As the old saying goes, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall". That pretty much sums it up when it comes to Flyers' captain Chris Pronger. The big man has fallen pretty hard, and he won't be getting up anytime soon. This news comes as a devastating shock to the Flyers to say the least.
Which brings us to the post-Pronger era in Philadelphia. This means that different players are going to step-up on the ice and in the dressing room. The loss of the captain leaves a hole on the power-play, penalty-kill and shutdown situations for the Flyers. Lets take a look at what the Flyers will need to do to overcome this incredible obstacles.
The Flyers came into this season with Pronger dawning the "C" on his jersey. But now they must look to new players for the primary source of leadership. Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen are undoubtedly the leaders of this team going forward. These two are the alternate captains of the team, and both are former captains for Nashville and Buffalo respectively.
Aside from those two, Jaromir Jagr's role as a leader gets raised. At the age of 39 and a league veteran, the former Penguins' captain must lead the Flyers when needed. Guys like Scott Hartnell, Max Talbot and Brayden Coburn will also be called upon to be leaders for this young club going forward.
Claude Giroux is also a clear young leader representing the youth part of this team. He will be called on to lead by example once he returns from injury.
The loss of Pronger means the loss of approximately 22 to 27 minutes per game. Matt Carle has already seen his playing time bump up approximately three minutes per game. Andrej Meszaros now is a permanent top-four defensemen on this team, and will see his playing time increase, especially as the playoffs approach.
Timonen and Coburn are now the primary shut-down pair for the Flyers, as they will log the most minutes as a pair for the Flyers' defense. Along with a lot of minutes, these two will see the hardest minutes as well. Expect to see Timonen and Coburn play against players like Alex Ovechkin, Phil Kessel and Steven Stamkos.
Roster Spot in the Long-Term
But in the latter part of the season and the playoffs, the Flyers will need to add a body on the blue-line. Names like Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason come to mind out of Carolina. Both have expiring contracts (which is what the Flyers need to aquire, not a multi-year contract), and both can re-place the grit lost with Pronger. Allen is a big-body and Gleason is a hard-nosed defender. Both could be good fits and both carry a cap-hit of less than three million per season.
A guy like Nicklas Grossman could also be a good pick-up for the Flyers. The Stars would probably ask less in return than the Hurricanes, and Grossman carries a lower cap-hit of just over 1.6 million. He also has an expiring contract.
Names like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter can also be thrown out there. One of these two could potentially be aquired if the Flyers look to be in desperate need of defensive help. Since the asking price by the Predators would undoubtedly be high (most likely comanding a first round pick, James van Riemsdyk or Brayden Schenn plus a you defenseman), this deal would probably only go through should the Flyers extremely struggle defensively.