. I mean he's complaining about playing with a Twenty-Two Year Old Future Star Defenseman. Brodin would immediately be our top d-man, or would at least challenge MDZ for the honor. Let Suter trade places with Del Zotto and see if he can carry Gudas around for 25 minutes per game. 

Perhaps Suter is a little disgruntled that he's on a team paying 31, 32, and 33 year old forwards and a 30 year old defensemen (all with No Movement Clauses) a combined $26.4 million per year for this year and next year and that team is just 11-7-4 (12 points behind in their division) and on a three game losing streak. That take could be a little hot, but it's a small reminded that things could always be worse than Philadelphia. 

On Trading A Star Winger For A Top Defenseman

I came across an interesting tweet from FGSB, and it got me in the mood to hunt for a top D-man. Not that I don't love Michael Del Zotto, but the thought of him anchoring the defense for another year or two makes me want to lose my lunch.
We Would Have To Give Up Giroux And A Prospect And That Might Not Even Be Enough

Before we get into the guys that we might actually hypothetically be targeting, we should also cross off the cream of the crop. We don't want this to be like an EA NHL franchise mode with trade override turned on. There are 3 players aged 25-26 that should be untouchable forever:
  • PK Subban, Montreal (26 years old, $9.0 million cap hit)
  • Drew Doughty, Los Angeles (25, $7.0)
  • Erik Karlsson, Ottawa (25, $6.5)
And three more that are just a bit older:
  • Shea Weber, Nashville (30, $7.9)
  • Ryan Suter, Minnesota (30, $7.5)
  • Duncan Keith, Chicago (32, $5.5)
These are the six best defensemen in the league, and I have a really hard time believing that any of these teams would give up their top guy for anything reasonable. Sure, if we offered Giroux and Gostisbehere we could probably snag Doughty - but would that be worth it? Hell no!


We can kind of ignore that first group because it's just not reasonable to try to pry a superstar/franchise-anchor away from any NHL team. The next group is a step down, for sure, but might be available if the cap/contract situations were just right. I'm targeting someone in the 22-28 age range, and I did the Provorov test to compile the list. I asked myself "Would you rather have this guy or Provocop?" and if there was any question, I added them to the list. In order from highest salary to lowest:

  • Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (28, $7.3)
  • Dion Phaneuf, Toronto (30, $7.0)
  • Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis (25, $6.5)
  • Dougie Hamilton, Calgary (22, $5.8)
  • Justin Faulk, Carolina (23, $4.8)
  • Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers (26, $4.7)
  • Chris Tanev, Vancouver (25, $4.5)
  • Jack Johnson, Columbus (28, $4.4)
  • Dmitriy Kulikov, Florida (25, $4.3)
  • Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis (26, $4.3)
  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose (28, $4.3)
  • Jonas Brodin, Minnesota (22, $4.2)
  • Adam Larsson, New Jersey (23, $4.2)
  • Jake Gardiner, Toronto (25, $4.0)
  • Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles (26, $4.0)
  • Roman Josi, Nashville (25, $4.0)
  • Cam Fowler, Anaheim (23, $4.0)
  • Marco Scandella, Minnesota (25, $4.0)
  • Alec Martinez, Los Angeles (28, $4.0)
  • Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay (24, $4.0)
  • John Carlson, Washington (25, $4.0)
  • Justin Schultz, Edmonton (25, $3.9)
  • Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders (25, $3.9)
  • Erik Johnson, Colorado (27, $3.8)
  • Luca Sbisa, Vancouver (25, $3.6)
  • Jason Demers, Dallas (27, $3.4)
  • Torey Krug, Boston (24, $3.4)
  • Cody Franson, Buffalo (28, $3.3)
  • Jakub Kindl, Detroit (28, $2.4)
I tried my best to weed out people that are too old for us (or that stink). Beyond that list, I think it's a pipe dream to find defenseman with any more promise than Ivan Provorov. For reference, here is the Flyers defensive cap situation:

Here are three things that are #bad: Streit's contract, Streit's age, MacDonald's contract. It would be nice to have that $10,250,000 in cap room. Glad we got those out of the way. Now let's focus on some targets that could actually anchor the back line (or at least accompany MDZ better than Current Top Pairing Defense Player Radko Gudas).

Maybe We Could Trade Jake Voracek Straight Up

Let's clear one thing up. I think it would be stupid to trade Jake. We have plenty of defensive prospects in the pipeline, and far fewer offensive ones. It would be an impulse move and thankfully I can't see Ron Hextall making anything like it. Now, with that said, the following guys would make me at least consider parting ways with the Blonde Czech. 
  • Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis
  • Justin Faulk, Carolina 
  • Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers
  • Roman Josi, Nashville
  • Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay
Those five guys are all sure-fire top pairing defensemen. I started off saying I don't want to trade Jake, but we're here already so let's dive in. Hedman is almost certainly on his way to joining that untouchable group from earlier in the post. That's probably a no-go. Pietrangelo and Josi come from blue lines that are very talented, and could survive if those two were gone. McDonagh captains the Rangers and is the only thing keeping Henrik Lundqvist from playing 1-on-5 in their own end. 

Josi is the most interesting of this group (and FGSB mentioned his name as I was writing this). He's Swiss, so maybe Mark Streit went to high school with his dad or something. He also plays on a team with Shea Weber, Ryan Ellis, Barrett Jackman, and Seth Jones. Sadly, I think the Preds have a pretty ideal split of the cap between forwards and defensemen, and I'd imagine that Josi's not for sale. 

Justin Faulk is one of my favorite defensemen in all of hockey. He has a sweet mullet, he chips in offensively, and he can physically hold his own against almost anyone. Faulk is 23 and signed for less than $5 million until 2020. For me, personally, myself, I would consider trading Jake for Justin straight up. God I feel dirty for typing that sentence. Let's move on.

Jake Is Too Much To Give Up, What About One Of The Other Guys?

If we're looking to move a winger, there is a big group of guys that is decidedly less good than Jake Voracek. In some order, that group contains Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Michael Raffl, and Sam Gagner (that is my order, in terms of how much we'd likely be able to get for them). 

Likewise, there is a big group of guys that is decidedly less talented than the top 10-15 defensemen in the NHL. Maybe we could target them - after all, our current #1 defensemen is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80th in the league in salary, and our highest-paid defensemen has a broken penis and has been on the trading block for a year. 
  • Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis
  • Cam Fowler, Anaheim
  • Dougie Hamilton, Calgary
  • Adam Larsson, New Jersey
  • John Carlson, Washington
  • Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders
Simmonds has a No Trade Clause, but let's completely ignore that and assume he's on board with going elsewhere. Hamonic wants to go to Winnipeg to be with his family, which is a shame in the context of this post because he's probably my favorite of this group. I don't know of any individual limitations of the other guys, but there is a larger problem for Simmonds and defensemen of his caliber. 

As a fan I'd have a really hard time parting with Simmer. But it's largely sentimental, and I would expect the GM of each of these teams to demand a lot for their young d-men. That logic on both sides is why I think the number of trades made in the NHL is so low. Both sides want to be blown away in order to move their guys, and that simply can't happen. That's a recipe for a stagnant market.

What About The Guys That Are Crappier Than Wayne Simmonds?

With any player outside of those two groups, you're looking at someone who will be less likely to turn into stud defensemen and more reasonably will just be solid contributors on defense. That's not necessarily a bad thing in the NHL, but the cap inflexibility of the current Flyers means we can't afford to take on any more defensemen (or forwards, or really any money at all). 

Any package involving Matt Read or (more likely) Brayden Schenn is going to bring back the bizarro defenseman version of them, and they'll probably be either so overpaid that they cripple our cap (again), or so crappy that this miserable defense gets even worse. As sad as it would be to move the best winger on the team (who is also a fan favorite), that's the only way to quickly patch the roster with a top defenseman. 

The good news, as always when we're talking about this year's Flyers, is we don't need a patchwork fix. Take a deep breath, watch them at Ottawa tomorrow night, and try to imagine a team that has replaced Streit/Schultz/Gudas/Manning with Provorov/Sanheim/Morin/(Gudas or Manning, probably). 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On Adam Schefter And The Philly Media

Earlier this week, ESPN's Adam Schefter inadvertently made headlines for "breaking" the news that Chip Kelly and the Eagles and Philadelphia fans are unhappy and may not be together forever.

Here's the quote, as transcribed by The Big Lead: "The momentum and signs seem to be piling up against a Chip return to Philadelphia. I think both sides are sick of each other. I think the fans are tired of him, I think he’s tired of the situation there – just my read from afar."

The phrase at the end there is really key. He's not claiming to have any inside knowledge, but anyone with half a brain can see that the 4-6 Eagles (coming off a blown lead against Miami and a drubbing by Tampa) are not in a good spot. Naturally, a lot of the blame in being directed toward the General Manager/Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Supposed Football Genius Chip Kelly. 

This has been the topic on conversation on Philadelphia's sports radio shows for what feels like months. There was talk about Texas firinig Charlie Strong in September/October and Chip's name was thrown around. Steve Sarkisian was fired from USC on October 12th, and Chip's name came up again. The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt on November 3rd, and again, Chip's name found its way into that discussion. 

Why is it just turning into a national story now after Schefter's interview on Sirius?

The Sirius NFL account has 76.8 thousand, more than any of the Philly local shows. 

97.5 The Fanatic's main account has 44.8 thousand followers. The morning show (with Anthony Gargano) account has 21.8 thousand. The midday show has 4.5 thousand. Mike Missanelli's personal account has 78.9 thousand. 

94.1 WIP's main account has 59.6 thousand followers. The morning show (with Angelo Cataldi) account has 29.9 thousand. The (insufferable) Josh Innes Show account has 21.4 thousand, and Innes' personal account has 27.9 thousand.  

Adam Schefter has 4.38 million Twitter followers. In terms of people in the American sports world (not leagues or teams or networks), he's behind LeBron James (25.3), Kevin Durant (12.3), and then my list got cut off and I don't want to pay. But Schefty is up there with the big names in the industry. 

And so people pay attention to him saying "Hey maybe this isn't working out and Chip will leave to take one of the college jobs" and everyone FREAKS the fuck out like it's a confirmed story. 


The 97.5 morning show "Bitch & Complain Line" is literally named after Chip Kelly (and has been for more than a month). Mike Miss' Sound Off mailbox is always full of guys complaining about every facet of Chip Kelly and demanding that he goes back to college. Eagles Twitter, every Sunday all the way back to the opening night loss to Atlanta, is nonstop bitching about what Chip's done to the beloved birds. 

The team stinks on the field. The locker room is a mess. The media hates the head coach. The fans are sick of it all. 

But Adam Schefter acknowledging all of that on a national radio show is a story? He himself comes onto the 97.5 morning show every Wednesday (after he drops his daughter off at the school bus) and talks about the Eagles and Chip and gets peppered with questions about Chip leaving or getting fired. 

Schefter was echoing the sentiments of the Philly media (who echo the sentiments of Philly fans). Maybe it's news to the outside world that Chip may be run out of town after this year, but everybody needs to just chill. Schefter wasn't breaking any news to us, but talking on a national show about what he's heard from us, with the limited contact that he has with the Philadelphia market.