Since the loss of Chris Pronger to a career ending injury, the Flyers defense has been in disarray. What was once legitimately one of the best Top-4 defensive units in the league has gotten progressively worse since then. And with Kimmo Timonen set to retire after this season, the Flyers are in desperate need of some young, puck moving talent on the back end. But inexplicably Flyers brass has chosen to go in another direction entirely.
Although the injury to Pronger was unforeseeable and unfortunate, a series of successive management blunders have served only to further cripple the Flyers defense.
- Letting Matt Carle walk in free agency
- Acquiring Nick Grossmann for a 2nd and 3rd round pick
- Resigning Grossmann 3 year 3.5 AAV contract
- Trading promising young forward James Van Riemsdyk for a struggling Luke Schenn
- Acquiring an aging Mark Streit on a 35+ contract worth 5.25 AAV.
- And now acquiring Andy MacDonald for a 2nd, and 3rd round pick and Matt Mangene.
I’m not going to waste time reiterating how bad Grossmann and MacDonald are at hockey. Its been covered exhaustively by our friends at Broad Street Hockey and Jewels from the Crown. Suffice it to say, they are two of the worst defenders in the entire NHL bar none. They do nothing to address this hockey clubs biggest issues; namely puck possession, d-zone breakouts, and neutral zone transition. Luke Schenn, while marginally better from possession stand point, is cut from the same shot blocking and smashing faces cloth as MacDonald and Grossmann. Mark Streit, an admittedly decent puck mover, is well beyond his prime and has an atrocious contract that the Flyers will have to eat in cap space and real dollars if he retires early. Matt Carle, a big minutes puck mover, was allowed to walk away in free agency for nothing. And Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers lone remaining 3 zone defender, is 38 years old and set to retire at the end of the season.
Andy MacDonald is reportedly looking for a 4 to 5 million dollar AVV multi-year deal. If he is signed long term, the Flyers will be locked into Nick Grossmann, L.Schenn, and Andy MacDonald for the foreseeable future. This trio of incompetence will be be Flyers staples for years to come. And Flyers fans will be stuck waiting and hoping that prospects with some actual promise like Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Haag, and Samuel Morin can crack the NHL in time to make an impact.
Even more egregiously, the Flyers have spent a combined 4 draft picks, 1 Top-6 caliber winger, and a minor league prospect to acquire players THAT MAKE THEM APPRECIABLY WORSE AT HOCKEY. We sent 2 picks and a prospect to a divisional rival in the New York Islanders for their worst statistical defender! We are literally paying our competitors to sabotage our defense. Trades like this are unforgivable and indicative of a larger problem with Flyers brass. Paul Holmgren and his staff don’t care about puck possession. They don’t care about winning hockey games. They don’t care about wasting Giroux’s prime offensive years with a below average defense. They have become willfully ignorant of what it takes to win in today’s NHL. That much is painfully obvious. And these things won’t change until the Flyers clean house and change their management culture. It starts at the top with Ed Snider and Paul Holmgren.
The new NHL is a puck possession league. Elite teams own the puck and force you to play in the defensive zone for 60 minutes. Yet the Flyers brass has steadfastly ignored the analytics community and the prime examples of winning hockey set by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, the Boston Bruins, and the Detroit Red Wings. These teams are some of the best in the last decade at being competitive and staying competitive. And it’s because they openly focus on puck possession. They should be our models for how to build a Stanley Cup caliber team. Instead Holmgren seems intent on modeling his team after the Edmonton Oilers, a perennially basement dwelling team. Young mix of promising and uber talented fowards? Check! An utter lack of youth, talent, or competence on defense? Check! A rotating cast of average to below average goaltenders? Check!
Did I miss anything Paul?