It’s not summer in Philadelphia until the Flyers rumors begin. Every single year, I feel like Ed Snider and Co. are the NHL’s annual version of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Los Angeles and Philadelphia are talking once again after a year-long hiatus. This time, the main subject of the rumored deal is backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Bernier came into the league as a regular in the 2010-11 season. For a backup, his career has been closely followed, mostly because he is Luigi and Jonathan Quick is Mario. Scouts believe he has the potential to be a No. 1 goaltender, but his small sampling of games (62 GP, 54 GS, 29-20-6, 2.36 GAA) is not enough to persuade me.
The initial alleged deal involved Flyers’ winger Matt Read for Bernier. I’m sure other pieces were thrown around, but Read and maybe a mid-level, low risk pick (third-rounder maybe) would be able to pry Bernier from Hollywood. Tuesday afternoon, Flyers’ beat writer Tim Panaccio threw some gasoline on the fire by tweeting that the Kings would likely want winger Jakub Voracek in the Bernier deal. Yup. My reaction too.
If I’m Paul Holmgren, I’m telling Dean Lombardi, the Kings’ general manager, to pound sand if he thinks Voracek will be included in this deal. Throw in Anze Kopitar and I’d consider it.
The original deal with Read and another piece for Bernier? I would be able to live with that swap. Read has become one of my favorite players in the past two years. He plays his tail off and his skill set allows head coach Peter Laviolette to play him in almost any situation, but the Read-for-Bernier deal could be a potential steal for the Flyers.
Bernier is only 24 and has much room to improve on his game. The tandem with Steve Mason could also push either one of those two to work even harder for the starting job. All of the speculation, however, is exactly what it is… Speculation. Ilya Bryzgalov is still with the team and Holmgren has said the soon to be 33-year-old will stay with the team.
Read is 27 years old and has probably reached the peak in production. He is also due a hefty salary raise after his contract expires next season. The Flyers have a history of drafting good forwards (see Giroux, Claude; Richards, Mike and Couturier, Sean for reference) and history tells us the scouting department can find someone to fill the void. Remember how scoring was an issue before the 2011-12 season? Philadelphia’s minor league system is also full of players itching to have a cup of coffee with the big boys.
Scott Laughton played impressively in the first five games of the season despite not registering a single point. His regular-season statistics were decent – 56 points in 49 games – , but Laughton stepped up his game in the playoffs with 13 points in seven games.
If Nick Cousins can continue to improve off last season Ontario Hockey League, he could find himself wearing a Flyers sweater in the near future. Jason Akeson is a character guy who played well in his NHL debut, but I would need to see him play more games at the NHL level.
(H/T to OrangeAndBlackPack.com for organizing this you-know-what storm of rumors)