Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Flyers Try Again To Find Elite Goaltender Trading For Rights To Bryzgalov

The Philadelphia Flyers had all the pieces of a championship team in 2010-11 except a goalie to get them to the promise land.  According to Bob Mckenzie the Flyers made a move in hopes of changing that fact by acquiring the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov in exchange for Matt Clackson, a 2012 3rd round pick and future considerations.  Bryzgalov would fill a long standing need within the Flyers organization giving them a legitimate frontline goalie for the first time since Ron Hextall was in net.

Bryzgalov might did not get the attention he deserved league wide because he was in Phoenix, but his numbers and game are among the elite in the league.  This past season he went 36-20-10 with a 2.48 goals against average and .921 save percentage.  If the Flyers can lock him up, which is an if given their current cap situation they will be a leading contender in the division and for the championship next season.  That will also partially depend on what the Flyers have to trade away to make room under the cap.

Video: Mark Messier Talks Leadership

Yesterday, Mark Messier visited with the "NHL on the Fly" the 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award.  During the discussion they announced that the finalists for the award are Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.  All three are quite deserving of being nominated and are great leaders.

The discussion went far beyond the award itself and into what makes a great leader.  Having Doug Weight and Kevin Weekes there made it even more interesting as they shared stories of having Messier as their captain.  Good stuff. 

Aaron Rome Suspended Four Game For Late Hit On Nathan Horton

Early in the first period of Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks delivered a late hit to Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins.  Horton was on the ice for several minutes before being taken out on a stretcher and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was held overnight and released today.  He was diagnosed with a severe concussion and his season was over.  All that was left to find out is what, if any, action the National Hockey League would take against Aaron Rome for his hit.  Now we know.

The NHL suspended Rome four games, thus ending the 2010-11 season for the defender.  If the series does not go the full 7 games, then the suspension will carry over into next year.  The NHL has been widely criticized this year for their failure to get many of the suspension cases right and the inconsistency with which they ruled.  This is one of the cases where they made the right call.  An illegal hit ended the season of Nathan Horton and now Aaron Rome’s season is done as well.  

The NHL cited both the lateness of the hit and severity of the outcome in the decision.
"Two factors were considered in reaching this decision," said NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. "The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck and it caused a significant injury."
Some will question whether factoring in the severity of the injury is the right move for the NHL to make.

Free Agent Preview: Is Ville Leino A Solution For Rangers Secondary Scoring Issues?

Al Bello/Getty Images
With less than a month left until the frenzy that is free agency begins and the New York Rangers will certainly be looking for offense when the market opens on July 1.  In looking ahead to the free agent market there have already been looks at Brad Richards for the first line center role, James Wisniewski as a puck-moving defender that could also aid the power play, Brooks Laich as a top-six forward and Simon Gagne as another potential cheap gamble and Anton Babchuk to be a bomber from the point.

With the Rangers need for offense being a priority the focus shifts back to the available forwards on the market this year with Ville Leino.  After struggling to consistently crack the Detroit Red Wings lineup Leino was moved to Philadelphia during the 2009-10 season where he found his legs at the NHL level.  During the Flyers run to the cup, Leino had seven goals and 14 assists in 19 games. 

The 27-year old Finnish forward built on his strong playoff run from the season before en route to a career year in which he posted 21 goals and 53 points in 81 games.  Not bad for a guy who had 11 goals and nine assists in 68 career regular season games coming into the 2010-11 season.  There is no question that Leino is due for a substantial raise from his current salary (825K), but there can be questions about whether Leino’s production is a sign that he has truly figured it out or if he has been very lucking playing with Daniel Briere since joining the Flyers.  Making that determination is the key to deciding if Leino could work here in New York.  If his production was a product of playing with Briere, then he is not a fit because he will be paid based on that production and unable to duplicate it as the Rangers do not have a player with Briere’s skill-set here.  If Leino’s stick-handling and playmaking abilities are deemed to have been the real cause along with greater opportunity to consistently play, then you are looking at a player growing into the NHL at the prime of his career.

With the Rangers likely having a void on left wing next year in their top six forwards a player like Leino who could potentially fit in on a second line is an intriguing option.  If the market has him closer to $3 rather than $4 million it is someone the Rangers should consider signing to create depth in the forward core.