I don’t envy new Flyers’ general manager Daniel Briere at all. He’s trying to fix this team as best he can from the mess that Chuck Fletcher left it in. It’s almost like putting together a jigsaw puzzle that someone mixed four or five different sets together first and put them all in the same box. You gotta sort it all out before you can put it all together. That’s gonna be a big problem. And part of that problem is sorting out the defense.
The Flyers recalled defensive prospect Egor Zamula for the fourth time this year. He’s played in 11 games this year with two assists. He has appeared in 23 games overall for his career and he will turn 23 at the end of the month.
The Flyers are really high on him. Not hard to understand why. He’s 6’5″ but fast. He is not a major scorer on defense, not like Cam York anyway, but he has shown that he can move the puck well and rack up some scores when needed. He is highly regarded as one of the pieces for the future moving forward.
And that’s the problem right now. The Flyers have eight defenders on their roster, counting Zamula. So, who’s out? Well, let’s take a look at who’s here?
Justin Braun rarely plays. He’s probably doing some coaching work with the younger blueliners, but it was a mistake to bring him back and not use him. It was also a mistake to try to not move him for anything at the deadline. He deserves better than that.
Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov are both overpaid and underperforming. They may also have fragile egos. Sitting them should wake them up a bit, but it hasn’t worked well in the past.
Rasmus Ristolainen is also overpaid, but has actually improved his game this year. He has responded to being called out by John Tortorella and has risen to the occasion. Likewise, Tony DeAngelo has been in the doghouse a few times, and has also risen up when challenged, but as quickly falls back down again.
If you are talking about consistency, Nick Seeler has been the most consistent all season. He doesn’t rack up points, but he is not committing major mistakes also. He is also the least paid of the veteran players as well.
If Zamula is up, then he needs to be in the lineup to show what he has to offer. Same with Cam York. And if you are going with six defenders, then I’d keep Ristolainen and Seeler as they have been coming to play every day. That leaves some sort of rotation of Sanheim, Provy, and DeAngelo for those last two spots. Braun, let’s be honest, isn’t going to be seeing any time on the ice.
Bringing up Zamula makes sense. Not playing him doesn’t. And let’s not forget…Ronnie Attard and Emil Andrae might be lurking right around the corner in the near future as well.
The Flyers have dumped a ton of money into their defensive players. It is a squad of players that is underperforming as a whole. They’ve given us a mixed bag of results all year. Someone is going to have to sit. Someone may be moved in the offseason. Again, I don’t envy Briere.