Meet Lukas Krajicek, Your Newest Flyer Defenseman

via blogues.cyberpresse.ca

I had a chance to get some reaction from our friends down in Tampa Bay, specifically John Fontana from SBN's Raw Charge. I asked him what exactly we should expect out of Lukas Krajicek, the defenseman signed by the Flyers on Saturday. Here's what John had to say in an email exchange...

Lukas Krajicek fell upwards with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was acquired in a deal from the Canucks in early 2008-09 and by way of injuries and other drama, found himself in the top pairing sin Tampa late last season.

He then linked me over to a Raw Charge post made last January, chronicling Krajicek's rise on the Tampa blueline. In that post, John compared Krajicek to former Bolt Cory Cross, another late first round draft pick who rose to prominence in Tampa but ultimately fell out of favor when he didn't meet exceeding expectations. From that post a year ago...

Krajicek can be looked at as a victim of circumstance (and of course, this is also his opportunity to shine) much like former Lightning defensiveman Cory Cross found himself a victim of circumstance and thrust into the limelight of Lightning defensive pairings in days gone by where Bolt teams weren't worthy of the IHL or AHL, let alone the NHL. 

Cross' stats bottomed out in 1997-98 (-24) and 1998-99 (-25 /  22:38 Average time on ice) as much more was expected of him on a woeful defensive team that lacked solid goaltending with thanks to injuries and cash strapping (Darren Puppa, you are not forgotten)..

Unfortunately for both Krajicek and the Lightning, he met a fate much like Cross. Again, from my email exchange with John...

He's a lower pair defenseman who did play top-line minutes last season, but didn't thrive. This season, when he was playing regularly with the Bolts, he was becoming a liability on ice more than a steady player. We (the fans in general) didn't understand how he was re-signed by the Lightning with it's revamped defense to begin with. He's been the odd man out since before training camp had ever commenced.

So what should we expect out of Krajicek? Well, he does have some upside. He's a big guy but his biggest strength is his mobility, and he can move the puck very well. Basically, the Flyers only need him to be better than a terrible Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. The numbers aren't very reliable this season, thanks to a ridiculously small sample size; Tollefsen has only played in 18 NHL games this season while Krajicek has only seen action in 23.

At the very least, this gives the Flyers some flexibility on defense moving forward. It's pretty hard to be upset with that.

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