The thought of Chris Pronger in the Orange and Black is starting to warm in the minds of blue-thirsty Philadelphians, who are starting to believe that the 6’6 war machine may be that one missing piece.
“I’d like to think so,” said Pronger, when asked if he is that missing link between the Flyers and a Stanley Cup. “That’s one of the reasons I was brought to Anaheim and it worked out. I’m looking forward to it.”
With a no-trade clause, Pronger knew he could potentially be moved at the draft. And according to him, the Flyers were one of the top teams on his list.
“There was a limited number of suitors to begin with with the price teams had to play,” he told TSN. ” Philly was one of the teams on the short list that’s for sure.”
Pronger is a unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2009-10 season. General Manager Paul Holmgren has told the media he has planned a sit down with Pronger and his agent to work out an extension.
TSN is reporting that the Flyers have acquired 34-year old defenseman Chris Pronger from the Anaheim Ducks for forward Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and the 2009 and 2010 first-round picks, with a conditional future third-round selection. The Flyers have been on the hunt for the big-hitting veteran defenseman since Jay Bouwmeester fell just out of their reach.
Despite aging, Pronger is still a legitimate top defenseman in the NHL. He is big, mean and experienced. Just what the Flyers needed. Philly may have appeared to pay too much, but if General Manager can package Danny Briere or another big-money forward to get back into the first round, the Pronger deal will be much easier to swallow.
Pronger has one more year left on his contract a $6.25 million. The Flyers relieved a little over $4 million with Lupul heading the other way. Look for Holmgren to make some more cap space before the night is over.
For many young Philadelphia-area ice hockey players, a chance to compete professionally after high school is an aspiration that rarely materializes. But one West Chester player’s professional hockey dream may come to fruition in a big way.
West Chester Rustin graduate Eric Knodel — all 6-6 and 216 pounds of him — has earned the rare opportunity to be included among 211 potential players selected at the 2009 NHL Entry draft, taking place in Montreal, Quebec, today and Saturday.
On a rumor-filled day prior to the 2009 NHL entry draft in Montreal, TSN reported that a player in the Jay Bouwmeester sweeps made a “major” offer for Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Many people speculated that the mystery suitor could be the Flyers, who just last offseason, had the trigger pulled on a trade for the puck-moving blue liner and was held back by Kaberle’s no trade clause.
However, details have surfaced that it was the Boston Bruins who had made the offer, which included sending Phil Kessel to Canada in return for Kaberle and the No. 7 overall.
As of this morning, the most likely move the Flyers make is to fall backwards in the draft in order to pick up a second rounder. The Flyers are absent from the second round due to sending their second rounder, along with Alex Picard to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Vinny Prospel, at 2007-08 trade deadline.
Look to the Islanders for a possible trade. New York owns three second-round picks, along with the 26th pick in the first. If former Flyer and current GM of the Isles Garth Snow, wants to move up to 21, he could send the Flyers the 26 and a decent selection in the second.
General Manager Paul Holmgren has made it clear that unless one of a certain group of highlighted players falls to Philly, the team is likely to trade back.
For 15 years, the Flyers have had a constant influx of mediocre goaltending. Some players came in with potential and some were just plain average to begin with. But no matter who was brought in for backstop duties, two things were always in common — The goalies never improved and Reggie Lemelin was the goalie coach. Until Thursday.
On Thursday morning, the Flyers officially announced that Lemelin’s contract has not been renewed and he would be replaced with former Tampa Bay Lightning goalie coach, Jeff Reese. Lemelin was with the Flyers for 15 years.
“I felt we needed a change, that’s all,” said General Manager Paul Holmgren, during a conference call on Thursday. “It had nothing to do with Ray Emery. Reggie was a good soldier and I just felt we needed a change there.”
Flyers’ fans rejoiced at the news, since many pointed a finger at Lemelin for the chronic goalie issues the team suffered. For not only were the players not great that the Flyers acquired, but they seemed to get worse the longer they were with the team.
The Flyers’ fan base can finally let out a sigh of relief, for Robert Esche will officially not be returning to the Orange and Black.
According to a local report from WKTV in Utica, NY, Esche has opted to not burn his bridges with the KHL and honor the final year on his contract with SKA St. Petersburg.
“Having to choose between a return to the National Hockey League and a return to the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, goalie and Whitesboro native Rob Esche has chosen the latter, telling WKTV he will honor the final year of his contract with SKA St. Petersburg.”
There were rumors that after the Flyers plucked exiled goalie Ray Emery from the KHL, that the organization was looking to do the same with Esche, to fill the vacant back-up goaltending position.
Esche was with the Flyers from 2002-2006, and is remembered for his lack of rebound control and weak play in big games. However, Esche has seemingly recovered his game in Russia, posting a 1.87 GAA in 38 games.
As Director of Hockey Operations, Chris Pryor is the gateway between General Manager Paul Holmgren and a team of scouts, that have spent the previous year preparing for the 2009 NHL draft. And with the draft just days away, Pryor gives some information as to the team’s mindset heading to Montreal.
“We have an idea of who we’re looking at,” said Pryor, in an interview with Kevin Kurz. “And we hope one of those guys are there.”
The Flyers have made it clear that they have an accurate idea of who they want to take. A small group of prospects they hope are on the board at 21. But as both Pryor and Holmgren reiterated, it’s all about taking the best player available.
“If all things are equal, we might look more toward a defenseman,” said Pryor. “Since that position is more difficult to find. But typically, we take the best player available.”
The Flyers are planning to select at 21, but aren’t canceling out the notion of moving up or down. It has been public that Holmgren has been trying hard to make a deal that could jostle the team’s position.
“There are a lot of possibilities that could come up in the next few days,” said Pryor. “We don’t know what could happen. If those guys we target aren’t there, we talk about different scenarios. We want to be prepared for what comes up in different situations.”
After being told by NBC to drop the Washington Capitals in favor of a bigger TV draw, the NHL has selected the Flyers to battle the Boston Bruins during the annual Winter Classic to be held at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, 2010.
According to the Boston Metro earlier on Tuesday…
“Multiple reports had named the Washington Capitals as the leader in the clubhouse to take on the B’s on New Year’s Day, but multiple hockey sources revealed there are concerns from NBC over television ratings with the Capitals – who are being pushed by the NHL. The NBC is instead pushing for the Philadelphia Flyers, according to the source, and the odds are growing higher by the day that the Flyers will be traveling to the Fens in January.”
An official announcement should be made later this week.
In an interview with Wayne Fish of phillyburbs.com, Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren made some interesting comments concerning the fitness and potential of winger Joffrey Lupul, coming off a very disappointing season.
“He needs to be stronger, his upper body in particular,” said Holmgren. “He needs to be in the best shape he’s ever been. This is a big year for him. He tends to drift every so often. If he’s on his game, he has a chance to be a 40-goal scorer. He does many things well, but he drifts in and out. He has to bring it every night.”
Holmgren’s mixed words come on the tail end of a forgettable 2008-09 season for Lupul, who despite managing 25 goals and 25 assists, was invisible most nights and most shifts. Flyers’ fans have had a constant love/hate relationship with the right winger because of his notorious partying combined with streaky play. On a between-periods special, Lupul admitted to having the highest fat count on the team.
Lupul recently signed a $4.25 million, four-year deal with the Flyers, who hope, starting next season, that he starts pulling his weight.
On June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Flyers are set to select the 21st pick in the 2009 NHL draft. And because of the amount of talent in the pool, the Flyers are sure to have an exciting day.
“Our stance is always the best available player,” said Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren, during a pre-draft press conference. “We have a group we’re looking at and there are guys at each position that we have in that group. It’s a good draft, we believe that with our first pick we’ll get good prospect.”