The full Philadelphia Flyers 2008-09 schedule will be announced tomorrow, but an official sneak preview to the upcoming season has been released on the Flyers’ website.
The release officially states that the Flyers will open their season on Oct. 11 at the Wachovia Center against Atlantic Division rival New York Rangers.
Starting this season, the NHL put in place a new scheduling system in which each team from the Eastern Conference will play every other team from the Western Conference at least once. Also, each Eastern Conference division will be matched up with a Western Conference division and each team will play three teams from the designated division.
The Atlantic Division will face the Pacific Division and the Flyers have been selected to face the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings twice, one at home and one away.
Tomorrow I will post the full schedule, when it is announced at noon.
The Philadelphia Flyers drafted defenseman Joni Pitkanen fourth overall in the 2002 NHL entry draft, with hopes that the gifted blueliner would reach his potential and become one of the best offensive-minded blueliners in the league. But what the Flyers soon learned about Joni, was that despite his high ceiling of potential, his head was never quite there.
Gator gone… no ill will.
Former Flyers’ captain Jason Smith, finalized a two-year deal with the Ottawa Senators worth $2.6 million per year. Smith was warrior for the Flyers in his lone year with the club, but appeared to run out of gas down the stretch, possibly due to devastating injuries to both his shoulders and elbow. Smith, along with Anton Volchenkov, gives Ottawa a nasty physical presence on the blueline, and will be a breath of fresh air in the leadership department after scandalous and immature acts self destructed the juggernaut Sens’ 2007-08 season.
Thor, we will miss you … but not that much.
Restricted free agent forward Patrick Thoresen declined an offer by the Flyers and opted to play in Europe for the 2008-09 season. The 24-year-old Norwegian will be most remembered for laying his body on the line to block a shot in the playoffs that shaterred his protective cup and severely bruised his testicle, almost forcing emergancy removal. In a gutsy move, Thor was back in the lineup just days later. The Flyers were quick to replace Thor by signing veteran tough guy Arron Asham to a multi-year deal.
Modry back to Europe.
Short lived Flyers’ defenseman Jaroslav Modry, has reportedly signed a deal with a Swedish tier 2 team and will likely remain in Europe for the final years of his hockey career. Modry will be remembered negatively for his time in Philly, mostly due to his being on the ice for ALL of the first 12 goals scored against the Flyers in the 2007-08 playoffs. Hearts did go out to the veteran when his father passed away during the start of the playoffs, but instead of leaving the team to mourn, he stayed to compete. His poor play led him to be a healthy scratch as the playoffs progressed, and he was able to be with his family.
Official camps starting NEXT Friday.
Next Friday at the Skatezone in Voorhees, New Jersey, the Flyers will be conducting their annual prospect conditioning camp. The players joining the team for camp will be all of the Flyers’ prospects not in the NHL and not from Russia. Some current Flyers may join the young group in their workouts, particularly ones returning from injury like Simon Gagne. Players to watch will be the newly drafted Luca Sbisa, burly defenseman Kevin Marshall, super thug Garrett Klotz, and my dark horse for success — defenseman Patrick Hersley.
The Philadelphia Flyers have extended General Manager Paul Holmgren’s contract through 2011-2012, and also acquired tough veteran winger Arron Asham.
Asham is a rough-and-tumble forward who doesn’t hesitate to drop the gloves and should be a perfect fit in Philadelphia. He doesn’t have much of a scoring touch, but is a veteran physical presence that could be useful on the depth lines, as he doesn’t make many mistakes.
However, Asham’s move into the lineup means either young forward Steve Downie will start the season in the AHL, or RFA Patrick Thoresen will not be retained. The latter is the more likely of the two scenarios, since Downie still has untapped potential and is already a fan favorite of Philly.
The Philadelphia Flyers made small, but necessary moves by signing depth center Glen Metropolit from the Boston Bruins and Ossi Vaananen from the Colorado Avalanche.
Metropolit is an upgrade over Jim Dowd as the fourth line center, but also has the offensive capability to fill in as the third line center as well, scoring 11 goals and 22 assists with the Bruins last season. He is excellent defensively and can play on the penalty kill efficiently.
Vaananen signed a one-year deal worth $1 million. He is a Finnish defender with little offensive skill but has an ability to make a good outlet pass and is a punishing hitter. Twenty-seven year old Vaananen is 6.04, 215lbs and depending on his training camp with the Flyers, could be the physical replacement for Jason Smith or become the seventh replacement defender. Vaananen played in the Swedish Elite League last season and was outstanding. If he can stay healthy it will be an excellent signing for the Flyers.
The Philadelphia Flyers made their first move in the free agency period by trading defenseman Dennis Gauthier and a second round pick in 2010 to the Los Angeles Kings, for ECHL forward Ned Lukacevic and defenseman Patrik Hersley.
Janne, we will miss ya.
Days after acquiring defenseman Janne Niskala from Nashville for forward Triston Grant and a seventh round pick in 2009, the 26 year old was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a sixth round choice in the 2009 draft. The trade could have something to do with the rumor that Niskala demanded a one-way contract or would head back to Finland to play, something the Flyers would be insane to provide. A one-way contract means the player remains in the NHL nomatter what, and can not be sent down to the minors.
One in, one out.
General Manager Paul Holmgren spent little time replacing Niskala by acquiring similar European defender Tim Ramholt from the Calgary Flames for forward Kyle Greentree. Twenty three year old Ramholt is 6.01, 194 lbs. and recorded four goals and 20 assists in 77 games for the Quad City Flames of the AHL in the 2007-08 season. Ramholt has standout speed and a budding aggressive game that led to him amassing 73 PIM in 77 games. He has puck handling potential but has showed little consistency, which may keep him as an AHL mainstay.
No bargaining chips to be found.
The Flyers acquired underperforming Washington Capitals’ defenseman Steve Eminger at the 2008 entry draft for the 27th overall selection. Eminger, a restricted free agent, was set to field offers from other teams if the Flyers did not sign him before the July 1 deadline. If Eminger was not signed by the Flyers, they would essentially have givin the Capitals a first-round pick for free, thus making the signing of Eminger almost mandatory and leaving the Flyers with little to no bargaining chips. Well, the Flyers finished the job by signing Eminger to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. To some 1.2 is a steep number for a a player yet to prove his NHL meddle, but because it is only a one-year deal, the Flyers could absorb their losses quite easily if Eminger doesn’t stack up.