According to an official release from the Philadelphia Flyers, forward Simon Gagne is very questionable for Tuesday’s game in Washington due to a lower body injury. The good news is — it’s not his groin.
As it stands now, center Blair Betts is set to return off the IR on Tuesday, moving either Darroll Powe or Mika Pyorala to a top-3 line to replace Gagne.
More injury is the last thing Gagne needs. After missing most of the preseason with a groin injury suffered in Team Canada’s conditioning camp, the 29-year-old winger has not been the same. Scoring 34 goals last year for the Flyers, Gagne has just one goal and four assists in nine games.
But it isn’t his statistics that are the issue — it’s his ice presence.
Gagne has noticeably floated aimlessly around the ice and has purposely not taken contact, to the point where many speculated a lingering groin problem.
General manager Paul Holmgren told the media that he expects to make a decision on the fate of Blair Betts sometime after Saturday’s preseason game in New Jersey. He also mentioned that the status of James van Riemsdyk and Mika Pyorala will be decided later in the week, possibly after the final preseason game versus the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Not many people know the name Mika Pyorala. But they may want to learn.
On day one of Flyers’ training camp at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., Philadelphia coach John Stevens paired 28-year old Pyorala on a line with Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter. With a healthy number of hopeful forwards looking to make an impression, no one expect the move to stick. But it did.
“They are very offensive guys that get a lot of points,” said Pyorala (PURE-ella), who will likely be matched up with the same line in the team’s first preseason game Wednesday in Detroit. “I know if I am going to play with them I have to try to balance the lines because I’m a defensive player.”
VOORHEES — With all but one forward roster spot filled for the 2009-10 season, the biggest question for the Flyers becomes … who is with who?
“I like the combination of forwards we have now,” said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “We have three really good lines and we have a ton of guys who are competing for a spot on the team. And that’s a good situation to have going into training camp.”
The Flyers open training camp on Sept. 13 at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. And although the team is primarily keeping the same line chemistry as last season, there will be some changes.
After weeks of speculation, the Flyers have made it official with former San Jose forward Lukas Kaspar. The former first-round selection in2004 was let go by the Sharks after underachieving and spending the majority of his pro career in the AHL. Kaspar played just 16 games with the Sharks, scoring four points in the process.
The 23-year old has the size to be a force at 6’2, 225 lbs., but doesn’t play like a power forward. Despite having a sniper’s shot and decent hands, Kaspar is inconsistent and plays a shy game. He has signed a two-way contract and could see some time with the Flyers, if his performance in training camp and his time with the Phantoms are productive.
With the signing of Kaspar, the Flyers continue to load up the AHL-NHL tweeners. With Krys Kolanos, Mika Pyorala, Jason Ward and now Lukas Kaspar in the mix, the Flyers have incredible forward depth in the system. Not to mention if one of these players finally hits their potential, they could quickly become an everyday NHLer.
The Flyers kept the depth forward signings rolling on Saturday, by inking right winger Jason Ward to a one-year, $500,000 deal. The contract is two way.
Ward, the 11th overall pick in the 1997 NHL entry draft, has played 336 NHL games with four teams in his career and has 36 goals and 45 assists in that time. Ward is a capable depth forward, with a suitable a two-way game and an ability to use his 6’2, 210 lbs. frame to his advantage. The 30-year old journeyman has also been touted as an excellent teammate and hard worker.
Ward will likely be the 13th forward on the team, traveling with the big club and playing as an injury call up. Outside of some younger players, the Flyers don’t have much as far as NHL capable forward depth goes. Last week, Philly signed defensive forward Mika Pyorala and AHL standout Krys Kolanos to similar deals.
According to Bill Meltzer of hockeybuzz.com, the Flyers have signed Krys Kolanos and Mika Pyorala each to one-year contracts for $500,000. Although the Flyers have not officially announced the signings, they are complete. Both players were inked days ago as possible depth forwards, with Pyorala having a better chance of cracking the everyday lineup for the Flyers.
Pyorala comes as one of the top-billed Finnish players not in the NHL. At 28-years old, he comes as an established two-way forward in the mold of former Flyer Sami Kapanen. Kolanos is an established AHL scorer, but lacks the consistency to get serious time in an NHL lineup. However, Kolanos could prove to be a decent short-term call up.
According to the always reliable Bill Meltzer, the Flyers have inked Finnish center Mika Pyorala to a deal. Terms are yet to be disclosed.
Pyorala is noted for his two-way game and the ability to play multiple positions. According to Bill, who is an expert on European talent, Pyorala is at most a third-line player in the NHL, but could be a decent find.
The 28-year old scored 21 goals and 22 assists in 55 games last season with Timra, of the SEL. The knock on Mika may be his size. Listed at 6-0, 175 lbs., he needs to put on some weight if he plans on staying in the NHL.
Although increasingly likely, it is still unclear whether Pyorala is in the Flyers’ plans to play for the big club in 2009-10, but it would fit the shut-down center role the team desperately desires.