Hello Reader! No, not Matt Read, you there, reading this article! My name is Joe Walker, the unofficial/official field reporter for the Broad Street Bully podcast. Before I get to this week’s news on the Philadelphia Flyers, I wanted to give you a brief introduction on the man behind the words. I graduated from Temple University in December 2015, and now work in IT, truly exciting stuff – Wow! You are probably really impressed by this already so I’ll keep this second part short.
I’m just a little obsessed with hockey. Since my bum knee has kept me from playing the sport competitively, I have turned some of my free time into analyzing, writing, and discussing everything I can about the Philadelphia Flyers (cold ones are usually involved). And that’s what has brought me here, to give my thoughts on how good (but probably awful) this team is on a week to week basis. No fake news, no alternative facts. Just pure, emotionally raw, steamy hot takes. Enjoy.
The NHL trade deadline came and went this past week. The Flyers didn’t see a whole lot of action, but they did make one move that stirred up some wind through the fan base.
Ron Hextall was able to move veteran d-man Mark Streit to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for center Valtteri Filppula, a 2017 4th round pick, and a conditional 7th round pick. Filppula adds some scoring depth as a decent two way veteran, and already picked up a goal for the Flyers in Thursday’s shootout win against the Panthers. I saw some back and forth banter on the pros and cons of this trade, but essentially the only con I find are the implications for the expansion draft.
Filppula’s contract goes through the 2017-2018 season at $5 million AAV. But it includes a no move clause, and unless he decides to wave it, the Flyers will be forced to protect him. This just means we lose one more forward on the protection list. So, we could leave the likes of Matt Read, Michael Raffl, Dale Weise, and Pierre Edouard Bellemare up for grabs. Is that really a bad thing? At $5 million a year (Mark Streit was $5.25 AAV by the way), we took a veteran that was going to be off the books this season, added scoring depth, and got picks. No harm, no foul in my mind. Small yet solid move by Hextall.
I guess I should mention the only other possible con to this deal being the flip by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman of Streit to Pittsburgh as a salary dump, but it’s Mark Streit guys…Mark Streit.*refusing to comment on Mark Streit’s first goal as a Penguin*
While this was the only ‘move’ made by Hextall before the trade deadline, we also had a pair of contract extensions take place. Fourth line center and new alternate captain, Pierre Bellemare, was given a 2 year, $2.9 million ($1.45 AAV) extension; a decent raise for a hard working shut down veteran. Goaltender Michael Neuvirth also inked a new 2 year, $5 million ($2.5 AAV) deal. Both of these moves, unfortunately, make sense.
On Bellemare, sure the stats aren’t there. But with the youth movement quickly approaching its time on the Flyers roster, we are going to need to keep around some stand up guys that know the system. It has been clear since day one on the job for Dave Hakstol that his 4th line is ‘untouchable’. Thus, we know he is not going to try to build a scoring 4th line like the Penguins have. It is strictly a shutdown line whose goal is to take away possession from the opposition. Bellemare may not be the best at that, but it’s a cheap move when considering leadership for all the league-minimum contracts that will be handed out in the next couple of seasons. As long as we don’t resign Chris Vandevelde, I am indifferent to this decision.
On Neuvirth, again, the stats aren’t there. I have been a Steve Mason apologist since he came to the Flyers in 2014. Constantly defending him from the usual fan base response to goaltenders in this city. And even with this questionable decision, I can make sense of it.
Neuvirth was the obvious choice when considering the cap. Mason would likely take an equal to slight increase in AAV for a shorter term, considering age. With that said, Neuvirth is going to get half, if not less, than what the front office would be forced to hand Mason. And even with Mason going on late season tears, the stats are still close enough to go with the cheaper option before the expansion. It is clear that our intention is to protect Anthony Stolarz in the upcoming draft. If we leave Neuvirth unprotected and he is taken by Las Vegas, then we will have the money/option to grab Mason – fast (draft is June 21st, free agency begins July 1st). If Neuvirth is not taken, we can then try to negotiate with Mason and see what happens from there. Right now, this deal solely makes sense from a financial standpoint, and for the future of the position in Anthony Stolarz.
Bold Prediction of the Week:
The Flyers are going to win 3 in a row, against the Sabres, Maple Leafs, and Bruins. Instilling playoff conversations into the fan base again.
Lauren Hart Wave of the Week:
Steve Mason, for putting the team on his back multiple times in his career here, dealing with the fans and the front office, and all the while being a pro about it.