UPDATE: Craig Custance of The Sporting News says he got a text from Guerin that says he's "just in town" and "not hoping for a tryout, just skating." According to his agent in the same article, "he simply needed needed a place to skate" and that they've "had discussions with a couple of teams." Still, you have to assume the Flyers are one of those teams, given that they've let him train in Flyers orange at their practice facility.
Bill Guerin is interested in playing for your Philadelphia Flyers. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, for many different reasons. Let's stop messing around and get into them, because that's what Bill Guerin would do. (See, one good reason to sign him already.)
It should be noted, of course, that the Tim Panaccio article linked above says that Guerin simply wants a tryout contract with the Flyers. He was officially, publicly cut loose by the Penguins a few days ago, and now he's skating and working out at the Skate Zone in Flyers gear. I'm sure he needed team permission to do that anyhow, so it's clear the Flyers are looking at him hard as we speak.
Let's set one thing straight: there are literally no cons to bringing a guy like Guerin in on a tryout contract. Try to find one. They aren't there. He's been around, he's won the Cup, he'll push other guys hard. It'll be like having another coach in the room, except this coach can steal your job.
When it comes to actually signing Bill Guerin, though, there are certainly pros and cons. Let's get to the list.
- Pro: He's old. Yes, this is a good thing. Guerin is almost 40 years old, has said that he wants to play one more season in the NHL, and he's beenaround the block. He has a lot of knowledge to pass on to the young guys on this team -- looking at you, James van Riemsdyk, etc. -- and he's proven he can win, even at an older age. And when you score 45 points at age 39, you're doing something right.
- Con: He's old. No, this is a bad thing. He's old. Those 45 points were only scored because he mostly played with Sidney Crosby.
- Pro: He doesn't have many options left, meaning he'll likely take a low salary (perhaps close to the league minimum?) to be here. He might even take a spot off of the top 12 just to have another shot. He's old, he knows he doesn't have much hockey left and he wants to win.
- Con: Where's he going to fit? There's no space on the top 12 -- already, the Flyers have 13 NHL forwards -- and without bumping a younger player who's already under contract out of a job, there's simply no room for Guerin on this Flyers team.
- Pro: There's no room for him, meaning he's going to create a serious position battle in training camp. Position battles make everybody better. He'll push a guy like Dan Carcillo or Jody Shelley or Darroll Powe to really turn it up this season. They want their jobs? They need to work.
Let's break this one down a little more. Guerin's a winger, and if he earned a spot on the team in camp, he'd be pushing one of those guys out of a job. That's all but guaranteed. Would he be a better option than Carcillo, Shelley or Powe?
Guerin plays a different game than Shelley. He has (a lot) more offensive touch and he can realistically play on any line, while Shelley is certain to be relegated to fourth line duty. Guerin would certainly be an upgrade on the fourth line -- Guerin, Betts, Lappy anyone? -- but then you lose the one guy on the team who can really hold his own in a fight in Shelley. And since they just signed him in July, it doesn't seem likely that the Flyers would let him go that easily.
If you're looking for a guy to replace, Shelley probably doesn't fit in that mold.
Then there's Darroll Powe, and theoretically, I could see this one a little better than Shelley. Guerin can play on the third line and probably squeak in there pretty easily, but then you likely have Carcillo and Guerin playing on the same line. First off, they both wear 13, so that's not going to work. Secondly, you're wasting whoever you have at center with those two on the same line together. Something just doesn't add up.
The most likely swap seems to be Carcillo for Guerin. First off, the number 13 problem goes away. That's clearly the most important thing here. Other than that, these guys kind of fit the same mold. They're gritty wingers who like to mix it up after the whistles, but they also have some scoring touch. Carcillo played with the top line a lot last season, but also dropped down to the third line at times. Guerin mostly played on Pittsburgh's top line last season, but he also dropped down to the third line at times.
The only differences: Guerin's been around the block, has won the Cup, has a cooler head on his shoulders and has more offensive touch than Carcillo, despite the difference in age. He brings more in the locker room, doesn't take as many dumb penalties (although he's not a saint, most of his penalties are simply because he's not as fast as he once was) and even throws in a lot of power play minutes.
I've grown to like Dan Carcillo quite a bit since uh, writing this when he was acquired, but the reality is the reality. If Bill Guerin comes into camp and earns his way onto the team, it's probably going to happen because he was better than Carcillo. In all honesty, that's something I can live with.