Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
Welcome to the first edition of the 2015-2016 Pattison Ave mailbag. Every so often during the season, we’ll take your questions from Twitter and see if we can find some answers for you.
MATT: Soon. For one, the Flyers defense prospects are quite solid. We all know about the big 4 of Ghost, Provorov, Sanheim, Morin. Robert Hagg is right behind them and the forgotten Mark Friedman compares to Ryan Suter in terms of development. On the forward side, Travis Konecny, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Oskar Lindblom will soon start to threaten to take slots in the NHL lineup. If you want to really get excited for Lindblom, go check on the career of Daniel Alfredsson, whose Swedish League numbers are quite similar to Lindblom’s. Even if he doesn’t take the same development curve, Lindblom should at the very least end up a bottom six option like Bellmare. Ron Hextall’s patience should hopefully pay off, because when those guys hit the NHL, Umberger’s contract will have expired or been traded, Vinny will be expiring and the Flyers could sacrifice an asset (more below on this) to rid themselves of one Andrew MacDonald.
SCOTT: I think they’ll start to get better next year. They might not be a playoff team or a contender yet, but they’ll be right in the mix. I think it’s safe to say that at least two of our top defensive prospects will start the season in the NHL next year. Who knows, Travis Konecny might even win a spot out of camp next season. At the same time, the existent and solid core of forwards will still be in tact, and Steve Mason will still be in goal. It should be the first step in a successful on-the-fly rebuild.
@NHLFlyera @pattisonavenue @MathHappens51 Given the unlikelihood he is traded, can the Flyers justify benching AMac at any point? — Marcello C. De Feo (@marcellodefeo) September 29, 2015
MATT: Yes, since you said any point, during the last 2 years of the deal you can justify benching him. Before then, the Flyers would be best served to see if they can “rig” his minutes to make him look appealing to a team in hopes of suckering a team to trade for him. At this point, Ron should be calling everyone with a pricetag of “A-Mac and the Rinaldo 3rd for a 7th, no retained salary.”
SCOTT: I think it’s reasonable to say that he could be benched at some point. I’d say that benching him would affect his trade value, but let’s be honest, his trade value is nonexistent with that contract anyway. I think he can still play NHL-level hockey in a diminished role, but if someone is playing better, I won’t argue when they sit MacDonald.
MATT: Easy enough: Unit 1: Simmonds in front, Giroux on the LW half wall, Raffl in the slot, Streit up top and Voracek and the RW half wall. Unit 2: Couturier in front (like he did for Team Canada at the Worlds in May), Gagner on the LW half wall, B Schenn in the slot, MDZ up top and Read or Medvedev and the RW half wall. I’ve given up on Vinny or Umberger being useful, they’re fourth line talents now and should be treated as such. In Umberger’s case, he might rebuild some trade value if he stays healthy and moving the last year of his deal next summer to a floor team isn’t unlikely given what happened with Nick Grossmann this year. Sam Gagner on this unit should in theory open up more offense given he’s a right shot with solid playmaking ability. He’s not Giroux, but that’s why G28 is on PP1 and G89 on PP2.
SCOTT: I like Matt’s arrangement with one major exception. For now, I’d keep Brayden Schenn on the first unit. He had a lot of success there last season, and I don’t think he’s done anything to warrant moving him. I’d definitely give Yevgeni Medvedev a crack at playing up top on the second unit. He reads plays very well and could be a weapon from back there.
MATT: I’m honestly not convinced he ever becomes more than a fourth liner. His ceiling is a 3C who can PK at most based on his NHL equivalency expectations. He’s a poor man’s Brayden Schenn, well, the Flyers already have Brayden Schenn who’s the subject of a ton of criticism because of his draft status instead of his talent. To me, Laughton should be the 4C with Pebbles and VandeVelde on his wings and RJ and Vinny in the pressbox, but I doubt that happens. Of course, Laughton could go on a tear with the Phantoms and end up joining a small list of players who were sub-PPG in Juniors and became solid NHL players. That list in case you’re wondering is: Ryan Getzlaf, Wayne Simmonds, Milan Lucic, Ryan O’Reilly. To me, Laughton compares best, size wise, to O’Reilly and Simmonds, but he visually doesn’t have the game that appeals the way those two do. We all know how good Wayne is in front of the net and O’Reilly is one hell of a skater. To me, Laughton is the asset you give a team to make them take Andrew MacDonald.
SCOTT: I think he cracks the lineup as a third liner this season. Obviously given the developments through camp, he’s got a good chance of being on the roster to start the year. While I see Laughton as a guy who will probably be a third liner at the NHL level, I won’t completely write him off as a top 6 guy quite yet.
MATT: Tyrell Goulbourne. Thanks, Holmgren, you left Anthony Duclair on the board for this.
SCOTT: There will never be another one. Plain and simple.
MATT: Yes. I did some quick math on Read to account for the decline caused by his ankle injury and would estimate he lost 13-15 goals last season due to injury. So, 3.5M for a near 20-25 goal scorer who can PK quite well, he’ll be a bargain next year. Side note, 3.5M is just under 5% of the total salary cap. Given a 23 man roster, that’s only slightly above an average distribution. Read’s money, by itself, isn’t significant.
SCOTT: I think he bounces back. Three years of great two-way play and possession statistics are telling me that Read’s injury really held him back last season. If he struggles again, it’s definitely possible that management decides he isn’t a guy who will be part of the future here. He could end up on the trade block. I do expect him to bounce back, though.
@pattisonavenue @MathHappens51 @NHLFlyera When is HACKstol going back to @college? — Evening The Score (@ETSPhilly) September 29, 2015
MATT: I believe I’ll leave this answer to Scott, our resident @college expert. Hopefully Scott’s wife hasn’t left him and his large adult sons are not causing trouble.
SCOTT: Alongside new Longhorns football coach Chip Kelly, Dave Hakstol will probably be joining the University of Texas next season after his gimmick offense is quickly figured out.