This is not a guide to what we lost today. I loved both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter just as much if not more than any of you out there… but they are gone. I am devastated but more than any other feeling I feel betrayed as a fan. This city loved both of those guys, especially the captain. The guy who is my wall paper on my computer for the short-handed goal in the Conference Finals clincher. But this post is not about the past; it’s about the future. And I’m looking at the positives. Some in depth previews with lots of video clips (I’m sure the staff here will do a great job of giving us a look at the advanced stat/salary cap/etc. issues) while generally doing my best to help guide you to see the light at the end of the tunnel… or back away from the ledge if you were as negative at first as I was.
For starters, I now have a Western Conference team: The LA Kings. I liked them before because of the connections with Hextall, Stevens, and Murry. I really liked them once I was introduced to Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson in the Olympics for the U.S. and then started watching when I could. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Michael Hanzeus (ZEUUUUUUUUSSSSSS), and Ryan Smith (West-Coast version of Mike Knuble). This team with Mike Richards finally gives me another team to root for, which is kind of cool.
Now as far as positives for the Flyers, we finally have a draft pick! And its in the first round! And its EIGHTH OVERALL! Let me say that again---the Flyers have the 8th overall pick in this years amateur NHL hockey draft. I’m not going to go into detail on who we could get with that pick, I’m sure there will be plenty of articles written on that. We acquired three players today.
For an immediate impact in both physicality and skill, meet Wayne Simmonds (meet him again in this awesome video). He’s a 6’2”, 183 pound, physical third liner, but at only 23 at the start of next season he still has his second line potential on the score sheet. He had 23 points as a rookie, 40 in the 09-10 season, and a 30 point clip this year---all while having at least 75 PIM each year (116 two years ago).
Last year he put up the 7th most ES TOI/60 (of 13 LA Kings forwards who played at least 30 games), 6th most G/60, T-9th most A1/60, while putting up an impressive 5th P/60: 1.77. JVR was 7th on the Flyers with 1.88, followed by Versteeg and Zherdev’s 1.68 and 1.66.
One thing that Philly fans will love is his physicality. This fight is an awesome one, he takes on Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry in this one, and he DESTROYS someone here off the draw. His fighting has improved each year in the NHL according to HockeyFights.com: 1-3-1 as a 20 year old rookie, 2-1-3 the following year, and 3-1-2 this past year. He fought his way onto the club his rookie year fighting four times that pre-season; and once the previous (19 year old, final season of juniors when he put up 75 points in 60 games while compiling 111 PIM; 49 in 66 with 112 his 18 year old season). Rick Tocchet said on DNL Primetime that he thinks that Simmonds has 30 goal potential, and with his shiny new center---any one of Danny Briere, Braydon Schenn, or Claude Giroux, and with that kind of skill I’d venture to say he’d top the 25 goal mark. We have July 1st to sign him before he becomes a restricted free agent. After putting emotions to the side, I would love to have this kid in orange and black. And if you didn’t watch any of the videos to see what number he wears… lets just say Jeff Carter’s 17 won’t remain vacant (Simmonds wore 16 in juniors and 17 in LA).
In trading Mike Richards to the Kings, we did not just get Simmonds, but a 2012 2nd round draft pick (I know!) and a prospect. If anyone who knows anything about hockey prospects, they know this one. His name is Brayden Schenn. This amazing video starts out with what looks to me like tons of shootout goals (we do need help there…), a sweet fight, a bunch of hits, and then there is this quote from someone who was asked about what his potential looks like:
“The guy who comes to mind for me a little bit is Mike Richards from Philadelphia. A guy that’s a heart and sole player on his team, he’s a captain. Real good offensively, and yet brings real toughness to his team and leadership”
Creepy, right? His 16 year old season he put up 71 points (28-43) in 66 games while earning WHL Rookie of the Year honors and Most Popular Player (I guess that’s good). That season he also won gold in two major world hockey tournaments, while leading one in scoring. His next season in70 games his line was 32-56-88 with a very impressive 18 points in 12 playoff games. He was then drafted 5th overall by the LA Kings. In his 18-year-old season he tasted his first NHL action when he played in one game netting a minus-1. He went back to juniors and in 59 games he tore it up with a 34 goal, 65 assist, 99 point season (15 games, 19 points in playoffs). Last year he got 8 NHL games with the Kings only getting 2 assists and netting another minus-1 and was sent down to the AHL where he totaled 7 points (3-4) in 7 games. He went back down to juniors (age restriction--- too young for AHL) and with 2 teams racked up 22 goals, 35 assists, 57 points in only 29 games. His 11 playoff points in 10 games was rather disappointing, but he more than made up for it at the world Juniors.
After a solid, but not mind-blowing 8 point in 6 game clip in the 2010 World Juniors, he was named an alternate captain of the World Juniors 2011 team. He put up record breaking numbers--- 18 points (8-10) in only 7 games, seven over the second place finishers. He made the all tournament team, won IIHF Best Forward Award, and was selected Most Valuable Player. He tied the most goals in a game record for Canada with 4 (Some guys named Mario Lemiux and Simone Gagne were the only other ones to accomplish that. In the gold medal game he had a goal and an assist in the losing effort to Russia. At the end of the tournament it was found out that Schenn separated his shoulder in the quarterfinal game. And one more note… before this World Juniors the highest point total a Canadian has ever accumulated was 17. Their numbers were 88 and 99. You can figure out the rest.
Schenn isn’t afraid to duke it out either. He fought four times in his 16-year-old season and once more that playoffs. Five times as a 17-year-old and once as an 18-year old. This past preseason he fought former Flyer Luca Sbisa… and destroyed him. But Schenn is a scorer. He’s a playmaker. He’s future leadership. He’s expensive (3 million, but I’m not getting into any financials). He’s going to help this NHL roster this season. His NHL Equivalencies are promising. In each of his 4 seasons his P/G totals are as followed: 1.075, 1.257, 1.677, 1.965. That translates to the following point amounts had the player played in the NHL during that season: 26.4, 30.9, 41.2, 70.9. 70 points if he were in the NHL last year is unrealistic because he had 2 points in 8 games but you understand the points. Guys like Jason Akeson and Brenden Ranford both averaged well over 1 PPG and their equivalencies looked more like 40-50 than 70. I am excited for this kid. Fun fact: He wears 10 because of Pavel Bure. I wonder if Kris Versteeg is around long enough to make Schenn change numbers. Another fun fact: He hasn’t scored an NHL goal yet, so we’ll be his first.
Now lets say hello to Jakub Voracek. Last years advanced numbers: G/60- 11th on Columbus with .56 (Carcillo was .55), A1/60- 1st on Columbus with .95 (Richie was second with .84, Claude Giroux had 1.24). He played against 2nd line competition, with 1st line teammates (Nash was the RW on their first line, Voracek was “second”), while starting in the offensive zone 7th most of 15 players with a 57.8% rate. His corsi on was 8.09 good for 4th, while his corsi rel was 9.3, good for 3rd. For those not fond of advanced stats he played 2 years in the QMJHL putting up 86 points in 59 games (12 games, 24 points in the playoffs) in his 17 year old season and 53 games and 101 points in his 18 year old season (18 in 15). Those two years equate to 33 and 43 points in the NHL Equivalencies. His rookie NHL season, at only 19, he played in 80 games putting up 9 goals, 29 assists and 38 points for the Blue Jackets. As a 20 year old in 81 games, he improved his 9 goals to 16 and his assists from 29 to 34 totaling his current career high of 50 points. Last year he played in 80 games again while netting 14 and dishing 32 assists totaling 46 points---not bad for a below average Columbus team. He made the 2007 QMJHL All-Rookie team along with winning the Michel Bergeron Trophy for top offensive rookie, and made “Second All-Star Team” in 2008.
Jakub is an extremely talented passer with some scoring and defensive touch. I think that given an opportunity to play with two of the following: Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, James vanReimsdyk, Andreas Nodl, Kris Versteeg, Scott Hartnell, or Ville Leino has to be better than playing with whoever he played with in Columbus. Could you imagine JVR getting fed from Giroux and this guy? That keeps Briere-Harts-Leino together and gives Schenn the wingers of Simmonds/Versteeg/Nodl---all three are very respectable in their own defensive zone. Those are three lines who can put the puck in the net and two that can play solid defense. Tack on a grinding line of Nodl/Powe/Betts and we can roll four lines deep.
So how do I feel about today? Only time can really tell. I’m coping right now. We essentially traded 2 of the top players in hockey, along with two (I’m assuming the conditional pick in the Bryzgalov deal is a 3rd rounder dependent on the Flyers signing their goalie of the future) third round picks for
1. The 7th overall pick in the draft
2. Ilya Bryzgalov- the Flyers long-awaited goalie of the future
3. Brayden Schenn- the top prospect in all of hockey who can score, assist, play defense, fight, and has worn a letter on every team he’s play for… and has drawn comparisons to the very guy he was traded for.
4. Jakub Voracek- a top flight playmaker who has the potential to explode this season playing with some elite teammates (JVR-Giroux-Voracek would be fun to watch) and is only 22 going into next year.
5. Wayne Simmonds- a young defensive oriented physical player with serious ("30 goal"- Rick Tocchet) potential who doesn’t hesitate to drop the gloves.
6. 2nd rounder in 2012, 3rd rounder in 2011
I’ll always have a place in my heart for 17 and 18 but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pumped to watch these new guys.