This weekend's draft was yet another interesting draft for the Flyers, given not quite as wild as last year, but the events of the weekend raise more questions about the Flyers plans this offseason than they answer.
As much as I love Bob, and feel we gave up on him completely too early, this was a move that needed to be done, unfortunately it needed to be done back when Bob was just coming off a very successful first season as a starter, instead of struggling as a backup. One can view this trade in two ways, one way being that the Flyers got 3 draft picks for a goalie who struggled as a backup and we signed out of nowhere, big win. Another way to look at it is Nashville getting more for a goalie with no starting experience as opposed to a goaltender who has actually had success as a starter. Bottom line being I wish Bob all the best with the Blue Jackets, and believe he will become a star in this league, but he was not comfortable as a backup and was way too expensive to be kept at that position. Right now it appears that this will lead to Michael Leighton taking over the backup job, but frankly I would prefer we go after a UFA veteran backup for a mil or so. This trade was the clearest part of the entire weekend, Bob was too expensive and too ineffective as a backup (to be fair the starter didn't fair much better), and he wanted/needed to start, now he gets that chance and the Flyers get to save money.
The next big thing: Flyers draft forward Scott Laughton
Now, I am not going to pretend I know very much about prospects, but I do know one thing, I feel that the Flyers made a bonehead move here. They may have gotten a player they really liked, but that doesn't change the fact that he is indeed a forward. Given he apparently plays good defense, a thing that's greatly needed from forwards in this current NHL, but baffelling in the fact that we need Defensive prospects, desperately. The best prospects the Flyers have are Gustafsson, Bourdon, and Manning, none of which appear to be top 4 caliber defensemen, a bad thing as your defensemen start to age or want more money. The point is The Flyers can no longer afford to take on overpaid defensemen through free agents or trade, they need to start breeding them at home. Whether or not Laughton proves to be more valuable than a player like Maatta that the Flyers passed on remains to be seen, but I believe the Flyers should have gone for some defensive prospect in the first round.
The move that con-volutes everything: James VanRiemsdyk for Luke Schenn
First off, I love this trade, Luke Schenn is an absolute animal and a stud in his own end. He fell out of favor in Toronto under the unreal expectations of the Leafs organization, but that doesn't change what Luke Schenn is. Schenn is a very solid defenseman, can move the puck better than some may think, can hit like a bull, and is strong in his own end. JVR had also fallen out of favor in Philadelphia, aside from a short playoff burst, JVR has been overall inconsistent and disappointing, not being able to finish, lack of effort, and frankly just not showing the talent we have all heard about over the years. In this case, both players really did need a change in scenery. I wish JVR all the best and am excited to see Luke Schenn in a Flyer uniform, my dream is to see him paired with Meszaros and create a Bash Brothers, of sorts, should be exciting, but what the trade really did is cloud the rest of the offeason.
With the trade for Luke Schenn, the Flyers now have a very crowded defense. If Matt Carle is resigned (all indications now are he will), the Flyers will have 6 defensemen being paid over 3 million cap hit, that is a lot of money (not counting Pronger of course). This raises some questions, will a defenseman be traded? those who lose out on Suter and Wideman may be searching for a very good D, and we will have plenty by then. Will Kimmo Timonen be retiring? (not likely, but a friend of mine who is a sports writer himself suggests it as one of the many possibilities). Who would be the most likely player to go if someone is traded? All reports would indicate Mez (much to my disdain, I feel Mez is the best defenseman we have), since he would get the most return and has popped up in many trade rumors, right up there with Matt Carle, who obviously wouldn't be traded due to the fact that he would just recently be signed (Holmgren seems to like waiting a few months to a year after signing a player to a new contract to trade him).
Then we have the offense, which given did very well without JVR this season, I have a feeling that the Flyers are going to lose Jaromir Jagr to free agency, and with how he seemed to have faded at the end of the season and in the playoffs, signing him to the raise that he wants would not be smart. PA Parenteau or Brad Boyes could be a good option if they're looking for more second line talent, but you can't help but think of a few players that the Flyers might pursue, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan, and Alexander Semin. Semin would be a massive roll of the dice, some players with attitude problems work out for a team like the Flyers (Jagr) and some don't (Zherdev), if we can get Semin for a lower price, possibly around 5 mil, and control him to possibly get him back to his 40+ goal form, by all means take him, he's not going to play much D, but that's what you have a 3rd and 4th line for. Parise and Ryan are more pipe dreams now, it seems like Parise, out of respect for Lamarillo, won't sign with an Atlantic division team (I still feel both he and Suter are heading to the Wings), and Anaheim wanted a trade for Bobby Ryan done at the draft, and also wanted Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier, which the Flyers do not want to part with, and reasonably so.
Needless to say, this is going to be another interesting offseason for the Fly Guys, as rumors continue to swirl about this always newsworthy team, but the picture of what the Flyers are looking to do is much more cloudy than last season, it's going to be quite a ride! buckle up!