When 18-year old Luca Sbisa was traded to Anaheim in the blockbuster deal for defenseman Chris Pronger, many Flyers’ fans believed that despite the loss of the popular blue line standout, Sbisa would be moving on to a good situation in California.
And after news broke that Sbisa will shadow a certain Hall of Fame defenseman, his situation may have gotten even better.
The Flyers have announced that rookie Luca Sbisa will replace suspended Daniel Carcillo as forward for game two of the Flyers – Penguins first-round series. Naturally a defenseman, Sbisa has played forward on the fourth line sparingly for the Flyers during the regular season. It will be his first career NHL playoff game.
With Kimmo Timonen and Randy Jones missing practice on Thursday due to injuries, it makes sense to have your emergency defenseman dressed. Sbisa is strong on the forecheck and can move the puck. However, his finishing skills are a bit off.
Sbisa was brought up to the Phantoms after his season with Lethbridge of the WHL ended. He was then brought up from the Phantoms to the Flyers the instant Philly’s post season began because of salary cap allowences in the playoffs.
Darroll Powe will move to a line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.
In the NHL rulebook, it states that any player engaging in entertaining naughty activity in the final moments of a game can be suspended and the coach of the team be fined. For the Flyers, it was Daniel Carcillo with the one-game layoff and coach John Stevens with the 10k fine.
In the final minutes of the final period in game one of the playoff series against the Penguins, Carcillo took a faceoff against Maxime Talbot. Down 4-1 and frustrated, Carcillo’s right glove contacted Talbot’s head. Talbot fell to the ground like he was obliterated by the hammer of Thor. No penalty was given, but a suspension followed.
One day after playing noticeably bad in his first game with the Phantoms, defenseman Luca Sbisa recovered big time, by scoring his first professional goal and adding an assist in the Phantoms’ 3-2 loss to the Hershey Bears, Saturday.
The slap shot goal from the slot cut the Bears’ lead to 2-1 in second period. The Phantoms will take on Hershey in the first round of the post season.
Sbisa’s sluggish start back in Philadelphia could be due to fatigue. The Swiss blue liner arrived 20-pounds less than when he left the city midway through the NHL season. Sbisa was relied on heavily throughout the playoffs for the Hurricanes, at one time getting a gluttonous 41-minutes on ice time in game seven of the opening round against Saskatoon. That’s over two full periods.
The Flyers returned the rookie to Lethbridge of the WHL during the NHL season so they wouldn’t lose a year of his restricted free agent eligibility.
Sbisa will likely join the Flyers during the post seaso, as a seventh defender in case of emergencies. However, there is a possibility General Manager Paul Holmgren leaves him with the Phantoms for their playoff run.
Given the circumstance, amateur defenseman turn NHL blue liner for the day, David Sloane, did not have a bad game on Thursday, despite only getting 6:44 of ice time and having one blocked shot. But there is something to say about a Philly guy playing his first game at the highest level, against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, in a playoff-style atmosphere.
“One minute I’m in Albany (with the Phantoms), the next I’m in a rental car coming down to New York,” Sloane said. “It was a total surprise to me.”
Because defenseman Ryan Parent was still feeling the lingering effects of a groin tweak. And Riley Cote was out with a bum finger. The Flyers were stuck with both players’ salary on the books and needed a replacement on defense, while being pressed hard against the cap. The solution — sign an amateur on the Phantoms that hasn’t played a professional game and play him within 24-hours. Signing Sloane meant that for 24-hours, the 24-year old defenseman from Colgate University, wouldn’t count against the cap.
“It’s not an ideal situation to be in,” said Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren. “I don’t particularly like playing short-handed. David Sloane is a college hockey player who has never played a pro game. Is he ready for the National Hockey League? Probably not, but he’s going to be put under fire.”
Lucky for the Flyers, Parent will be ready to play on Saturday against the New York Islanders, while Sloane will get sent back to the Phantoms.
Also in defensive news, the Flyers have assigned Luca Sbisa to the Phantoms. Sbisa’s junior season ended Wednesday night, making him eligable to go pro for the rest of the season. Sbisa will join the Flyers once the playoffs start, when the salary cap becomes virtually meaningless.
The tweak of the groin that knocked Flyers’ defenseman Ryan Parent out in the middle of Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers, will keep him out on more contest. The Flyers were tinkering with the idea that Parent would be available for Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers, but the young rear guard was officially pulled out of the lineup after the 10 a.m. morning skate at Madison Square Garden.
Taking his place will be Phantoms’ top defensemen and one of the top AHL leading scorers from the blue line, Danny Syvret. Syvret will be playing in his third NHL game this season and has solidified himself as the Flyers’ seventh defenseman until rookie Luca Sbisa rejoins the team. Syvret has 12 goals and 42 assists in 74 games with the Phantoms this season.
Sbisa, who was sent back to his junior team mid season, will return to the Flyers, after his Lethbridge Hurricanes were unceremoniously knocked out of the WHL post season by the Calgary Hitmen last night, four games to none.
Because Sbisa can not rejoin the Flyers during the regular season, it is possible he will take a couple days off then join the Phantoms. If the Phantoms do not make the playoffs (they are tied for the final playoff spot with two games remaining), Sbisa would join the Flyers as a fringe player, simply practicing with the team but spending game time in the press box, unless needed.
Currently playing the role of top defenseman for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, Flyers’ prospect Luca Sbisa has big goals in mind and his offseason already planned.
“I’m going to go back to Switzerland for a little bit this offseason and will finish up some college credits,” Sbisa told Al Alven of Philadelphiaflyers.com. “After that, I’ll be spending lots of time in Philly to work on some things. I want to try to add more muscle, improve my strength and work on my speed, so I’ll be working very closely with [Flyers trainer] Jim McCrossin.”
Sbisa has logged about 30-35 minutes a game and has played in all aspects for the Hurricanes, who are up 3-2 in a best of seven series with the Saskatoon Blades.
“I realized when I got back to Lethbridge that this was a chance for me to do some things I missed, like playing lots of minutes and getting power play time,” Sbisa said. “I really did miss that stuff. It was also a chance to go for a championship and try to contend for the Memorial Cup, which would be great.”