Over the past two games the Flyers have put on a confusing performance reminiscent of their more inconsistent patches. After a 5 game win streak against some of the toughest teams in the league, the Flyers have dropped 2 games in regulation. But we’re not here to talk about the worrying lack of effort we’ve seen recently or if they need rest or if someone is too old for the team, what we are going to talk about is the good news about the direction the Flyers are looking to take in the future.
For a while one of the big complaints about the Flyers front office was that they have no direction, no idea what the identity of this team should be. The mentality was to win now, get big name players and damn the core to hell for the purpose of short term contracts. The front office was making moves like they would all be out of the job soon and didn’t really mind what mess they left behind. But rejoice fellow fans, it does seem like Holmgren has slipped into a period of lucidity where he finally sees moves that are more than just “Let’s win now and blow up the team to acquire players that might do it.”
A couple of prospect moves have been made and while they aren’t coming straight to the NHL roster, they do show an interesting trend in Flyers management thought processes. Paul Holmgren made a few moves to bolster the AHL Phantoms, the Flyers farm team. The contracts will hopefully let the prospects develop until they’re ready to come onto the Flyers roster and help us out, or get traded to another team to forever haunt us and hand us multiple losses.
Defense has been a huge problem for the Flyers for years, right? Well the most recent draft the Flyers took at least one step to remedy that with the acquisition of Robert Hagg. This is Elite Hockey Prospects description of Hagg:
“A very all-round two-way defenseman. Hägg is capable of playing a pure defensive role, logging big minutes on the penalty kill, as well as contributing offensively and being valuable in power play situations. Furthermore, Hägg has good size and strength, very good vision, a heavy release and is also a mobile defenseman. Some consistency issues, although Hägg usually makes smarter plays while playing in the big league, rather than in the juniors. Lots of potential.”
What else could we say about Hagg? Hagg was projected to be picked somewhere in the first round of the 2013 draft, the Flyers picked him up in the second round 41st overall which pretty much everybody (after initial anger and confusion) agreed was a damn steal. There are some … negative aspects of his play that some spoil sports insist on pointing out including inconsistent performance (The Flyers are already used to inconsistency he’ll fit in perfectly) not being a phenomenal skater, but hey he’s a work in progress and is expected to do good things should his AHL time push him to develop further.
On March 21st a report that was all in Swedish so you wouldn’t understand it, was confirmed that the Flyers had signed Hagg to an entry level contract and he will be finishing his season with the Adirondack Phantoms. The contract will start next season. My favorite description of Hagg’s style of play comes from Hockey’s Future: “…carries himself as if he’s unimpressed with the opposition.”
But the defense isn’t the only thing they’ve been paying attention to this week! The Flyers have also signed college player Kevin Goumas. The 22 year old is coming from playing at University of New Hampshire to a tryout for the rest of this season and an AHL only contract for the 2014-15 season.
The 5foot 10 senior lead his UNH team with 33 assists and 52 overall points in 40 games and is getting a lot of comparisons to current Flyers forward Matt Read. Holmgren had only good things to say about Goumas and has expectations for his AHL performance.
“He’s a kid we like,” Holmgren said. “Where it goes in terms of NHL, who knows? But he’s got good speed, hockey sense and skill. He’s not a great big guy, but we certainly feel like he can help us right now for the Phantoms.”
Holmgren also commented on Goumas’ similarities to Matt Read ,who has become a top performer in the Flyers lineup, saying “I would say offensively there’s some similarities there … Matt’s a little bit thicker than this young man. But who knows? He’s in the organization, it’s for us to watch now and see how he does.”
The future for the Flyers is starting to look brighter than just temporary big names and a non-existent high skilled core.