Inside Legein Trade; Asham on Top Line

Philadelphia Flyers right wing Arron Asham celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

As many of you know, the Flyers acquired right winger Stefan Legein yesterday from the Columbus Blue Jackets. I caught up with Legein yesterday while he was making his way from Syracuse to Glens Falls, N.Y. I think you will be able to appreciate his story.

You may think it’s just a silly swap of minor leaguers, but I think the Flyers know what they’re doing here. I watched Legein lead Canada to the World Junior title live in the Czech Republic just a few days into 2008.

I know that he is a special player – and a gifted scorer. He has the perfect Philadelphia personality, too, when his heart is into it.

Tell me what you think… I know Mike Ratchuk is a good player, but he is a dime-a-dozen in the Flyers’ farm system … can they go wrong bringing in a guy like Legein? I really wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the Flyers’ call-ups this season.

But I wanted to get back to Arron Asham. Focusing on Legein, I didn’t have enough space to expand on Asham in the paper.

Asham never expected to be one of the odd men out when the Flyers dropped the puck on the 2009-10 season.

He told me that you always know there are more players than spots, but you never think you’re going to be the one watching from the press box. But that's where he was for the first 3 games.

As we know well around here, though, injuries happen during the grind of the NHL season.

Luckily for Asham, both Blair Betts and James van Riemsdyk went down just three games in. If not for that, Asham may still be sitting out – the Flyers started 3-0 and had no reason to change the lineup.

Rather than sulk, Asham worked hard – including things like a bag skate in Carolina after his teammates had gone home to rest for the season opener.

Since he has gotten into the lineup, he has brought a ton of energy to the Flyers’ offense. He scored his first goal of the season on Friday, where he was the Flyers’ best player on the ice.

“It really hit me out of nowhere,” Asham said. “I hadn’t been a healthy scratch in a long time. I definitely feel a lot better now. [Being scratched] motivated me to work harder.”

He will be skating with Simon Gagne and Mike Richards on Thursday night against Boston, on what may be the Flyers’ top line.

That’s a big jump, no?

Truthfully, the Flyers are still searching for a replacement for Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul. There is no one on this team that can replace “Knuby.”

But Gagne sees no reason why Asham can’t play with them.

“Arron is a type of guy who will go in front of the net,” Gagne said. “He will give me and Richie a chance to play with more space. He will keep the puck on his stick longer; I’m the type of guy that likes to get open. People will be surprised, he’s got more skill than people think.”

Gagne hasn’t scored yet this reason. Watching Asham in practice everyday, his hands are much better than he gets credit for. He can skate, plays a physical style, and can pass.

Before everyone jumps on me, let me say that Asham isn’t the Flyers’ best player. But plugging Claude Giroux back into the middle with van Riemsdyk and Ian Laperriere really balances out the lines.

Why can’t he work in that combo? And if he doesn’t, what’s the worst that can happen? Gagne goes another game without scoring?

Asham knows that he needs to make the most of his opportunities. With Betts due back in the lineup as soon as Thursday – but more likely this weekend – Asham can be back in the press box as quick as he jumped to the top line.

Flyers coach John Stevens says he hasn’t thought ahead yet to what he might do with the lineup when Betts returns.

Here were the lines from practice:

Asham – Richards - Gagne
Hartnell – Carter – Briere
Van Riemsdyk – Giroux – Laperriere
Pyorala – Powe – Carcillo

Extras: Cote – Betts

How would you tinker with the lines?