As the season gets closer and closer we get more excited for the Flyers to get back on the ice and despite some obvious problems, we as fans have high hopes for the Flyers. But there are always issues, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. The biggest question mark has been veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Since he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and calf back in August, Timonen’s return has been questionable to say the least. Since his original diagnosis and treatment, there have been back and forth ideas. The treatments went well, we know that much, but what we still don’t know is if Timonen will be able to play. Sometimes it seems like the organization is suggesting he could play later in the season while other times they seem to think he’ll have to retire. All this speculation of course is not taking into account Timonen’s decision, if he CAN play and if he WILL play are two different things, he may decide it’s too risky for him.
“There’s no question, it’s a setback; there’s no other way to explain it,” Hextall said. “We’ll do what we can to make the team better. We’ve been looking at a few things for the last few weeks and this will probably expedite something.” Hextall told Tim Panaccio in an interview back when Timonen was first diagnosed.
That plan turned out to be signing Michael Del Zotto, which a lot of people seem to … dislike. I’d like to hold out on calling Del Zotto a bust just yet possibly because i remeber snippets of his rookie season and the 2011-2012 season. Even after declining from his rookie year and ending up a 3rd pairing dman in NY, it was thought he could improve under a coach who allowed him more ice time. Too bad he got traded to Nashville. It’s not a huge risk for the Flyers and if he does have a Steve Mason type surge in his play, then this could work out pretty damn well. He’s only 24 and right now he’s only got a cheap ($1.3mil) one year contract, and with our current defensive lineup how bad could adding MDZ hurt? It can’t. Some people, however remain completely against the MDZ signing hoping for some other miracle to pop into the defense. The only other option is one that pretty much everyone who knows how hockey works is against; calling up the prospects.
Hey they’re young and they’re supposedly good so why don’t we just put them in the defense. Stop stop saying that. We get it, you’re excited to see the new talent play so is everyone, but the truth is that they’re just not ready for NHL level play. The Flyers for as long as I can remember have had the same “win now” attitude that meant sacrificing pieces that could give us a strong long term core. Having prospects come up expected to be the answers to all our problems is in that same win now mindset. What will happen is they’ll be brought up underwhelm people and public opinion will turn on them and so will the organizations opinions too. Then they get traded away and either disappear or develop into #1 defensemen who win 4 Stanley Cups. The prospects need to develop and Hextall has agreed. Hopefully the problems on defense don’t make Hextall reconsider his stance on the prospects. There are people talking about the Flyers latest draft class as if they’re about to get an NHL spot, it’s ridiculous they are a few years away from appearing in a Flyers jersey, hopefully.
Speaking of the prospects, the Flyers rookie camp started last Saturday. Apparently there’s a vast difference between the training camp tempo this year and last year’s training camp that eventually led to a slow start for the Flyers and the changing of head coaches. First time rookie camp participant Shayne Gostisbehere impressed Berube early.
“The way he gets up the ice and skates, he’s so smooth, it’s hard not to notice him,” said Berube. “But there’s a lot of guys that do different things for a hockey team and each individual has his own thing.”
Scott Laughton also noted the difference between this training camp and 2 months ago, “There’s a way higher intensity and guys are going a lot harder.” Laughton said of the Day 1 regiment. If any rookies are going to break into the Flyers lineup this season Laughton is a good bet.
The rookies got a little extra help from Chris Pronger who made an appearance and spent some time giving the defense some advice, especially 2013 first round pick Sam Morin. Morin is continually compared to Pronger so it only makes sense that Pronger would take him under his wing and impart a little defensive wisdom on him. Morin would be smart to take in as much as he can from the former #1 defenseman. Looking to the future, Morin could be an exciting idea and a little ray of hope for the Flyers blue line.
“I spoke to him about nutrition and training,” said Pronger. “Then we started talking about hockey and we spoke about intensity and harnessing that intensity and passion and anger into a positive and using it to be unpredictable on the ice and keep opponents off-kilter.”
The rookie game against the Capitals offers us a first chance to see some of the prospects in action. Try not to get too excited to see them regularly.