The Flyers continue to revamp their defense, trading for Janne Niskala from Nashville.
Unlike previous seasons, Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be going after the big free-agent names (although we’ll see what happens with that next week). Instead, the Flyers, who made it to the second round of the playoffs, are modestly upgrading their slow blueline. Even trading away forward R.J. Umberger might not dramatically reduce their offense if Simon Gagne is healthy next season.
Jean Lefebvre weighs in on Alex Tanguay’s time with the Flames. Lefebvre points out Tanguay’s numbers dipped last season because of his use as more of a two-way forward. Tanguay killed penalties and spent less time on the powerplay. The sad part is, Lefebvre wonders if Tanguay being a more versatile player, but one who isn’t putting up gaudy numbers, made him feel he wasn’t earning his salary. When will people finally feel solid defense has contract value?
What the heck is Joe Sakic doing that he doesn’t know if he’ll return to the NHL until after July 1? Is he waiting on a package or something? One of the many reasons I hated Mark Messier during his second twirl through New York is that he would pull this same thing every season, not revealing if he was coming back until late in the summer. Of course, when Messier pulled this, there was no salary cap. Now, with the Avs forced to put money aside for a player who might not show up, Sakic could torpedo the Avs before the season even starts.
How far has goalie Andrew Raycroft fallen? He won the Calder at the end of the 2003-04 season and yesterday, just four years later, he was placed on waivers. I always wondered if the pressure of winning the Calder followed by the lockout got into Raycroft’s head. He really never got to prove he deserved the trophy and maybe that froze him a little bit.
Kevin Allen has a nice story about new Tampa coach Barry Melrose. What Melrose lacks in coaching and technology skills he definitely makes up for in people skills.