With Tuesday’s unfortunate news of Andrej Meszaros and yesterday’s signing of Marc-Andre Bourdon, the outlook of the defensive core of the Flyers has changed drastically. You cannot pretend that this isn’t bad news for fans, but for young guys currently in the farm system of the Flyers, this is good news.
The Flyers have been criticized in the past for throwing everything they had to get one guy in order to content for the Cup that season. We all know how often they trade draft picks. And while Chris Pronger was an outstanding addition in 2009, we would be silly to believe that he’ll be making a comeback.
Things are changing. The team has untouchables like Couturier, Giroux, and B. Schenn. It’s hard for fans to look at the bigger picture and not worry about winning right now, but this may be what’s best.
Here’s the bad news: Kimmo Timonen’s contract ends after this season as does Andreas Lilja’s, Andrej Meszaros may not see a single regular season game, we lost Matt Carle, and Chris Pronger is no closer to making a comeback than he was last year.
If you don’t know already, I have a thing for defensemen so getting a chance to see what the Flyers are going to do now is somewhat exciting.
Last month I wrote about how defensive depth was somewhat of a curse, but it’s looking like it’s about to become a blessing. Sure, right now the only young guy on the roster for defense is Bourdon, but losing Carle and Meszaros getting injured makes the other guys closer.
But of course, every single good defenseman is not going to get a chance with the Flyers. That’s where the interesting part comes in. There are a lot of Erik Gustafsson fans out there, and this could very well be his time to finally prove himself. Maybe the Flyers will let him work as the Phantoms number one defenseman to see just how good he is with consistent playing time or maybe he’ll be waiting in the wings as a healthy scratch for the Flyers ready to step in if/when another injury occurs.
Then we start to shift towards next season right away for defense. It’s all about development. Sure, next summer the Flyers could make a trade for a dman or sign one, but you have to use what you already have sometimes. So we will see who sticks around in the system and who is trusted to be a part of the future.
Solid defensemen are hard to come by, and despite a lot of fans and writers being negative about developing them rather than acquiring them, it should be considered as at least a small part of the solution.
Brandon Manning did really well in the NHL action that he saw last season, and Blake Kessel is just chomping at the bit to get a chance to do the same. We have guys. It’s all about Bourdon right now, but it’s starting to become about other young and possibly capable defensemen too. Time will tell, but for now we can scout as fans and predict what will or we think should happen.
Go to rookie camp and watch the defensemen on the ice. Catch a Phantoms game somewhere if possible and read up on highly touted guys like Oliver Lauridsen. Defense isn’t glamorous, but because of its importance, it’s still fun to pay attention to. And that is what I believe is the good part behind all the unfortunate recent developments. We can become more familiar with our team’s depth chart and hopefully begin to give Gustafsson, Manning, Kessel, and Lauridsen a chance.