The unthinkable has happened: Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded. My thoughts keep returning to the same point: Ed Snider has turned into Al Davis, the once great but now senile and meddling owner of the Oakland Raiders. It’s the only explanation.
Well, this was certainly an eventful day in Flyer nation. While they signed a quality goalie in Bryzgalov (albeit for nine years, about 5 too many for my taste) and cleared some cap space, they also traded two cornerstones of the recent success of the franchise in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
Personally, I am upset more about the loss of Richards for two reasons:
1) It’s very hard to trade your captain, especially a young one with a lot of potential.
2) My #18 Richards jersey is now a collector’s item.
So, this brings up the question, who will be offered the “C” next year? According to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com, it’s a no-brainer that it will be offered to Chris Pronger. AndDave definitely agrees with this statement, citing PuckGate of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals as a brilliant move by Pronger.
Pronger, Danny Briere, and Kimmo Timonen have all been captains in the recent past with other teams. And if you’re looking for a veteran captain presence for this team, then that’s probably where they are headed.
But this team is not being built around veterans. The unquestioned star during the all-too-short playoff run was James van Riemsdyk. Even during the Boston series, he was the best player on the ice. If you’re really trying to build for the future, you might want to think about offering him at least an “A” instead of just handing them to Briere and Timonen again.
The real point of all this? We shouldn’t be having this discussion. Mike Richards should never have been the one to go.
By all appearances, free agency will revert to pre-2010 rules, where 5th and 6th year players are eligible, flooding a thin and old market. Brian McIntyre has complied a list of previously tendered players who will now become free agents. While there’s a ton of players I’d love to see the Eagles sign that are on this list, it’s just not realistic that guys like DeAngelo Williams, Paul Posluszny, Sidney Rice or Eric Weddle will be an Eagle next year. You have to look at this list realistically. Most of these players will be re-signed by their teams, and the ones that aren’t will either be too high priced or will be gap fillers. It’s the latter that interest me. Next week I’ll look at players who were going to be free agents regardless of what rules may apply. Today, I’ll look at a few players who might fill some roles the Eagles have.
Back up QB: Tyler Thigpen
Assuming that Kevin Kolb is in fact traded, are you okay with Mike Kafka as the #2? I’m not, and I don’t think the Eagles will be either. After being drafted but then cut by Andy Reid’s old protege Brad Childress, Tyler Thigpen played well for an awful Chiefs team in 2008, with a respectable-for-a-backup line of 54.8 completion percentage, 18 TD and 12 INT. His only real target that year was Tony Gonzalez. Ignore the 1-10 record, Kansas City’s defense was horrible, 2nd worst in yards and 4th worst in points, sinking a ship with a mediocre offense. He then moved to Miami when they had a rash of injuries at QB and saw limited duty. Thigpen’s got the skill set to succeed as a back up in Andy Reid’s system. And with Michael Vick’s eternal fragility, he’ll see playing time. If you’re going to be a backup QB, the Eagles are a pretty attractive team: you’ll almost certainly get playing time, when you do you’ll have a bevy of weapons at your disposal and you’ll be in a system that you will do well in.
Backup TE: David Thomas, Jeff King, Dante Rosario.
Brent Celek could use a better backup. Clay Harbor and his 9 completed catches and 1 dropped TD do nothing for me. And is it me or did Andy Reid shown more creativity to his play designs last year? A second, respectable tight end would enable him to go with some 2 TE sets. Dave Thomas might be an option if he’s available. Considering they released Jeremy Shockey, I think New Orleans would like to have Thomas back. But if he’s available on the free agent market, the Eagles should at least kick the tires. King and Rosario are both scheduled to be free agents from Carolina, and likely both will be after the Panthers signed Shockey. Either one would be a depth fine addition as rotation guys who catch 20-30 passes a year, which is exactly the role they played in Carolina.
#2 CB: Eric Wright
Obviously Nnamdi Asomugha is the #1 target. But with seemingly every team after him, chances are he doesn’t land at the Linc. The Eagles are still going to need a plan B. Wright could be that guy. I’d rather have Jonathan Joseph or Antonio Cromartie, but I don’t see the Eagles willing to pay that kind of money for either of them. Star player no, but Wright’s a good corner lost on a bad team. At 5-11 he’d be the tallest CB on the Eagles (along with Dimitri Patterson), giving the secondary a slight height boost. Wright’s not a ball hawk, but he’s a physical CB with good athleticism. One of the big allures of having the excellent man-press Asomugha opposite zone ball hawking Asante Samuel is that it gives an offense two totally different CBs to worry about. Wright plays a similar style, physical at the line of scrimmage, which would enable the Eagles to have a more diverse toolbox to scheme with. If the bigger names can’t be had, I’d be perfectly fine with him in the Eagles secondary.
(Or, Hanukkah in July for Dave)
Man, I hope Mike Silver has some solid sources, because his latest column has got me feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve. According to Silver, the Eagles will be really aggressive in free agency, which obviously piques my interest. A source tells Silver “This is the year, we think we have a great shot to win it, and we’re loading up and going for it.” You had me at hello. The last time Andy Reid & company went balls out in free agency, they of course landed Terrell Owens and Javon Kearse and went to the Super Bowl. Neither did anything after that season except be a distraction, but in retrospect we shouldn’t have been surprised that a malcontent caused trouble and a guy who’s game relies entirely on athleticism fell apart as he aged and got injured. And anyways, man was that season awesome.
Jeffrey Lurie isn’t putting out any fires. “I know we’re going to be both aggressive and hopefully make the right decisions. It’s frustrating to be a team that’s poised to make some of the moves we want to make and not be able to. I think we’ll all be excited when the league year starts.” Don’t tease me Jeff.
But who is or will be out there? Silver drops three names:
It’s that time of the year, the off-season, where we crap on all the players for their faults and ignore their positives! I want to start with a guy on a lot of people’s minds, because the Flyers are going to need to move some salary if they can sign Ilya Bryzgalov, and a name that keeps coming up gets a bad rap…
The impossible has happened.
He’s already got the black, just get him some orange.
The Flyers have traded for a bonafide goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, one of two goalies the media and fans have speculated would be a target for the Flyers. I didn’t think they would actually go after Bryzgalov or Tomas Vokoun, so I’m pleasantly stunned that they’ve done this, and the price of a 3rd round pick plus a TBA conditional pick is acceptable (Matt Clackson was also in the deal, but he was only thrown in to clear a contract). But there is a lot of work to do before we see Bryzgalov in a Flyers jersey, because on July 1 he becomes a free agent, and there’s quite a bit of cap space to be moved to be able to sign him. I’m not confident that Paul Holmgren can get it done, or that if he does he’ll do it the best way.
The obvious solution would be to deal Matt Carle for whatever picks/prospects you can get. But Holmgren seems to love Carle, or at least Carle’s type of player–before him it was Randy Jones. Prior to the Bryzgalov trade, I was fully expecting Carle to be re-signed, much to the chagrin of fans. Now, I’m not so sure. However trading Carle and signing Bryzgalov would mean the Flyers likely start the season with four legit defensemen (Pronger, Timonen, Coburn, Meszaros) and two question marks, such as Syvret, which gives the team no breathing room for injuries. I can live with that. But can Holmgren?
Which is why I think we’ll see a forward get dealt instead. The Bryzgalov trade seals Ville Leino’s fate, which was hanging by a thread in the first place, in that he won’t be back. That’s fine, and with Leino walking away the Flyers are still deep up front. If not Carle, then a forward gets moved, and the candidates seem to be Kris Versteeg and Jeff Carter. Versteeg would be on his fourth team in 3 seasons if he’s dealt. Trading away Versteeg would mean Mike Richards once again has no legit wingmen (on the ice, off the ice that isn’t a problem for him) and the return would probably be less than the 1st and 3rd that was given up to acquire him. If it’s going to be a forward that is moved though, Versteeg should be the one to go.
And then there’s Carter. Trading Carter makes sense on a couple of levels. The first is that with Richards, Briere and Giroux, the team would still be well stocked at center, whereas if you trade Carle you’re left pretty thin on the blueline in depth. The other is that the Flyers are woefully lacking in propects and organizational depth. Carter of course will get the team the best return, and the return of picks and prospects he would command would be a huge boost to the farm system. But all that overlooks that Carter is an elite player and Bryzgalov is not. You don’t trade an elite player to make way for a non-elite player. Bryzgalov is a really good goalie, but he’s not worth Carter.
My complete lack of faith in Holmgren to properly address the issues plaguing his team has me feeling like Carter will be the one traded. I hope I’m wrong, because it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. And all of this is hinges on if Bryzgalov will even sign. He wanted a big pay day from Phoenix. Still, I’m thrilled that Holmgren has gone out and done this, although Ed Snider might be the one pulling the strings on this, which is just fine with me.
Wake me when Bryzgalov is under contract, I’ll try not to scream when I see the results.
Tonight is the MLB draft, and if you don’t watch I can’t blame you. It’s terrible. And because it’s so terrible, I love watching it (until Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals comes on that is). Here’s why…
Bud Selig is a horrible public speaker.
This can not be debated. Selig has no charisma whatsoever. The man simply can not pronounce “Los Angeles, ” he says “Los Angeleeze.” When announcing a pick he says the school and then the town and state. That’s great if it’s a kid from some prep school or private college that you’ve never heard off. But when it comes to colleges that have the city and state in the name, well then it’s just watchable. If someone is drafted from UNC-Chapel Hill, he says “from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.” Come on Bud, use some common sense. He speaks in flat voice and often pauses awkwardly. Just the guy you want to be the voice of one of your more high profile public events!
There’s no drama.
The obvious drawback to baseball’s draft is that at best only a handful of kids are known. College baseball is an afterthought to the sports world until the College World Series, which is after the draft. And HS baseball, save for the wunderkid, has no public interest. It doesn’t have part of the appeal of the draft in other sports, in that we get to see where these kids who we’ve been following through the season, through bowls, through the Final Four, through the Memorial Cup are going. We know the big names, we’ve followed their careers. Not with baseball. So you have a draft of nobodies, and to top it all off you can’t trade picks. Trading picks is entertaining. It gives us something to talk about, like when this year the Falcons dealt a whole bunch of picks to get Julio Jones. We can talk about that trade for years depending on how it pans out. Can’t do it with baseball. Can’t get the excitement or disappointment that the hardcore fan gets when their team trades up or down. MLB shouldn’t make trading picks possible because of this, it’s just an unfortunate side effect. And because you can’t trade picks, the time they take between picks is completely pointless. NFL, NHL, NBA teams, they take their time on their picks because they are taking or making calls, seeing if there is a good trade to be made. Since MLB teams can’t do that, there should be no reason why picks aren’t fast and furious. They used to be, which brings us to:
It’s just a bad TV product.
The draft used to be an afternoon conference call as recently as 2006, it was never an event. A team would say a name and then immediately the next team would. The NFL on the other hand, their draft was an event at least as far back as the 60’s, they had reporters in attendance and Pete Rozelle would announce the picks at a podium. There was already a location, already a forum where picks were physically announced. So the transition to television was fairly seamless. The transition to TV has been pretty rough for MLB. MLB Network does a nice job with what they have to work with, not blaming them. What they have to work with though, is not good. The interviews with newly drafted players are boring. I’m sure it’s exciting for the kid that the Angels just picked to get drafted, but if he gets to the big leagues, and if it’s with the Angels, the roster is going to look very different, so why ask him if he’s excited to play with Torii Hunter? I hope they ask whoever the Braves draft if he can’t wait to play with Chipper Jones. The answer of course would be “yes, I can wait, because he’ll be retired by the time I get there.” And to top it off, these kids, through no fault of their own, are generally pretty bad on camera. NFL and (most) NBA draftees just spent a college career getting interviewed all the time and having a support network at their school to deal with the media. They’re not all good either, but they’re experienced. That kid from some high school in the panhandle of Florida is as green as grass. And then of course there’s the rampant speculation that the analysts must do when talking about these kids who are years away from the majors. With the NFL and NBA, the draftees will step in right away, and a good number of NHL picks do so too, so talking about how a player’s skills, even if they’re raw, pertain to a system, or how the current coaching staff will develop them is perfectly fine. You can’t do that with MLB. None of these players will make an immediate impact in 2011, and the casual fan isn’t going to remember these guys a year from now.
And the cherry on top: it’s at 7pm, which is when baseball is played. Such as the Dodgers at the Phillies on ESPN.
But I’ll still watch, because we love train wreck television.