Michael Haley will be playing the role of centerfield fence.
Since the Flyers acquired Maxime Talbot, he's been compared to players like Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, Blair Betts, and Darroll Powe.
I happen to like the Carcillo comparison, but I'm going for something completely different here. Let's look at the parallels between Talbot and Aaron Rowand, a baseball player who holds a relatively prominent position in recent Phillies lore.
Teammates in Philadelphia
Rowand joined the Phillies as they "dump[ed] the lifeless Bobby Abreu". Abreu was a star outfielder who was often panned in Philadelphia for not giving enough effort despite his excellent statistical production. He arrived as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley made the transition to being full-fledged stars, with talents like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino just starting to get playing time.
Talbot joins the Flyers as they jettison Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, whose similarities to Abreu in accomplishment and perception were often noted here. Talbot arrives as Claude Giroux and hopefully James van Riemsdyk make the transition to being full-fledged stars, with talents like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier just starting to get playing time.
Style of play
Rowand's SB Nation profile describes him as an intense competitor with tremendous instincts and hustle, while noting that he is injury-prone due to his all-out style of play. Elsewhere, he is called "gutsy" and "workmanlike", and is praised by management for "show[ing] up wanting to play".
Talbot's SB Nation profile describes him as a gritty energy forward who plays with tremendous passion and displays leadership ability, but calls him injury-prone due to his gung-ho style of play. Elsewhere, he is called "gutsy" and "workmanlike", and is praised by management for his "work ethic and determination".
One of the defining traits of Rowand's play is his apparent desire to win. This is a player whose heroic catch not only won a game for the Phillies, but is often credited with making the entire team play harder, a player whose baserunning captures the desire and spirit of a World Championship team that is still hungry.
For Talbot, the desire to win is sometimes cited, but it is his accomplishments in the clutch that really connect him with winning. The player who kept his team alive with a last-minute goal in the 2008 Stanley Cup finals and who scored both goals in a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the 2009 finals earned a special place in the hearts of most Penguins fans.
While he is remembered fondly for a few plays that stand out sharply in our memories, Rowand's numbers were never as impressive as his intangibles. His traditional statistics are middling, but some numbers that the analytical community favors like walk rate and pitches per plate appearance were well below average, prompting Baseball Prospectus to call him "a championship-caliber reserve, and a replacement-level regular".
While the Pens fans remember him fondly for a few plays that stand out sharply in their memories, Talbot's numbers were never as impressive as his intangibles. His traditional statistics are middling, but some numbers that the analytical community favors like relative Corsi and quality of competition are well below average, prompting Hockey Prospectus to call his Cup-winning year "a miserable regular season, even by his mediocre standards".
The disparity between Rowand's statistics and his intangibles earned him a level of praise from the mainstream media that the analytical community never felt was fully deserved. Talbot may end up similarly controversial in Philadelphia, as defensive 3rd/4th line tweeners often have been (think Nodl or Powe). However, this is not a foregone conclusion -- maybe Talbot can follow in Laperriere's footsteps as a beloved defensive forward. Another Cup-winning goal wouldn't hurt.