Yesterday, I covered free agent goalies, because I think that’s our most glaring need. Adding another defenseman (or two) to the mix would be a huge help as well. Of course team defense relies more on the entire 5-man unit that’s on the ice, but when you have individuals that create a liability, that’s a problem. During the regular season, the Flyers’ bottom pair of defensemen were fine. But once the playoffs rolled around, those guys couldn’t be trusted enough. So, who do we replace them with?
Here’s the list of the top guys, followed by who I’d be ok with:
- Sergei Gonchar
- Dan Hamhuis
- Paul Martin
- Anton Volchenkov
- Pavel Kubina
- Willie Mitchell
- Henrik Tallinder
- Aaron Ward
- Brett Lebda
- Derek Morris
- Jordan Leopold
- Mark Eaton
- Kim Johnsson
I’ll take any of the top 4 guys on that list, in addition to Morris, Leopold, and Johnsson. I know Gonchar is up there in age, but look at his effectiveness. He can still play big minutes, and still puts up big offensive numbers. We had the rights to Hamhuis, couldn’t agree on a deal, and traded him. Still, if he does hit the market, maybe he realizes that the Flyers were giving him a fair offer and he signs. He was a top-4 d-man in Nashville, a team that that’s success is based on defense. Paul Martin has been a mainstay on the Devils for a long time. He doesn’t add too much to the offense, but I don’t care, as long as he keeps the puck out of our net. He’s 29, and is probably #1 on my list to go after.
Volchenkov throws his body around like a mad man. He hits everything in sight, and pursues the puck relentlessly. He was one of the few bright spots on Team Russia in the Olympics. And for a team that still gets compared to the Broad Street Bullies of the 70’s, we haven’t had a bone-crushing defenseman in a long time. It’s about time to change that a bit. Morris was coveted at the trade deadline either last season or the year before, because of what he can add to the offense. he’s played on some pretty bad teams most of his career, but his +/1 rating is still pretty decent. Even if he’s more offensive, he can give Timonen a break on the powerplay, and let him save his energy for defense. Leopold mostly played in the West, so I didn’t see too much of him. I just remember a few years back when Calgary was making playoff runs that he was a standout player. At 29 years old, I think he can add a lot.
Finally, the sentimental pick is Kim Johnsson. Originally acquired when we dealt Lindros to the Rangers, he was the best of the three players that we received in return. He became our best defenseman for the few years that he was here. He did everything we asked for, and we loved him. He was injured the last season before the lockout with a concussion, and the Flyers brass was afraid that he wouldn’t be the same player when he came back. So we let him go, and we were wrong. He played for the Wild and his numbers went down, but then again, so does everyone else’s when the coach is Jacques Lemaire. He had 3 points in an 8 game stint with the Blackhawks this past season (injuries kept him from playing more). So now he’s free, and potentially overlooked. I’d take the risk, if he’s healthy enough. And for those who have forgotten him, here’s a little reminder:
Finally, the following image has nothing to do with this post. I randomly found it, and I think it’s pretty funny. So here it is, for your viewing pleasure: Ian Laperriere and Dan Carcillo.
Tags: Aaron Ward Anton Volchenkov Brett Lebda Chicago Blackhawks Dan Carcillo Dan Hamhuis Derek Morris Free Agents Henrik Tallinder Ian Laperriere Jacques Lemaire Jordan Leopold Kim Johnsson Mark Eaton Minnesota Wild New York Rangers Paul Martin Pavel Kubina Philadelphia Flyers Sergei Gonchar Willie Mitchell