2010-2011 Flyers Season Preview Concludes: Forwards
In: Nikolai Zherdev, Jody Shelley
Out: Simon Gagne, Arron Asham
The Simon Gagne trade was simply a sad byproduct of the salary cap era. In the old days, Gags would likely have retired as a Flyer. Teams just can’t always operate that way anymore. Though roster decisions are the norm now and sometimes veteran players need to be moved in order to allow younger ones to blossom.
And boy do the Flyers have some interesting young guys in the fold. The first two years of Claude Giroux’s NHL career have been a bit odd. You normally expect a young guy to fold as the pressure of the season increases, but not Giroux. He’s had ok regular seasons, good not great, but tinged with flashes of brilliance here and there. However, when the post season rolls around, the man they call “G” takes off. Giroux is already a proven clutch performer and a dependable two-way player at the tender age of BLANK, now he just needs to get his act together to ensure his team makes it past the regular season and into the NHL’s main event.
Hopefully former #2 overall pick James van Riemsdyk can build on his good, but wildly inconsistent rookie campaign. It was clear last year that JVR just ran out of gas as the season rolled on and he struggled mightily down the stretch. Not that anyone should have been surprised by that. Inconsistency is the name of the game for most rookies, as they settle into the NHL. After last season’s deep playoff run, it seems safe to assume that JVR’s pretty well settled in at this point. Now its time to see what the young guy from New Jersey can really do.
The continued development of those two, coupled with bounce back years from captain Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnel, 82 games of Ville Leino and a healthy (and scarily motivated) Danny Briere should, in theory, offset the loss of Gagne.
Well that and this year’s KHL reclamation project. Last year’s Ray Emery experiment was a brilliant plan, but failed in practice due to unforeseen circumstances. Barring a similar problem, this year’s addition of the enigmatic, but highly talented Zherdev could turn out to be a massive steal. Zherdev has one year to prove that he can make it in the NHL or he could find himself headed back to the Russian front for good. New enforcer Jody Shelley should bring some more character to the locker room and will probably only step foot on the ice to lay some beat downs on the Rangers and Maple Leafs. Veteran try out Bill Guerin can only bring positive things to the team, provided that he’s still around after training camp.
The Flyers have one of the deepest and most talented collection forwards in the league and because of that, losing Gagne shouldn’t be the crippling blow that some of the more pessimistic out there make it seem. The Flyers forward crew possesses a remarkable blend of youth and experience, offense and defense. The Flyers can roll three strong offensive units at opponents and then put the criminally underrated shut down line of Blair Betts, Ian Laperriere and (Fill in the Blank) on the ice to close things out.
On Paper Grade: B+
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