Friday, January 29, 2016


If you accidentally smashed your phone on the ground on Wednesday and didn't have the ability to check Twitter, then the title of this post will make no sense to you. Get off of this web page, go do some research, and come back when you know what's going on.

Welcome back.

Now that you know that Kanye likes things inside of his butt, I have some great news for you: #KanyeAnalPlaylist is trending on Twitter, and it is the greatest. I think I could spend all day refreshing that page, and honestly I might do that because it's Friday and my job stinks worse than Kim Kardashian's fingers.

I thought it would be fun to go through some of Kanye's most popular songs to see if he's been giving us hints of his tendency to play in the ass all along.

Stronger (2007) - 8 Weeks On The Billboard Hot 100, Peaked at #1

"Man I've been waiting all night now" could be talking about fingers in butts, but it's really vague unless you know that he's real anxious about his butt stuff.

And I guess "So go ahead, go nuts, go apeshit" might be a loosely-hidden instruction for a really aggressive session.

Overall, I'd rate Stronger a reasonable two fingers in the butt out of five.

Gold Digger (2005) - 17 Weeks On The Hot 100, Peaked at #1

I'm going to defer to my Twitter friend Jordie:

Five fingers in the butt out of five. Perfect tweet.


Heartless (2009) - 14 Weeks On The Hot 100, Peaked at #2

I kind of want to give Heartless five fingers in the butt right off the bat because it's Kanye's only song to ever peak at number two. 

The lyrics of the actual song read like a letter from Kanye to Amber Rose after she ruined him on Twitter:

"How could you be so heartless? I mean, after all the things that we been through. I mean, after all the things we got into. Oh, how could you be so heartless?"

Overall, I'm disappointed about the lack of anal references in the song. Just one lone finger in the butt. 

Love Lockdown (2008) - 2 Weeks On The Hot 100, Peaked at #3

"So I keep it low, keep a secret code, so everybody else don't have to know"

That's right, Ye. Just bury it and deny it. Everyone will forget about this soon enough. 

Honestly, I would much rather prefer him to come right out, be proud, and join the #ButtStuff2016 movement. One finger in the butt for being too old-fashioned.

(Quick interlude: I couldn't really find any rear penetration-themed lyrics in Good Life, All Falls Down, Through The Wire , or All Of The Lights, but holy shit Old Kanye was the best. I also refuse to even consider Jesus Walks lyrics for the purpose of this post.)

Clique (2012) - 11 Weeks On The Hot 100, Peaked at #15

"What niggas did in Paris got 'em hanging off the Eiffel" is perplexing because "hanging off the Eiffel" is a little bit of an ambiguous phrase. I have no idea what it means, or what people were doing after they saw what Kanye did. But I think we all know what happened in Paris.

"Now I'm looking at a crib right next to where TC live - that's Tom Cruise" - Uh oh, things are going downhill fast. One weekend in France and Kanye became a full-fledged butt orgy guy.

Three fingers in the butt for the clique.

Runaway (2010) - 1 Week On The Hot 100, Peaked at #12

"Let's have a toast for the assholes"

I think that's something we can all agree on. Five fingers in the butt.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How Are The Caps Better Than The Flyers?

If you are a member of hockey Twitter, you will have noticed by now that there is a huge chasm between old-school hockey beat writers and modern/advanced/millennial bloggers. Several things play into the disparity, and a lot of them are similar to why slavery lasted for so long.

I tend to fall more in line with writers that utilize advanced stats, and those writers tend to not be newspaper beat writers. I think they give themselves too much credit for writing bi-weekly "Former Flyer Returns To Philly" columns and regurgitating news that the team delivers directly to them. Personally, I'd much rather read literally anything that Charlie O'Connor has ever written.

That said, I'm a big hypocritical in that I follow most of the beat writers on Twitter anyway. And I saw this tweet from Sam Carchidi today and it got my brain-wheels spinning:
Let's go top-to-bottom and see how big the gap really is.

Top Three Forwards 

I'm not going to pretend to be able to judge actual talent, so I'll defer to Dave Hakstol and Barry Trotz and just base this on average time on ice per game.

Washington: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie
Philadelphia: Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier

This is closer than it would be if Evgeny Kuznetsov killed penalties. I'm going to admit, begrudgingly, that Washington gets the slight edge here regardless because Ovi and Backstom are so dominant. But G and Jake aren't far behind, and if you wouldn't take Coots over Oshie then you are an idiot.

Top Two Defensemen

Again, I'm basing this on average time on ice and not on my personal feelings about the players.

Washington: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen
Philadelphia: Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas

Again, slight edge to Washington. This one's not quite as close as the previous category, but MDZ and Gudas are paid like a second- or third-pairing. Carlson and Niskanen combined cost more than $10 million. So, yeah, on the ice I'd probably rather have them, but there is a case to be made for the more affordable option. (That's 100% me being a homer.)


Washington: Braden Holtby
Philadelphia: Steve Mason, Michael Neuvirth

Tough to argue against the Vezina frontrunner, especially with Mason's health currently being a question mark.

The Rest Of The Defensemen

Washington: Karl Alzner, Brooks Orpik, Nate Schmidt, Dmitriy Orlov, Taylor Chorney
Philadelphia: Mark Streit, Evgeny Medvedev, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning

Am I crazy for thinking that group of Flyers d-men can combine into above-average second and third pairings? If you're Washington, are you looking to make a play for either Streit or Medvedev to bolster the blueline?  Please?

Middle Six-ish Forwards

Washington: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Mike Richards, Tom Wilson, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Laich

Philadelphia: Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Michael Raffl, Chris Vandevelde, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan White, Sam Gagner, Scott Laughton, RJ Umberger

Kuznetsov alone means it's almost impossible for a non-playoff team to compete with Washington's middle six, but outside of him I think the Flyers are pretty comparable. Some skilled players, some energy guys, and one plug that is actually more talented than people think (Wilson was the 16th overall pick in 2012; White is 4th among Flyer forwards in overall goals per 60). I'm going to call this a push.

So overall, yeah, I guess the Capitals' roster is more skilled than the Flyers. But the talent gap is minimal. Philly should be able to ice four lines and three pairings that can compete with Washington; I think it's fair to argue that's exactly what happened last night.

However, the 24-point separation in the standings is a product of inconsistency. The Caps, it seems, always play almost as well as they possibly can. The Flyers... not so much.

The Flyers Are Going Into The All-Star Break

As the Flyers ride off into the sunset/All-Star break fresh off a thrilling win over the NHL-leading Capitals, it's a good time to look back at the first 47 games of the season and take inventory.

Division Standings

The Flyers are in 7th place in the 8-team Metropolitan Division with 50 points. They're chasing Carolina (54 points), New Jersey/Pittsburgh (55), the New York teams (56/59), and Washington (74).

There are, of course, a lot of teams to climb in the division. Carolina and New Jersey are generally thought to be in "rebuilding" mode, so maybe they could tank down out of our way. Nobody is going to catch Washington. The Rangers and Penguins are too old and overpaid to not give everything they can to compete for a Cup this year. And the Islanders have established themselves as one of the top teams in the East.

So, finishing high enough in the division to make the playoffs is almost certainly out of the question. How else can we maybe sneak in?

Wild Card Standings

As it stands now, Boston (57 points) and Pittsburgh hold the Wild Card bids to the postseason. New Jersey, Carolina, Montreal (52), Ottawa (52), and Philadelphia are all reasonable contenders for those spots, and it will be interesting to see who's buying and who's selling at the trade deadline.

Wild Card Part II: Buyers & Sellers

Carolina and New Jersey are both projected to have more than $8 million in cap room at the end of the season, and that's before we factor in what the 'Canes might do with the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner. If you're a fan of those two, are you rooting for them to bottom out and target Matthews/Tkachuk/Chychrun/Nylander/Puljujarvi/Laine? If you get a ready-for-the-NHL rookie and throw some money at a couple free agents, you could maybe compete next year.

One major note I want to make here: I am so glad that I am a Flyers fan and not a Hurricanes or Devils fan. Those rosters... woof.

Boston and Philly are in situations similar to Jersey and Carolina, though with much less cap room and much more demanding fans. Both teams have their core group of forwards locked down with minor exceptions (Marchand/Eriksson for the Bruins, Schenn/Raffl for the Flyers) and they have some work to do on figuring out their defense. Time will tell if these two are buying or selling.

Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Ottawa all planned on competing this year and that doesn't figure to change as the year goes on. I think you can mark each of these three as probably buyers in February.

The Sabres, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jackets are not going to compete this year and will likely also be selling off current assets for future assets.

Out West, the Jets and Flames will probably look to move some older pieces to build around younger cores. The Canucks probably have to go down with their ship with the Sedin twins. And I have absolutely no idea what's going on in Edmonton. Rough time to be a hockey fan from Western Canada.

Rough time to be a hockey fan from Canada in general, I guess.

Monday, January 25, 2016

NHL Players Are Supremely Underpaid

One of the larger off-ice stories in the NHL this weekend was the report that Tampa Bay offered Steven Stamkos an extension with a cap hit of $8.5 million per year. To be fair, it's probably their opening offer and I would think they know they have to pay him more.

But still, $8.5 million is peanuts in professional sports. It's what Eagles tight end Zach Ertz just signed for. He's a solid contributor, sure, but Stamkos is one of the ten best hockey players on the planet.

This got me thinking about salary discrepancy between the major American sports, let's take a look at some notable cap hits:

MLB Starting Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw, $34.6 million
Zack Greinke, $34.0
David Price, $30.0
Justin Verlander, $28.0
Felix Hernandez, $25.9
CC Sabathia, $25.0
Jon Lester, $25.0
Cole Hamels, $23.5

MLB Position Players

Miguel Cabrera, $28.0 million
Yoenis Cespedes, $27.5
Albert Pujols, $25.0
Ryan Howard, $25.0 (hang on I'm going to go pour myself a tall glass of bleach)
Prince Fielder, $24.0
Robinson Cano, $24.0
Mark Teixeira, $23.1
Joe Mauer, $23.0

NFL Quarterbacks

Drew Brees, $30.0 million
Joe Flacco, $28.6
Eli Manning, $24.2
Ben Roethlisberger, $24.0
Matt Ryan, $23.8
Matt Stafford, $22.5
Peyton Manning, $21.5
Phil Rivers, $21.0
Tony Romo, $20.8
Cam Newton, $19.5

NFL Position Players

Ndamukong Suh, $28.6 million
Calvin Johnson, $24.0
Mario Williams, $19.9
Justin Houston, $19.1
Darrelle Revis, $17.0
Julio Jones, $15.9
Larry Fitzgerald, $15.9
Calais Cambell, $15.3
Demaryius Thomas, $15.2

NBA Players

Kobe Bryant, $25.0 million
Joe Johnson, $24.9
LeBron James, $23.0
Carmelo Anthony, $22.9
Dwight Howard, $22.4
Chris Bosh, $22.2
Chris Paul, $21.5
Kevin Durant, $21.2
Derrick Rose, $20.1
Dwyane Wade, $20.0
Brook Lopez, $19.7

Every single one of the players on this list makes considerably more than any player in the NHL. That makes sense - football, baseball, and basketball are all more popular than hockey and the total revenue will reflect that popularity. Television deals, especially, create this disparity.

But let's take another angle and find some comparables for the highest-paid NHL players:

Jonathan Toews & Patrick Kane, $10.5 million each

The richest men in hockey (both in terms of contract dollars and trophy case prestige) earn Julius Peppers money. They earn slightly more than linemen Cameron Heyward, Ryan Kalil, and Nate Solder. They're also paid just a bit more than NBA role players Wilson Chandler and Monta Ellis.

I was scared to check the MLB list here because baseball players are so overpaid. For $21 million annually, you could either have Toews and Kane... or Ben Zobrist and Kendrys Morales.

Anze Kopitar's new extention, $10.0 million
Alexander Ovechkin, $9.5 million
Evgeni Malkin, $9.5 million
PK Subban, $9.0 million

The $9-10 million range is where you find four of the six highest-paid players in hockey. Stamkos might join this group to make it five out of seven, but I'd bet he surpasses the two Blackhawks.

In other sports, you're lucky if you can get a solid role player for this kind of money. Receivers like Victor Cruz, Brandon Marshall, DeSean Jackson, and Randall Cobb are all in this range. Some notable defensive footballers here are Lavonte David, Aqib Talib, Cameron Wake, and Byron Maxwell (this is a really rough post overall for Philly fans, need more bleach).

In the NBA, this range is split between old guys who are banking a bunch of money in the twilight of their careers (Zach Randolph, Anderson Varejao, Jeff Green) and guys who are in their prime (Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan, Rajon Rondo).

There are some nice value contracts in the MLB in this range. Primarily, that group is starting pitchers: Chris Sale ($9.2 million), Madison Bumgarner ($10.0), Jeff Samarzdija ($9.0), Edinson Volquez ($9.5).

Sidney Crosby, $8.7 million
Henrik Lundqvist, $8.5 million

Unquestionably among the NHL's elite, you could even argue that Sid and Hank are the best at their position in the league. For the price of them you could have Nick Foles, Jason Witten, Donte Whitner, or Jordy Nelson. If you look to the NBA, instead of a franchise cornerstone you get Tiago Splitter, Brandon Jennings, or Trevor Ariza.

To be fair, there are a pair of cornerstone NBA guys in this range. But they are Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, who are as old as Topher Grace and the actress who plays the Red Woman in Game of Thrones. Dirk and KG are certainly over the hill, so I guess it makes sense that they're in the same group as Crosby and Lundqvist.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is also in this price range. He's also over the hill and I'm going to need to refill my mason jar of bleach again.

Daniel & Henrik Sedin, $7.0 million each

The Sedin twins' cap hit is matched exactly by linemen Logan Mankins, Michael Bennett, and Desmond Bryant; point guards Rodney Stuckey and Cory Joseph; and infielders Mike Napoli and Yunel Escobar.

It's easy to argue that the Sedins are overpaid (and even easier to argue that they're super fucking weird), but they've been among the NHL's elite for like a decade. Those other guys - not so much.

Tyler Seguin, $5.8 million

Perhaps the best value in the NHL, Seguin's a superstar in Dallas. The best comparable in the NFL is Jameis Winston's rookie contract. To reiterate: a player that had never played a second of professional football signed a contract that paid him as well as one of the most electric young hockey players in the world. What a time to play a sport other than hockey.

The NBA comparable might be even funnier. It's Kyle Korver.

RJ Umberger $4.6 million (I have to start going to a new CVS because I bought out all of the bleach from the one by my house)

At this point in the other pro sports leagues, you're looking at (1) guys you've only vaguely heard of and (2) rookie contracts. Some of my favorite football players (aka the ones I've heard of before) are Rob Ninkovich, Paul Posluszny, and Michael Oher.

The Umberger cap figure is also a great microcosm of the Philadelphia sports scene. As his contract dwindles to its bitter end and moves the Flyers closer to having cap flexibility and competing, he's earning as much as two youngsters that share his building: Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid.

Have you guys tried the new Clorox Fresh Meadow Scented Bleach? It really tastes good and makes me forget about how much it sucks to live in Philly.

Sean Couturier's extension, $4.3 million

Happiness! Young talent locked up long term! Hope! We have some!

The only players that can even hope to be in the conversation at this price range are Danny Amendola ($4.4 million), Steve Smith ($4.2), Matt Harvey ($4.3), and a big group of NBA rookie contracts.

That group of rookies - Lillard, Porzingis, Harrison Barnes, to name a few - will almost certainly be getting raises that put them among the group of NBA players at the beginning of this post. I'd guess that for the upcoming cap hits of Lillard/Porzingis/Barnes combined, you could afford to ice a full set of four forward lines of just Sean Couturier clones. I love you, Ron Hextall.

Shayne Gostisbehere, $0.9

Okay fine, this one is a rookie contract so it's kind of cheating.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Emergency Flyers Lineup Volume 8

Bad, baaad fucking news, boys. Sean Couturier is going to be too injured to play tonight in Pittsburgh. It's a mysterious lower body injury, and nobody really seems to have a read on what's wrong with him.

So fuck.

The Flyers announced the scratch after warmups this morning in Pittsburgh, and it seems like Flyers twitter is in absolute shambles right now. Coots generally is tasked with shutting down the Malkin line (and Giroux tends to play against the Crosby line), This gameplan, recently, has been almost unbeatable against Pittsburgh - the Flyers have won their last 64 matchups with the Penguins.

But tonight is going to be tough, and it's deeper than just "we can't stick Coots on Malkin." The game is in Pittsburgh, which means Penguins coach (Googles who that is) Mike Sullivan is going to have the ability to seek the matchups that he desires. So if he doesn't want Crosby/Malkin going against Giroux's line, he can yank them off and send them out against the Ryan White line or the RJ Umberger line.

(Puts gun in mouth)

We can fix this. We need to balance at least three lines so that we don't leave a crappy trio out there to get torched. If we happen to notice three guys are playing like crap, we'll sit them or heavily shelter them.

Necessity is the mother of invention, so to speak, so here is version 8 of the Flyers 2015-16 lineup card (the general theme of these lines is "let's throw some shit at the wall to see what might work"):

Laughton - Giroux - Vandevelde

Laughton's two shortcomings this season have been (1) lack of ice time/ability to get into a rhythm (2) issues in the defensive zone. So let's throw him with the captain to let him get some solid usage and put him with two of the better defensive forwards that we have.

If Laughton stinks again early, I'd LOVE to see a White-Giroux-VV line. I advocated for this months ago, and I don't think there's a better time for that trio than a game against Pittsburgh where we're scrambling. 25-28-76 is a phenomenal bunker/trenches type of line.

Voracek - Schenn - Read

Brayden hasn't really showed that he can center a line yet, but Voracek is talented enough that he carried the Bellemare/Vandevelde experiment to a respectable line. Mix in Read, who's stellar basically from end to end, and this is another line that can chew up minutes against the Penguins' big boys.

There's also quite a big of offensive skill here, so they could punish the Pens' bottom six if given the chance.

Simmonds - Bellemare - Raffl

This is a prototypical checking line, essentially just a pair of upgrades on the usual White-Bellemare-Vandevelde line. They should be solid in all three zones (maybe even a little devious in the attacking zone), and they're all big enough to carry their own defensively.

Umberger - Weal - White

And now it all goes to shit. Even if we shelter this line or swap White and Laughton, Weal is a total question mark. Umberger is a thumbs down emoji with the font size dragged all the way up as big as possible. Ideally they'd play 8-10 minutes, but Umberger was -2 (with two missed open goals) in under 6 minutes on Tuesday.

If the goal is to mitigate the damage, we need to split up the Giroux/Voracek/Simmonds line and the Raffl/Schenn pairing. It's nice to be top-heavy when you can play matchups and the team is at full strength, but we don't have either of those luxuries tonight.

It's going to be a rough ride, and we're going to find out a lot about how much fight this team has. I expect absolutely ferocious games from everyone, but especially Giroux, Del Zotto, and Brayden Schenn. I'm also going to be keeping an eye on Shayne Gostisbehere, because this feels like a milestone game for him (his first against Pittsburgh) and I'm excited to see how he handles it.

(Update: The Flyers have recalled Sam Gagner! Here comes the hungry cavalry! I could see him being slotted in for Read with Voracek/Schenn (bumping read down to Umberger's spot) or just swapping Gagner in directly for Umberger. If Gagner goes to that fourth line, I'd bump White up to Giroux's line to leave us with Laughton-Weal-Gagner as the sheltered line.)

Follow along on twitter, I'll be going back and forth between #coldones and chugging bleach. Let's go Flyers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Let's Find Evgeny Medvedev A New Home, Part 2

Last night's performance was a rough one for the Flyers. Everyone stinks except Gostisbehere and there is no hope in the world and so on. It was, however, a decent night for Evgeny Medvedev; he contributed pretty significantly on offensive and defense:
It's time to revisit the idea of trading Evgeny Medvedev before this season's deadline. I initially wrote about this nearly a month ago as a remedy for the crowded blueline. Obviously, with Luke Schenn now playing for the Kings, the logjam is no longer an issue. But allow me to overreact to one bad game:

The Flyers aren't going to do anything this year. I've been optimistic basically all year, and I still think they are a solid, middle-of-the-pack team in the East. So I have a few bullets to go through:
  • A middle-of-the-pack team does not need a 33 year old defenseman for the future
  • Medvedev's 1-year contract means he's going to need more money (and more years) this summer
  • Del Zotto and Gostisbehere will definitely be back next season
  • Schultz, Gudas, and Manning will likely be back as well
  • Mark Streit is a question mark, but I can't imagine him netting enough assets to justify moving him
  • That's six defensemen returning to clog up the pipeline for Ivan Provorov, and we don't need more bodies in his way
So, ipso facto, we should trade Medvedev at the deadline to obtain an asset or two for the future. I get the sense that this was Hexy's plan all along; if Medvedev impressed, he's worth a moderate hall at the deadline. If he was a bust, then he'd be gone after one year anyway. 

On a much more positive note, trading Meddy to a legitimate contender would also allow him to really experience playing in the NHL. We all know the playoffs are a different animal altogether and the chance to really fight for a Stanley Cup would be a great way to end his rookie season in North America. 

As blasphemous as it might sound, in my heart I hope we cut a deal with the Capitals. Medvedev getting to experience that run with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and two other less-known Russians would be incredible to follow. I went over that in my last post (link above). 

Now, after that thousand word intro, I want to take a look at what we could actually fetch from Washington for Meddy. I'm using SB Nation/Jasper's Rink to check out our options. Here are some limitations:
  • I'm using the JR Top 25 Under 25 list to see how they evaluate their prospects. It's not perfect, but it limits the pool to younger guys and the parallel list on BroadStreetHockey was solid
  • Andre Burakovsky (#1 in their Top 25 Under 25) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (#2) are almost certainly off-limits
  • Forward prospects, especially wingers, would be ideal
  • But some additional depth at the blueline wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing
  • Age matters. An 18 year old is a full decade behind the Giroux/Voracek core, whereas a 22-25 year old should be ready to jump in and contribute immediately
Jakub Vrana, Center/Winger, Drafted 13th in 2014, 19 years old

The young Czech is cut from the Travis Konecny mold, in that he is small (5'11") but has shown solid puck possession skills. The JR outlook for this year sounds like he's good enough to play in the NHL but there isn't a spot for him quite yet. Well, my friend, we have plenty of spots for you in Philly, and one of those might even be on the opposite wing of the second-best Czech player in the NHL. 

Madison Bowey, Defenseman, Drafted 53rd in 2013, 20 years old

My favorite part of Bowey is the fact that he captained his junior team (Kelowna) to a WHL Champsionship. Not to bring up Konecny again, but I really believe that leadership in juniors is a great trait for a young player. We don't need a kid who can't even drink yet to lead the team, but it shows a maturity off the ice that is always welcome. 

On the ice, Bowey was a point-per-game player as a defensemen when he won that WHL trophy, and he's a right-handed shot. Those are a huge need for the Flyers going forward, as Radko Gudas is currently the only righty on the roster. 

Nate Schmidt, Defenseman, Undrafted in 2012, 24 years old

The exact quote from JR: "Schmidt's a good skater and a smart player, and those attributes set his floor pretty high." There is a lot to be gained from a defenseman that won't wow you like Ghost or Provy but earns a modest amount of money to contribute.

Now, if Schmidt was the entire haul for Medvedev, I'd riot. But I love the idea of him as a throw-in player, like Gudas last season. Schmidt's on the books at $750k this year and $875k next year, and then he's a restricted free agent. That's a dream contract for the Flyers; if he can chip in like an upgraded Brandon Manning for a couple years, that gives the prospects time to develop without handicapping the roster for years down the road.

Christian Djoos, Defenseman, Drafted 195th in 2012, 21 years old

Again right from JR: "Djoos' size will probably always be a concern, especially for a defenseman. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and passing ability." Hmmm... if only the Flyers had any sort of track record turning undersized, offensively talented defensemen into contributors. 

Tom Wilson, Winger, Drafted 16th in 2012, 21 years old

Tom Wilson is a sonofabitch, I know. But he's also just about to turn 22, and he seems like the kind of player that would benefit from a change of scenery. He's cast in the goon role in Washington, though he projected as a higher-end skill player coming out of juniors. 

I could see him fitting into the Flyers two ways: the easy comparison is Ryan White, who plays with very little skill but throws his weight around. The more challenging comparable (from a coaching standpoint) would be Wayne Simmonds. Big body? Check. Physical net-front presence with skill to create powerplay goals? I hope so. Ability to smash someone in the mouth if the throw a dirty hit? Hell yeah. 

And shit, now I've talked myself into trading for Tom Wilson. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Let's Nerd Out About The World Cup (Of Hockey)

As usual, I saw a tweet this morning that sent my brain into a frenzy.
The World Cup (Of Hockey) is like 8 months away, but that doesn't mean it's too soon to start drooling over the talent we're going to see.

Team Czech Republic

Allow Me To Be A Flyers Fan For A Second:
Jake Voracek - David Krejci - Jaromir Jagr
Jakub Kindl - Radko Gudas
Michal Neuvirth

No, seriously. Voracek is likely going to be one of the top-line wingers, and somehow Gudas is probably going to find himself being their top-pairing defenseman. Neuvirth, of course, has been stellar and will probably split time with Ondrej Pavelec and Petr Mrazek. But unless those three combine for a shutout every night, this Czech team won't be accomplishing much.

Team North America/God Damn Millennials

Top Six: Sean Couturier, Max Domi, Johnny Gaudreau, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Brandon Saad

Top Pair: Seth Jones, Aaron Ekblad

Potential #FutureFlyer That Might Make The Roster: Travis Konecny

I'd peg this team in the bottom tier with the Czech Republic and Finland just because their defense and goalies lack depth (wait let's change that to "severely lack depth").

But a line of Coots (big, physical, defensive) with Saad (as big and physical as you can get on this team) and a player like MacKinnon (not quite as big or physical, but he can burn) could cause havoc and compete with the big guns.

Speaking of those big guns, let's cut right to the biggest.

Team Canada

Pick Four Of These To Center Lines: Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn, Claude Giroux, Ryan Johansen, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares

..what the fuck man.

Fill The Rest Of That Group In On The Wings, Along With These Guys: Tyler Seguin, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, Taylor Hall, Logan Couture

And just in case scoring a million goals won't get it done every game, look who they have on defense.

Right Handed D-Men: Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, PK Subban, Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Burns

Left Handed D-Men: Duncan Keith, Mark Giordano, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jake Muzzin

Goalies: Carey Price, Braden Holtby

No big deal, just (1) the six best centers in the East (2) two of the three best centers in the West and (3) four of the six best defensemen in the world (4) two of the three best goalies in the world. Is that good?

Team USA

Centers: David Backes, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Kesler, Tyler Johnson, Derek Stepan

Top Six Wingers: Patrick Kane, Max Pacioretty, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise

Defensemen: Justin Faulk, John Carlson, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Suter, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, Dustin Byfuglien

Good Luck Trying To Be European Against These Five Guys: TJ Oshie, Backes, Kyle Okposo, Suter, Byfuglien

Team Sweden

Top Nine Centers: Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Sedin

Top Nine Wingers: Filip Forsberg, Gustav Nyquist, Daniel Sedin, Gabriel Landeskog, Alexander Steen, Loui Eriksson

Top Four Defensemen: Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Coots Is A Legit Selke Candidate This Season

We've known for a couple years now that Sean Couturier is an elite defensive center. He's been making headlines (and getting a lot of love recently) because he's played a stretch of great offensive hockey, but his bread and butter will always be shutting down the other team's best line.

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded annually to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. In the past 10 seasons, only 5 players have won the award: Rod Brind'Amour (2x), Pavel Datsyuk (3x), Ryan Kesler, Patrice Bergeron (3x including the last two), and Jonathan Toews (1x).

The Selke Award winner (or at least that caliber of player) always seems to be a crucial piece to a Stanley Cup team. Brindy led the Hurricanes to the Cup. Datsyuk did the same with his second Cup in Detroit. Kesler, a bit of an afterthought now, was a key piece of the Canucks team that won the Presidents' Trophy and went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Bergeron was key in the Bruins' Cup run of 2011. Toews, of course, needs no introduction here.

Yesterday, TSN's Scott Cullen published his mid-season NHL awards ballot. His Selke winner was Bergeron, who is without question a deserving candidate. His writeup also mentioned 8 other candidates, two of which were singled out as "runners-up": Carolina's Jordan Staal and Philadelphia's Sean Couturier.

My Twitter friend Charlie O'Connor beautifully broke down Couturier's Selke bid on BroadStreetHockey earlier this week (link here), so I won't rehash everything he wrote. But I want to break down some very (VERY) basic numbers to show why we should cherish Sean Couturier, and, also, additionally, Ron Hextall.

Here are Coots' comparables, in terms of age and salary. 
  • Patrice Bergeron (30 years old) - $6.875m cap hit for 7 more years
  • Jonathan Toews (27) - $10.5m for 8 more years
  • Pavel Datsyuk (37) - $7.5m for 2 more years
  • Ryan Kesler (31) - $5m cap hit this year, then $6.875 for 5 more years
  • Jordan Staal (27) - $6m for 8 more years
  • Anze Kopitar (28) - $6.8m cap hit this year, then a reported $10m for 8 more years
  • Nicklas Backstrom (28) - $6.7m for 5 more years
  • Mikko Koivu (32) - $6.75 for 3 more years
  • Frans Nielsen (31) - $2.75m, expiring after this season
  • Joe Thornton (36) - $6.75 for 2 more years
This season, Coots (23) is on board on his rookie/RFA contract, and his cap hit is a measly $1.75 million. And he's essentially in second place in the Selke race in the whole goddamn league. 

Next year is the first year of Couturier's 6 year, $26 million extension. It will keep him at a cap hit of $4.33 million until he is 29. At that point, he will be at the tail end of his prime, and he'll likely have either an A or a C on his sweater. 

When you look at Coots' comparables, his best/prime years should be his age 26-30 seasons, and his useful years may extend well beyond his prime. This is the first time I've really looked at his future/potential like this, and I have to say I expect HUGE things from Couturier in the next decade. 

Let's Take A Look At This Summer's NHL Free Agents

This topic of conversation came to mind for two reasons. First, Charlie and Pat (on the Boom Or Bust Podcast) discussed Ron Hextall's moves since becoming GM, and talked about how this will be the first summer in a long time that the Flyers will actually have some spending money. We could see Hextall bring some mid-level free agents to town to bolster the team's forward roster. Second, the Flyers play the Bruins tonight, and Bruins forward Loui Eriksson is one guy they could ultimately be targeting.

We will break the rest of the upcoming Unrestricted Free Agent class into groups, but first we need to clarify some ground rules:

  • We're looking at this from a Flyers perspective, so cap and roster constraints will come into play.
  • As long as Vinny actually retires, there shouldn't really be any monetary limits, but we don't want to commit a lot of money long-term. 
  • We seem to be set at the goalie position for the foreseeable future, and we are also probably content with our overall outlook on defense. So we're looking primarily at forwards. 
  • Let's plan on Ron Hextall re-signing Ryan White to provide some high-energy minutes on the fourth line. 
  • Let's also plan on Hextall re-signing Michael Raffl and Brayden Schenn to make our top nine forwards next year 28, 93, 17, 14, 24, 10, 12, Konecny, and a free agent or a minor league call-up (Laughton, Cousins, Leier, Straka, etc). 
  • That plan would mean we're seeking a third center in this exercise, but a winger would also work if Schenn or Konecny could carry their own line. 

Definitely Going To Be Too Expensive, But It's Fun To Think About

Steven Stamkos, Lightning
Anze Kopitar, Kings

I almost didn't include these two, because it's just going to be sad when they ultimately end up somewhere else. Could you imagine replacing the Laughton-Umberger-Read line with a Raffl-Kopitar-Simmonds checking line? Or giving Claude Giroux a pair of wingers (Voracek and Stamkos) that would make his line the best in NHL history?

Probably Going To Be Too Expensive, But Maybe For The Right Deal

Eric Staal, Hurricanes
Milan Lucic, Kings
David Backes, Blues
Andrew Ladd, Jets
Mikkel Boedker, Coyotes
Kyle Okposo, Islanders

Backes, especially, is an interesting short-term solution. He's made about $30 million in his career, and I wonder if he would even entertain the idea of not signing a long-term deal. He would immediately come in and center the third line (Raffl-Backes-Laughton?), and his defensive prowess would lift that line to respectability, ideally on a 1- or 2-year deal to allow Laughton a little more time to grow into the role.

Okposo is a more long-term solution, though he's probably a pipe dream. But he's young, talented, American, and we'd  be poaching him from a division rival. The Islanders have a little bit of cap space (helped by captain John Tavares' team-friendly deal), but they will likely have to pay Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas more, so they would have to commit all of their extra space to give Okposo a raise on his current $2.8 million salary. Could he be had for a Wayne Simmonds-style 4 year/$16 million deal? Probably not, which is why he's in this category and not the next one.

What About These Guys, You've Heard Of Them I Guess, Maybe

Sam Gagner, Phantoms
Kris Versteeg, Hurricanes
Loui Eriksson, Bruins
P.A. Parenteau, Maple Leafs
Matt Martin, Islanders

Gagner is, of course, mostly a joke because he hasn't found a role in this year's team yet. I hope they figure out what they want to do with him before the trade deadline, because he could fetch an asset instead of leaving for nothing this summer.

Martin, while he does play a nice physical game, figures to be re-signed by New York.

We will get a glimpse tonight of what Eriksson can do, but he may end up commanding more money than the Flyers are willing to pay him. He's 30, so he's also probably seeking a longer term than would make sense for us. Similarly, age/term could be too much of an issue for Parenteau.

Versteeg probably wants more money than Hextall's willing to give him after he turns 30, but there's no denying he is a capable contributor for at least a couple more seasons (this would ideally be similar to the plan I laid out for Backes). Versteeg was nominated for the Calder his rookie season, won two Stanley Cups in Chicago, and I had completely forgotten that he was a Flyer for like five months in 2011. His 27 points through 43 games this season would rank him second on the Flyers, behind only Giroux.

Four Guys In Their Late 20's Who Could Hit The Market And Be In Our Price Range

Michael Grabner, Maple Leafs
Jamie McGinn, Sabres
Riley Nash, Hurricanes
Dale Weise, Canadiens

When I say "in our price range" I really have no idea what I mean. Shit, Okposo could be in our price range at $5 million per season. I honestly don't have a clue. We're just dicking around here.

But this group of guys would be decidedly considered "role players" on a good NHL team. They made it through their rookie contracts and RFA years without impressing their teams enough to get locked down at big money.

Grabner scored 52 points in one season as an Islander, but has seen his number slip since then and figures to score around 20-30 points for the rest of his useful life.

Jamie McGinn is the older brother of Former Flyer Tye McGinn. Tye was, in my recollection, a bit of a savage. Jamie is slightly less of a savage, but his numbers have been very inconsistent and he's bounced between the NHL and AHL quite a few times. Despite the inconsistency (including scoring just 6 points in 19 games all last season with Colorado), McGinn figures to project in that 20-30 point class like Grabner.

Dale Weise is bald. He's going to turn 28 this summer. He's never made more than $1.025 million in an NHL season, and his career earnings are less than Cherry Hill Native Bobby Ryan's annual salary. Yes, somehow, I find myself thinking he's an attractive candidate for a short-term deal.

Riley Nash is an absolute A++ hockey name, and at age 26 he's the youngest player that figures to be available as an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Cornell product is in his third full season in the NHL (he split 2011-12 and 2012-13 between the NHL and AHL), and has totaled just 6 points this season. But he scored 24 and 25 points respectively in the past two seasons and obviously has some years left in his career to turn it around. Nash made $2.6 million on his rookie deal, $1.2 million combined on his first two-year UFA deal, and $1.2 million this year. Obviously, he was hoping for more impressive numbers to carry him to a larger long-term deal, but his poor first half could result in him being a bargain for someone this summer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

National Championship Betting Preview

Confession time: I haven't really been paying attention to college football since the regular season ended. The most I saw of 90% of bowl games was the ghost town stadiums on the Empty Seats twitter account.

We didn't even really look to bet on the semifinal games. I kind of paid attention to them on New Years Eve but I was more focused on drinking rum and cokes. It capped off a week of top-tier college football games that we didn't really pay attention to.

With hockey, college basketball, and pro football seasons in full swing, it's easy to get distracted and forget about college football. Even tonight, I'll probably be more focused on David Bowie than I am on Alabama-Clemson.

But it's the biggest football game of the season so far, and I think that's a good occasion to win some money.

Total Team Points: Alabama 29.5, Clemson 23

'Bama was only held under 29 points twice all year: at home against Arkansas (27) and Tennessee (19). It's important to note that they won both of those games, limiting Arkansas and Tennessee each to just 14 points.  Tennessee ranks 36th in the nation in yards per game against (362.0), and Arkansas is 58th (391.6). Clemson, though they have admittedly played an easier schedule than any SEC team, are 6th in the nation in YPG allowed (301.6).

Clemson has been held below 23 points just once all season, when they scored 20 at Louisville. They were held close against Notre Dame (24) and Florida State (23). Again, it's important to note that they won all three of these games despite being held well below their season average of 38.4 points. It would certainly be a feat for Alabama to hold them below 23 points, but the Tide have managed to do just that against Wisconsin, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, and Michigan State this season.

Point Spread: Alabama -7

That leads me to my first real bet of the night: Alabama -7 (or buy half a point to get it inside a touchdown if you prefer).

The Tide only lost one game all year, and won by less than a touchdown once. The narrow win was against Tennessee (discussed above), and it was a low-scoring affair that doesn't seem likely to happen again versus Clemson, who can certainly score with ease against most teams.

The Tide loss was a barn-burner against Ole Miss. The final score was 43-37 Ole Miss, and they were led by quarterback Chad Kelly's 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Had Alabama limited its turnovers (3 interceptions will kill you), the Tide could be seeking a perfect season. But they fell victim to a staunch Ole Miss defense and dug themselves a hole that proved too large to escape.

Here's why I don't expect Clemson to replicate that upset: that game was the pinnacle of Ole Miss' season. They finished 10-3 after their convincing bowl win over Oklahoma State. They finished 6-2 in the conference and came in second place in the best division in football. But their biggest accomplishment was knocking off the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. They played a perfect game and still only won by 6 points.

Clemson only played 3 ranked teams all season. They beat Notre Dame, Florida State, and North Carolina (all home games) by a combined 20 points. That may seem like a healthy margin, but those teams are decidedly in this season's second tier. Now, the Tigers have to travel 2,000 miles from home and play the best team (and the best coach) in college football for the past decade.

Jake Coker To Throw An Interception -130
Deshaun Watson To Throw An Interception -190
Parlay Both QB's To Throw At Least One Pick Each +170

There are some aspects of the loss to Ole Miss that figure to reappear in Arizona tonight: interceptions. Tide quarterback Jake Coker has not thrown one since November 14th, and has avoided turnovers in the four games down the stretch.

But Clemson's defense has tallied five picks in the past four games, bringing their total to 16 on the season. Alabama's defense has totaled 18 this year, and figures to snag at least one from Watson, who's thrown just about a pick per game all season.

Derrick Henry Rushing Yards Over/Under 145.5
Derrick Henry Total Touchdowns Over/Under 1.5

Yes, Clemson largely creamed Oklahoma in their semifinal game. They held Baker Mayfield to 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, but the biggest disparity in the game was in rushing offense. Clemson held Oklahoma to just 67 rushing yards. Total. As an entire team. And that includes a pair of 18 yard rushes each by Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook.

Clemson did well to hold Samaje Perine well under 100 yards (and to just one touchdown).  On the season, Perine totaled 1349 rushing yards, 6.0 yards per carry, and 16 touchdowns on the season. Obviously, Oklahoma's defense held him below his season average.

Henry, in a tougher conference defensively than Perine, totaled 2061 yards on 5.7 yards per carry and 25 touchdowns. Even if Clemson holds him down (proportionally) the same way they held Perine in check, he's still good for about a hundred yards and two touchdowns.

I'm inclined to bet both Overs here, because Henry has gone over in at least one of these categories in 12 of 14 games this year. The outliers were against ULM (only 13 carries in a blowout) and Arkansas (only 95 yards and 1 TD.. somehow that's his worst game of the season). There were four games this year where he ran for more than 145 yards and 2+ touchdowns: Wisconsin, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State. He was used lightly against Michigan State last week, but he was on pace to make it five enormous games in a row that he dominated. He's a big game performer, and I expect him to put on a show tonight.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oh Yeah There Was Another Trade Involving The Flyers Yesterday

As big as the Lecavalier/Schenn/Weal trade was, it wasn't the most preposterous trade involving the Flyers that took place yesterday. I'll admit, shedding the 2+ year/$10+ million contract seems a little insane - but take a look at this doozy:

That's the Ottawa 67s, a Canadian junior team, shipping their captain and best player (and future Flyer) Travis Konecny away for EIGHT draft picks.

The most ridiculous part of all is all of that may end up being a six month rental. If Konecny makes the Flyers next summer, he's not going to play for Sarnia anyway.

With Konecny (at least until he went to Finland for the World Juniors), the 67s had been in the middle of the OHL's East Divison, a significant step below the first place Kingston Frontenacs. They were just 2-8 in their past 10 games, and they didn't seem to be headed anywhere even with Konecny on the team.

So, with all eyes on the future, they dumped him.

Sarnia gave up a truckload of draft picks over the next few years to immediately bolster their lineup with Konecny (38 assists and 45 points in 29 games this season) and Sam Studnicka (16 goals and 26 points in 31 games). Both players also held leadership roles in Ottawa, Konecny the captain and Studnicka his alternate.

The Sting have just six more points than the 67s on the season, but they figure to finish in second place in the OHL's West Division with Konecny and Studnicka on board. Owner and Head Coach Derian Hatcher (Former Flyer Alert) is looking to lead the team to its first OHL championship.

So, naturally, like a completely normal and rational Flyers fan, I looked at who's on the Sting because we're going to be seeing their names a lot if they end up playing with Trav #2. (Trav #1, of course, is Travis Sanheim, who plays his junior hockey in Calgary.) Let's take a look at some of those guys (with quotes from Elite Prospects):

Wise Men Say Only Fools Rush In, But I Can't Help Falling In Love With You

Travis Konecny, Center/Winger, Drafted #24 by the Flyers in 2015

  • 7 goals, 38 assists, 45 points, +7 in 29 games with Ottawa
  • "Willing to do anything to win a game"
  • "Dynamic skating ability, incredible hockey sense, electrifying puckhandling skills, lighning release"
  • Swoon. Love you, Trav
Other Guys That Have Already Been Drafted

Pavel Zacha, Center/Winger, Drafted #6 by the Devils in 2015
  • 17 goals, 13 assists, 30 points, +6 in 23 games with Sarnia
  • "offensively dynamic center with size, speed, and skill"
  • "high-end offensive abilities, can be depended on to create and finish dangerous scoring chances"
  • Confession time: I wanted the Flyers to take him last summer, but they took Ivan Provorov with pick number 7, so I'd say it worked out for us

Josh Jacobs, Defenseman, Drafted #41 by the Devils in 2014
  • 1 goal, 13 assists, 14 points, +7 in 35 games with Sarnia
  • "smooth-skating two-way defenseman"
  • "has some mental lapses and his game has been hot or cold this season"
Nikita Korostelev, Winger, Drafted #185 by the Maple Leafs in 2015
  • 13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points, +2 in 25 games with Sarnia
  • "deft skater that plays a skill-based, puck-possession game"
  • "a very creative sniper that can set up, score, and play physical"
Matt Mistele, Winger, Drafted #180 by the Kings in 2014
  • 17 goals, 15 assists, 32 points, -10 in 19 games with Oshawa and 10 games with Sarnia
  • "opportunistic forward with excellent positioning"
  • "decent offensive skills and a solid shot"
Prospects For The Upcoming NHL Draft

Jordan Kyrou, Center/Winger, 2016 Draft Prospect

  • 7 goals, 20 assists, 27 points, +15 in 33 games with Sarnia
  • Figures to be a mid-to-late round selection, though I'm having a hard time finding any information about him so he may end up going undrafted
Jakob Chychrun, Defenseman, 2016 Draft Prospect
  • 5 goals, 19 assists, 24 points, +10 in 33 games with Sarnia
  • Ranked in the top 5 prospects for next summer's draft by Hockeyprospect, ISS, and McKeen's
  • "the best defenseman of the 2016 draft class" according to THN
  • He's in the range of guys that could end up being drafted by the Flyers
  • His dad (Jeff) was drafted by the Flyers in 1984, and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1992 after he stabbed the city of Philadelphia in the back
Older Guys (By Junior Hockey Standards) That Were Not Drafted By NHL Teams

Sam Studnicka, Center, Undrafted
  • 16 goals, 10 assists, 26 points, +2 in 31 games with Ottawa
  • "energy guy"
  • Probably the oldest guy on the team, as he turns 21 a week from tomorrow
  • His younger brother, Jack, plays in Oshawa and is eligible for the 2017 draft
Jeff King, Defenseman, Undrafted
  • 4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points, +22 in 33 games with Sarnia
  • Turns 20 next month
Patrick White, Center, Undrafted
  • 8 goals, 8 assists, 16 points, +15 in 35 games with Sarnia
  • Also turns 20 next month
Hayden Hodgson, Winger, Undrafted
  • 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points, +1 in 35 games with Sarnia
  • Turns 20 in March
Troy LaJeunesse, Winger, Undrafted
  • 9 goals, 12 assists, 21 points, +18 in 33 games with Sarnia
  • Not quite as old as the rest of this group, as he will only be 19 by the time this season ends
Starting Five

I know it probably won't happen, because I'd expect DH to split up Konecny and Zacha, but how's this for a "crunch time/need a goal to tie or win/throw your best players on the ice" lineup?

Forwards: Konecny, Zacha, Korostelev 
Defensemen: Chychrun, Jacobs

J. Ross Robertson Cup, here we come!

Yesterday's Flyers-Kings Trade Was A Win For Everyone Involved

In case you were on vacation under a rock or your phone was broken yesterday, there were two huge trades in the NHL. The night ended with Columbus sending disgruntled center Ryan Johansen (bad attitude) to Nashville for Seth Jones (hockey's number one diversity man). Both players will turn over a new leaf - Johansen with his crappy attitude and Jones with the role of number one defenseman.

But in Philly, the biggest news of the day was the trade made between the Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings. The short version: Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to LA for prospect Jordan Weal and a third round pick. The long version: the Flyers will retain half of Lecavalier's and Schenn's salaries (Schenn expires after this year), and Lecavalier will agree to retire after this season and forfeit the remaining 2 years (and $9 million) on his contract.

Flyers twitter blew up with joy. We got rid of Vinny's contract. Holy shit.

Holy shit.

Ron Hextall actually did it.

It was a win for us in the short-term and long-term. But it was also a win for the Kings, and for each of the three players involved.

Philadelphia Flyers

The hope in Philly all season has been for Vinny to retire or agree to mutually terminate his contract. He still feels he can contribute, and was using his enormous contract as leverage to try to get on the ice in Philly. He left Hextall with three options: play him (quick note: he stunk when he played this year), buy him out (and be stuck with $2.25 million of dead cap money until 2020), or look to trade one of the worst contracts in the NHL.

Somehow, Ron did the damn thing. The one downside for the Flyers is they have to retain half of each player's salary. But if Vinny follows through this summer and retires, then there is no money on the books past this season (more on that part of it in the sections still to come).

The Luke Schenn side of the trade stings a little for me, as I'm sure it does for any Flyers fan with a brother. I loved watching Brayden and Luke play together. As dumb as it is, this interview made me start to tear up:
Luke was not a great fit for Coach Hakstol's system, and I believe (sticktap Sean Tierney) that he only had 1 pass leading to a shot attempt in his last 8 games. He clearly wasn't in the long-term plan, so give credit to Hextall for extracting assets and not holding onto him for too long.

The asset they extracted is 23 year old center Jordan Weal. His THN scouting report lists point production and play in his own end as his assets, and size as his flaw. Their bottom line on him is he's a depth forward with a little upside.

The Flyers turned a $4.5 million healthy scratch and an expiring defenseman that didn't fit their system into a prospect and a pick. That's a win (1/5).

Los Angeles Kings

On the other side of the table, it's hard to say the Kings got "fleeced" or even "taken advantage of". On the day when their goaltender and top defenseman were both named to John Scott's All-Star team, they added depth on defense and a little bit of potential on offense, without really giving up all that much.

Schenn will likely end up being their fourth or fifth best defenseman, which means he's going to be asked to (1) kill penalties (2) be big and physical (3) maybe contribute to the offense every now and then. Boom, done.

Lecavalier, on the other hand, is a question mark. He certainly has the size to fit with the Kings's style of play, and he has the experience and the pedigree to serve as a veteran leader. To his credit, he handled his disgruntling situation in Philly literally as well as he could have. He's a professional, and just wanted his chance. He'll get it, but we'll have to see who he spends his time on ice with, and how much time on ice he actually gets.

The Kings got both of these guys for a mid-round pick, a prospect that's too small to fit in with the team, and a total expense of around $4 million (none of which stays on the books past this year). That's a win (2/5).

Vincent Lecavalier

Tired of being the goat in Philly and sitting in the press box during games, Vinny finally decided to give in a little to get his old ass back on the ice. He was in a position to take a hit on his salary the next two years because he's already made upwards of $90 million in his career.

There were rumblings of a trade yesterday morning, but the only way it was ever going to work was if he agreed to retire after this year.

Vinny now has a chance to chase a cup with the Pacific-leading Kings, and there was a real outpouring of support from Flyers fans on Twitter wishing him luck. This saga could have ended very differently, but I get the sense that a big number of Flyers fan will (once again) be Kings fans in the spring.

Lecavalier has all the money in the world, and he gets to chase a second Stanley Cup with a team that (1) can contend and (2) has demonstrated that they want him. That's a win (3/5).

Jordan Weal

Weal's situation is strikingly similar to Lecavalier's, though it's a prospect compared to a potential Hall of Famer. He's been an elite AHL contributor the past few years, including leading the Kings' minor league affiliate to the Calder Cup and winning playoff MVP. But he can't seem to get on the ice for the big club this year.

In my eyes, it seems like Weal is too small to play the style of hockey LA wants to play. I wouldn't be surprised if, like Jonathan Drouin in Tampa, he asked to be traded. It's telling that we never heard any noise about any sort of request: First, it tells us that he's not as good as Drouin because he didn't feel like his talent could overcome the bad attitude label. Second, it tells us that he's not a dick, which is good.

It should. I'd love to see Hakstol use Weal to get Scott Laughton going. Both guys are nearing the end of their "prospect" phase, and both could benefit a lot financially by having some success in the second half of this season. Plus, don't they look like they could be the bad guys in any movie ever?

The bottom line is Weal needed a change of scenery. Ron Hextall said it best - "He’s a player that’s trying to prove he belongs in the NHL." He was having a hard time doing that on a team that didn't value his skill set, and he needed to get out.

He's going to get an extended tryout in Philly because he's not waiver-exempt - so if they try to send him to the AHL he could be claimed and they could lose him for nothing. Weal gets a chance to prove to everyone that he can play at the highest level in the sport, and he's now with a team that shuffles it lines around every two weeks. He should see time in the bottom-six but may end up spending time with the Flyers' core guys as well. That's a win (4/5).

Luke Schenn

I'm saving the hardest part for last. I'm going to miss Luke Schenn. By all accounts, he's a great person. He's just too big and slow for the style of hockey the Flyers want to play. So they turned him into assets, and that's good for the Philadelphia Flyers.

But it's also good for Big Schenn (or Fat Schenn, if you prefer), He's going to have less pressure on him in LA because he's going to have a legit top four above him. He can focus on doing what he's good at, and the team will appreciate his bruising style of play.

As it stands, the Flyers have a -22 goal differential and have five teams ahead of them in the Wild Card (not counting Toronto and Carolina, who have the same number of points as Philadelphia). They probably aren't going to make a run, and they obviously weren't planning on re-signing him. It would have been a waste for Luke to stick around.

The Kings, on the other hand, are ten points clear of everyone chasing them in the Pacific, and are almost a lock to play postseason hockey this year. Luke can chase a ring, and he (like Vinny) left on about as good terms as he possibly could have. That's a win (5/5).


The Flyers will play their first game without Luke and Vinny on the roster tonight in Minnesota. I expect Brayden Schenn to either score a hat trick and lead the team in hits or never score another goal again.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


I just went through the list of players that have been traded away from the Flyers. It was an impressive list that included a handful of players we know (van Riemsdyk, Sharp, Carter, Richards) and a bunch of players that were just draft picks when we traded them (Pavelski, Carlson, Martin).

Over the past ten years or so, we've missed out on a complete NHL roster full of talented players. In those situations, at least, we got something in return for them. Now I want to look at some other players we've missed out on by drafting poorly. We'll start with the 2005 draft, because we used our first round pick that year to draft a guy who scored 9 goals for the franchise and has totaled more than 1,000 career penalty minutes.

2005: Ottawa, Ontario

Who we drafted: Steve Downie. The draft, in retrospect, was peppered with players who are now big contributors to their teams. Paul Holmgren drafted the 5'11" winger, Downie. He was promptly suspended from his junior team for (not joking) cross-checking his teammate in the face because he wouldn't stand naked with the rest of the rookies in the team hazing ritual. Jesus Fucking Christ.

Who we could have drafted: James Neal, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ondrej Pavelec, Justin Abdelkader, Paul Statsny, and Mason Raymond were all taken in the second round. Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick, Cody Franson, and Ben Bishop were taken in the third round. Keith Yandle, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Anton Stralman were all taken later in the draft.

Who we should of drafted: Knowing our issues on defense the past few years, I'd go Letang. But Quick/Bishop are also acceptable, or really anybody that wasn't Steve Fucking Downie.

2006: Vancouver, British Columbia

Who we drafted: Claude Giroux

Nailed it.

2007: Columbus, Ohio

Who we drafted: James van Riemsdyk. Of course, the draft lottery fucked us out of Patrick Kane, and whoever we drafted was always going to be overshadowed by Kane's dominance. I have no problem with JvR. The whole situation is just sad for us.

Who we could have drafted: Jake Voracek, PK Subban, Jamie Benn, Logan Couture, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Max Pacioretty, Wayne Simmonds, Carl Hagelin

Who we should of drafted: Subban, obviously. But think about it like this: if Simmonds, who we all love, was taken 2nd overall behind Kane when we lost the lottery, would we still love him as much as we do?

2008: Ottawa, Ontario

Who we drafted: Luca Sbisa. Initially, the Flyers' actual pick was #27. Through a series of trades, they ended up with #19 (the NHL was more fun back then and trades were a thing that happened). After one year, Sbisa was sent to Anaheim with Joffrey Lupul in the Chris Pronger trade. (Editor's note: both Sbisa and Lupul made Team #ShouldOfKept. Pick #27 was used by Washington to draft John Carlson, who we also should of kept.)

Who we could have drafted: Carlson, Roman Josi, Jordan Eberle, Michael Del Zotto, Gustav Nyquist, Jake Allen, Braden Holtby

Who we should of drafted: It doesn't really matter because we shipped them out west for Pronger. I'm almost glad we didn't take Carlson or Josi or Holtby, because we'd all feel sad about it right now.

2009: Montreal, Quebec

Who we drafted: Nobody in the first two rounds, then goalie Adam Morrison and defenseman Simon Bertilsson both in the third round. I mention their positions because nobody has heard of either of them.

Who we could have drafted: It's obviously pretty slim pickings from the third round on, but we could have netted Cody Eakin, Casey Cizikas, Mike Hoffman, or John Buccigross' Favorite Winger Erik Haula.

Who we should of drafted: We ended up getting Brayden Schenn out of this draft, so we actually did alright.

2010: Los Angeles, California

Who we drafted: Nobody in the first two rounds, then forward Michael Chaput in the third round. In a league with a salary cap (and cheap deals for young players), you just can't skip four top-60 picks in two years.

Who we could have drafted: Again, picking in the third round means you have to hit the lottery to get anything more than a replacement-level player. Here we would have been lucky to scope out John Klingberg, Petr Mrazek, Brendan Gallagher, or Mark Stone.

Who we should of drafted: A new GM would have been the smart move.

2011: St. Paul, Minnesota

Who we drafted: Sean Couturier

Nailed it.

2012: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (boo)

Who we drafted: Scott Laughton. It's time to turn the page into guys who are still question marks. Laughton is still only 21, and despite the fact that he doesn't really contribute much it's hard to call him a bust. We can, however, scope out some people who've had a more immediate impact for their teams.

Who we could have drafted: Nobody much better than Laughton. Everyone taken after him seems to be in the same boat. It's guys you haven't heard of and names like Olli Maata, Joonas Korpisalo, Shayne Gostisbehere, Colton Parayko, and Erik Gustafsson. They contribute (maybe) a little bit to their NHL teams, but it's a recent development.

Who we should of drafted: Honestly, it looks like Laughton was the right move. Give it time.

2013: Newark, New Jersey (boo/yuck)

Who we drafted: Sam Morin.

Who we could have drafted: Max Domi, Andre Burakovsky, Marko Dano, Anthony Duclair.

Who we should of drafted: Like the previous year, I think we did alright. Obviously the Domi/Duclair duo is lighting it up in the desert, but the Flyers had a big need for defensemen and they addressed it by taking Gostisbehere, Morin, and Hagg in 2012 & 2013 (and then continued to address it for two more years).

2014: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (yo)

Who we drafted: Travis Sanheim. He's still in juniors, of course, and it looks like he might have some physical development to do in Lehigh Valley next year, but Sanheim's potential is exciting.

Who we could have drafted: Nick Schmaltz, Robby Fabbri, Kasperi Kapanen, David Pastrnak, John Quenneville, Alex Nedeldjkovic, Roland McKeown, Brayden Point, Linus Soderstrom, Gustav Forsling. A month ago I wouldn't have known any of these names besides Fabbri and Sami Kapanen's son, but they all featured pretty prominently at the World Juniors.

Who we should of drafted: Sanheim makes me a little nervous sometimes because he seems so small, but his skills tend to make up for that (at least now), and I trust Hextall to make sure he develops properly.

2015: Sunrise, Florida

Who we drafted: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. The best player on Russia's silver medal team, and the most underutilized player on Canada's sixth-place team (fire Dave Lowry into the sun).

Nailed it.


We fucked up in 2005, there's no denying that. We got fucked by lady luck in 2007. We adopted a strategy for 2008-2010 that focused more on trading for overpaid players, which was also probably a bad idea. Those things are all not good.

But we nailed our picks in 2006 and 2011. And we've added almost a dozen solid prospects since drafting Couturier. The future is bright in Philadelphia, so try not to think about the fact that we could be icing a top line of Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Max Domi, PK Subban, and Roman Josi.


It's cold outside. Trekking to your car sucks. Driving to work with a cold steering wheel sucks. Sitting in a cubicle all day sucks. Let's distract ourselves by expanding on a completely ridiculous Scott T tweet (you should be following him if you are a fan of any Philly sports team, especially the Flyers).
Let's look into who could make up that team, and really think about how much talent has passed through Philly over the past decade or so. A couple quick notes: I only went back to trades made in this century/millenium, and I'm considering the team I'd put together with the players in their current state (sorry, Eric Lindros and Brian Boucher).

Not On The Ice, But Always In Our Hearts

Head Coach: Kimmo Timonen (Blackhawks)

Assistant Coaches: Simon Gagne (Lightning), Joni Pitkanen (Oilers), Roman Cechmanek (Kings)

Broadcast Team: Jeremy Roenick (Kings) & Chris Therien (Stars)

To be honest, I'd watch Roenick and Therien host the NHL Tonight show 3 nights a week. Everytime I watch that show - it's a cool idea, they basically just talk about the hot topics and bounce around from game to game for live look-ins - I wish they had better hosts. I wish they had more Jeremy Roenick.

I wish the whole world had more Jeremy Roenick.


First Line: James van Riemsdyk (Maple Leafs), Mike Richards (Kings), Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks)

Second Line: Scott Hartnell (Blue Jackets), Jeff Carter (Blue Jackets/Kings); Joffrey Lupul (Ducks)

Third Line: Brandon Dubinsky (Coyotes/Rangers), Joe Pavelski (Sharks), Kris Versteeg (Blackhawks)

Fourth Line: Jordin Tootoo (Predators), Zac Rinaldo (Bruins), Matt Martin (Islanders)

Scratched: , Brian Bickell (Blackhawks), Max Talbot (Bruins), Scottie Upshall (Coyotes), Emerson Etem (Ducks), Steve Downie (Lightning), Tye McGinn (Sharks)

There are no salary cap issues in this scenario, and that's a Stanley Cup caliber team, no? Really solid down the middle. Really solid across the entire top nine, really. We #shouldofkept at least seven of those guys.

And that fourth line is making me drool - could you imagine all of those guys in orange and black? Nobody would ever want to play against that line and there would be 3+ fights every single game. If you want to put asses in the seats, you ice a line of Tootoo-Rinaldo-Matty Martin and let them all bash skulls.

Defensemen & Goalies

First Pairing: Braydon Coburn (Lightning) & John Carlson (Capitals)

Second Pairing: John Moore (Ducks) & Luca Sbisa (Ducks)

Third Pairing: Nicklas Grossman (Coyotes) & Dennis Seidenberg (Coyotes)

Scratched: Dan Hamhuis (Penguins)

Probably not quite as good as the forwards, but that's pretty common for NHL rosters. Coburn-Carlson would be a legitimate top pairing, and Moore-Sbisa is a solid young duo. It kind of goes to shit after that, but that's Coach Joni Pitkanen's problem.

"My bad, Braydon, sorry I messed everything up again"
Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky (Blue Jackets) & Ondrej Pavelec (Rangers/Thrashers)

Scratched: Karri Ramo (Lightning), Michael Leighton (Blue Jackets)

This is probably the only area where the actual Flyers would have an advantage. Bob and Pav (and Ramo) are solid, but Mason and Neuvirth have been impeccable almost all season.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Breaking: The NHL Changed The Format Of The All-Star Game

Huge news out of the NHL today, as the league responded to John Scott's captaincy by changing the format of the whole damn game. The plan was to have one team from each of the league's four divisions, with the captains selected by the fan vote.

Well, they threw a giant curveball and changed the four teams! They're sticking with six forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies for each, but it's no longer based on the divisions:

Patrick Kane's Team Is Now Team USA

Forwards: Kane, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Max Pacioretty, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel

Defensemen: Justin Faulk, Dustin Byfuglien, Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies: Cory Schneider, Jonathan Quick

Obviously, there is a full 23-man roster's worth of deserving USA guys, so feel free to disagree with some (or most) (or all) of these.

Alexander Ovechkin's Team Is Now Team Russia

Forwards: Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Artemi Panarin

Defensemen: Andrei Markov, Fedor Tyutin, Dmitri Kulikov

Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrei Vasilevski

In typical Russian fashion, this lineup is incredibly stacked with forwards and incredibly lacking with defensemen. But does that matter? Not really - it would just be nice to see one good Russian defensemen ever.

Jaromir Jagr's Team Is Now Team Old Man Strength

Forwards: Jagr, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Marian Hossa, Shane Doan, Alex Tanguay

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dan Boyle, Marek Zidlicky

Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist

These guys are all so old that they should have retired 2+ years ago, yet they continue to kick around the league and guide the stars of tomorrow from leadership positions in Arizona, Boston, Colorado, and New York.

John Scott's Team Is Now Team Beat You Up

Forwards: Scott, Tom Wilson, Wayne Simmonds, Antoine Roussel, Scott Hartnell, Matt Martin

Defensemen: Mark Borowiecki, Dylan McIlrath, Clayton Stoner

Goalies: Ron Hextall, Patrick Roy

I tried to make this team as good as possible while also making sure they could definitely beat up your dad. I also felt that it was in the team's best interest to use a pair of retired goalies instead of any of the pussies that currently play in the league.