Friday Night in Philadelphia

Flyers on the clock at the 2014 NHL Draft held in Philadelphia.

Flyers on the clock at the 2014 NHL Draft held in Philadelphia.

Although the Philadelphia Flyers’ most noteworthy moves came at the beginning of the week on June 23rd, it was the 2014 NHL Draft held at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia on Friday night (and Saturday morning) that was the main attraction.  It was the first time that commissioner Gary Bettman and his contingent allowed the event to be held in Philadelphia, in front of arguably the most passionate fan-base in all of North of America.  And those attendees (myself, included) did not disappoint, and, in turn, were not disappointed.

Every single time Bettman, a native of Queens and orchestrator of three contentious lockouts during his tenure, stepped to the podium he was greeted by merciless “boos” that rained down on him as if he, himself, had single-handedly cost the Flyers a Stanley Cup.  I am in the camp of those who despise the evil tyrant known as Gary Bettman, but I must say that he handled himself very well in the face of around 12-15 thousand or so heckling spectators.

As for the actual draft, it was rather uneventful.  Even with the lack of trade movement that was promised by most “insiders” or “experts”(Pen James Neal to Nashville was the highlight), the actual event went off without a hitch.  Walking around the Wells Fargo concourse and finding yourself face to face with many baby-faced, future NHLer’s was quite a thrill and something that I will never forget.

Flyers rookie General Manager Ron Hextall had already made a splash earlier in the week by dealing fan favorite Scott Hartnell in exchange for the more versatile R.J Umberger and his re-signing of young 20-goal scorer Brayden Schenn; and despite rampant rumors about the orange and black being even more active on the draft floor (including credible whispers of trading for the #1 overall pick) nothing came to fruition.  The Flyers stood pat.

And with the 17th selection in the first round Hextall and his team decided to pick, from the the WHL, Calgary Hitmen defenseman Travis Sanheim.  Despite the shock amongst the Flyers faithful for not selecting the likes of Kasperi Kapanen (son of former Flyer Sami), Alex Tuch (a 6’4” power forward), or Anthony DeAngelo (the south Jersey blueliner), Sanheim still received a deafening roar of approval.

Philly's newest Flyers.

Philly’s newest Flyers.

Though not well known amongst the mainstream (ranked #53 in Central Scouting’s N.A. skaters), Sanheim, much like Morin last season, was the fastest riser in the 2014 draft class.  Former Calgary GM, and current NHL Network/TSN analyst Craig Button, had him ranked as the 8th best player in the entire draft and even compared him to Ryan Mcdonagh at the same age.  Essentially the kid was the wildcard.  And despite a lack of fanfare, Philadelphia may have just gotten themselves a major steal.

Standing at 6’3″, Sanheim is an exceptional skater with profound vision.  He plays a solid two-way game and impressed scouts most during the World’s Under-18 Tournament in which he managed to notch 6 points in 7 games.  He may never reach the offensive potential that Ryan Mcdonagh has displayed in New York but he projects very favorably  as a top-4 blueliner in this league.  I’d compare him most to steady Blackhawks defender Niklas Hjalmarsson; nothing fancy but very few weaknesses.

In the following rounds your Philadelphia Flyers selected: #48th Overall- C/RW Nicholas Aube-Kubel  (Undersized, speedy playmaker; brings versatility); #86th- D Mark Friedman (Mobile, two-way dman with PP potential); #138th- LW Oskar Lindblom  (6’3” Power forward who wreaks havoc in front of net, had early 2nd round grade beginning the season); #168th- LW Radeel Fazleev (A teammate of Sanheim’s, this 6-foot Russian is a hardworking two-way player who could spend a few seasons honing his skills in Russia); #198th D Jesper Pettersson (Undersized at just 5’9” but still weighs 200+lbs; Flyers scouts describe him as “thick and feisty”, sort of the anti-Timonen when it comes to small dmen; more defensive depth in the system).

After being harshly criticized by most pundits for a complete lack of blueline prospects just a few years ago, things are now dramatically different.  The organization now boasts 6’3″ righty Mark Alt (expected to challenge for a spot in training camp), offensive dynamo and Union College hero Shayne Gostisbehere, 6’6″ monster Samuel Morin, two-way blue chipper Robert Hagg, and now a smooth skating, 6’3″ Saneheim.  In just two seasons the Philadelphia organization has rebuilt its defensive pipeline.

Like usual the Flyers followed their internal rankings rather than listening to the pundits who frequent NBC, the NHL Network, and TSN.  Hextall has openly admitted to the public (prior to the draft) that the best way to build a true contender is through internal development rather than just throwing money at the problem in free agency.  And I must admit that that is a breath of fresh air following the regime’s of Bobby Clarke and Paul Holmgren.  Of course the problem with this approach is that Flyers fans will not bear the fruits of their labor for several years.  But if Hextall stays  true to his philosophy we should see a legitimate contender blossom within the next few years as all their blue-chip blueliners start teaming up with a forward corps that is just entering its prime.  Time will tell whether or not Hextall is the next Dean Lombardi or disgraced former Canucks GM Mike Gillis.  Here’s hoping for the former.

 

Up next: a breakdown of the Flyers current roster and what can be done this summer to take the next step.

Just saying Sam..

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Dr.J during the 2014 NBA Lottery

Sam Hinkie was in the driver’s seat. There were three top picks in this year’s draft and he had the third draft pick. He could choose from whoever was available at number three and it would be a great move.

Then Joel Embiid had to break his damn foot..

Who know’s what Sam Hinkie is going to do now. John Gonzalez thinks he should trade Micheal Carter-Williams to the Lakers for the seventh pick, then trade Thaddeus Young for a draft pick in the middle of the first round. I stand by my favorite proposed trade. Oh, what’s that? You haven’t heard about that one yet?

First things first, let’s start by addressing the rumor that MCW and Thaddeus Young would go to Los Angeles for the Lakers seventh pick and Steve Nash’s contract. Here’s what Ben Detrick had to say about that trade in one paragraph.

“If Hinkie snaked two first-rounders from New Orleans for Jrue Holiday a year ago, why would he trade a younger player with a higher ceiling and a vastly better contract for … one first-rounder? All while also giving up a useful trade chip in Young? And taking back Nash’s “Eff You, Pay Me” [$9.7] million for next season? If that occurs, expect Hinkie to rip off his plastic face, Mission: Impossible–style, to reveal the cackling skull of a Billy King turducken critter.”

Perfect..

So, what if Sam Hinkie offered those same players, plus a second rounder or two to Orlando for the fourth pick? Orlando would have to add Jameer Nelson to match Thaddeus Young’s contract. Aaron Afflalo has reportedly just been traded, otherwise he would’ve been an ideal candidate. Victor Oladipo’s skills might be best utilized as a shooting guard while MCW could slide in as the new point guard. The two said they enjoyed playing with each other at the Rising Stars Challenge. The Magic might not bite, but isn’t it worth a shot?

Next, draft Dante Exum and Noah Vonleh. You would then have two young players with a tremendous upside that can take their merry old time to develop. Noel now has a partner in the paint to compliment him. Vonleh is big enough to guard the opposing team’s center but can also shoot from three point range and spread the floor. He’s arguably the best power forward prospect in this year’s draft. Julius Randle might have been more productive but Vonleh might be the better prospect and it’s not just because of his far superior wing span and Go Go Gadget hands.

The talk about Exum is that he is MCW part 2. Depending on who you talk to Dante has a quicker first step. The main difference between MCW and Dante, is that Exum is almost four years younger than MCW. That gives Dante four more years to work on the same flaws he shares with MCW, mainly a suspect jump shot. That’s also four more years to develop till he becomes the same age as MCW, which means he’s got that much more upside.

The only issue that I have with this trade is that it leaves the Sixers with fewer assets to move the tenth draft pick into the top eight. If you stay at ten, you walk away with Nik Staukas, Garry Harris, James Young or Zach LaVine. If you move into the top eight you are guaranteed to be left with Marcus Smart, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon.

Such is life, it is a cruel world we live in. The effort in producing a Hinkie-worthy trade is still there none the less. After all, a team with Exum, Vonleh, Noel and the tenth draft pick, might be a decent consolation prize for a Wiggin-less Sixers team and their fans.

 

Flyers re-sign Brayden Schenn — Two years, $5 million

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Originally posted on ProHockeyTalk:

The Philadelphia Flyers kept their busy day rolling right along.

The team announced they’ve re-signed forward Brayden Schenn to a multi-year extensionTSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the deal is for two years, $5 million. That likely makes it a bridge contract on the way to a longer, more lucrative deal in 2016.

Schenn, 22, had a breakout year scoring 20 goals with 41 points to lead the way on the Flyers’ second line this past season. With today’s deal of Scott Hartnell going to Columbus in exchange for R.J. Umberger, Schenn will have at least one new face to potentially get acquainted with on his line.

If Schenn sticks at center, it gives the Flyers a dynamic young duo up the middle with Claude Giroux leading the way. There has been talk he could slide over and play the left wing more often in the future, but his ability…

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Flyers trade Hartnell to Columbus for Umberger, fourth-round pick

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phillyphanatic77:

An explanation to follow…

Originally posted on ProHockeyTalk:

Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall has made his first major move since his promotion by shipping Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for R.J. Umberger and a 2015 fourth-round pick, per the Flyers’ website.

The Flyers are losing a forward that brings a blend of skill and grit to the table in the 32-year-old Hartnell, but they’re also putting themselves in a bit of a better position from a cap perspective. Hartnell comes with a $4.75 million cap hit through 2018-19 while Umberger’s five-year, $23 million contract will be over in the summer of 2017.

“(Hartnell) is a talented, tough, hard-working player who brings valuable experience and leadership on and off the ice,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We believe he will fit in very well with our group and be an important part of our team moving forward.”

Umberger, also 32, is coming off…

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NBA Mock Draft 1.0

Andrew Wiggins to Sixers at #3?

Andrew Wiggins to Sixers at #3?

 

With the NBA draft now eight days away the order in which players are selected is getting clearer although no one truly knows. Not the media, not the draft “experts”, and not even I can claim to know for sure how things will play out next Thursday night. Continue reading