Summer Fill: A Conversation About....The Flyers?
As part of a "Summer Fill" series to help with the slow news days in the off-season, all of the SBNation hockey blogs are going to be hitting each other up with a few questions about their teams to help fans from each side learn a bit more about their team.
Like all good summer camp activities, we're using the buddy system, and The Cannon's been buddied up with one of the biggest kids in the pool - Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey. Travis had a few questions about the Blue Jackets - go check out BSH to see what I had to say!
Meanwhile, here's a few questions I had for him about the Flyers - and his answers! - after the jump:
1) No, Seriously, Who -IS- your starting Goaltender? It seems like Philly's had a major revolving door in their net since the lockout. Nittymaki, Asham, Biron, Emery, Boucher, Leighton, you name it. With Boucher's performance in the postseason, do you see him getting a chance to really own the net, or will it be more uncertainty?
Actually, the revolving door hasn't been spinning since the lockout. It's been spinning since at least 1997, and in reality it's probably been going since about 1987. That was the end of Ron Hextall's first stint with the Flyers, the last time they actually had a legit, promising talent in net.
That said, the goalie is Michael Leighton for at least... uh, next season. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, that depends on who you ask. There are two camps of thought on this. One believes that Leighton really came into his own last year, with help from Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese, and that he's actually a good, late-blooming goalie who can be successful for several more years in this league. The other camp believes that you can't ignore a guy's whole career just because he had a nice stretch over the course of a few months of one season.
As for Boucher, he'll be lucky if he lasts the season as backup. He deserves better than that, but he's not going to get it. It's a shame. He got hurt at the wrong time in the playoffs last season and with several young goalies in the system and a shortage of spots, one of them is probably going to force Boucher off the roster.
2) If Pronger isn't ready to go to start the season, who steps up for the Flyers? It's tough to replace 25 minutes a night. Do you see Coburn or Meszaros getting some of those top pairing minutes?
At this point I'd say Coburn, although Meszaros is getting paid to take the minutes. Even without Pronger, the Flyers are in an okay position. That's not to say they wont miss Pronger because obviously they will, but if it's only for a few games, they'll be fine. Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle can step up a bit as well, and you can feasibly distribute those minutes around the those four guys until Pronger is ready.
3) How do Shelley, Zherdev, and Legein fit in? I have to play to my home crowd a bit here - Going by your self-made depth chart, it seems like you expect Nik Zherdev to step into your top 6, Jody Shelley to be a fourth line regular, and Legein to be a depth guy in Adirondack. Does that seem accurate to you? Do you expect any surprises? Where do you see Legein in a few years - is he ready for prime time, perhaps to eventually succeed Carcillo in the agitator role, or is he likely to stay in the AHL a bit longer?
I think most Flyers fans are hoping that Nik Zherdev can replace Simon Gagne's production. We hope that Peter Laviolette can be the coach that sets him straight and that he can finally fulfill all of his potential in orange and black. I believe it'll happen and I think his signing could be a real steal for the Flyers. He has a lot to prove, and there's no reason he can't score 30-plus goals if his head is on straight.
As for Shelley, he'll be a fourth liner. A lot of Flyers fans were pretty perturbed with his signing (mostly the money), but he's obviously a great guy and a solid teammate. He should fit in well when all is said and done -- and he's clearly an upgrade to Riley Cote.
Legein is pretty curious. He had an incredible year offensively in Adirondack last year -- without looking, I believe he was their leading scorer -- and it certainly seemed to most of us that he deserved a crack at the NHL over some of the other guys who got the call. I think he could break into the NHL this season, but I don't think it'll happen out of camp. He seems like a front runner to be an injury call-up, though. It's tough to judge how he'll ultimately turn out without seeing him play some time with the Flyers.
4) Speaking of Training Camp, do you see anyone currently on the Phantoms or coming out of college ranks with a chance to crack the lineup, or is it basically set? I see a lot of one-way deals and not that much cap space this year. Are the Flyers in a situation where new blood is likely to stay in the minors for the near future?
Seems that way. There will be some turn over on the roster next season -- thank you, seemingly inevitable cap issues -- but for now, it looks like the Flyers are all but set. Legein could be a guy who really impresses and makes the coaching staff think, and a lot of reports have suggested that Mike Testiwude could challenge for a roster spot in camp. Personally, I don't see that happening. I think the top 12 forwards are all but set. The defense is definitely set.
5) And Speaking Of Your Top Six... Claude Giroux seems to be one of the breakout success stories from the Flyers' last season. Where do you see him in the lineup? Could he possibly be moved to wing to fit into the top six? Or is he likely to be kept at center on the third or fouth line to provide a threat that opponents will have to keep an eye on?
It's an interesting question in camp. A recent report had G on Mike Richards' wing, with Dan Carcillo on the other wing. I wouldn't expect that line to necessarily stick, but Giroux could definitely stay on the wing. The Flyers are at least thinking about it as a possibility. The consensus among Flyers fans seems to be that his talents are being wasted on the third line and that he's also best suited as a center. The Flyers are overloaded at that position, though, and since Jeff Carter is basically terrible playing on the wing, someone else is going to have to make the switch.
6) Do you see Peter Laviolette changing the way the team plays this year? On the one hand, the mantra is "Don't mess with success." On the other, Laviolette is a guy who's never liked to see his teams play too far over the line. Do you see him keeping things on an even keel from last year, or trying to dial back some of the pure nastiness in favor of more skilled hockey aggression?
Laviolette actually did tone things down a bit last season. Carcillo was a lot more disciplined after the regime change (yeah, believe it) and on the whole, the dumb penalties were down across the board. The most exciting thing this season is that things aren't going to change all that much. It's a full season of Laviolette being able to instill his systems in the team, and it's a full training camp and a fresh slate for the team to build upon last year.
7) Dude, can I get some pretzels? A friend got me some street pretzels in Philly when I visited this summer, and I'm jonesing. I've tried making my own here, but the taste just isn't quite right. He says it's because of all the carbon monoxide they absorb on the carts. Theory? Or fact?
I think it's just in the dough. That's the secret in a Philly cheesesteak, too. Sure, you can slice some steak and melt some cheese anywhere, but can you duplicate the bread? Nah. Same goes for a Philly soft pretzel. We have a store around here called Philly Pretzel Factory and they have damn good soft pretzels, but I'm pretty sure their stores have carbon monoxide detectors.
I can neither confirm or deny that I bought two dozen pretzels from Philly Pretzel Factory on my way out of town in the aforementioned visit...