Friday, February 12, 2016

Losing Sbisa stings; Flyers draft 2 goalies

I applaud Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren for his moxie, for going out on a proverbial limb and trying to win a championship this season.

Losing Sbisa stings; Flyers draft 2 goalies


   I applaud Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren for his moxie, for going out on a proverbial limb and trying to win a championship this season.

   Chris Pronger, whom Holmgren acquired from Anaheim Friday, is just the type of physical defenseman the Flyers needed to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
    But the Flyers paid too much.
    The Ducks received Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two No. 1 draft picks and a conditional third-round selection.

    Sources tell me the St. Louis Blues made a late bid to acquire Pronger, and that may have caused the Flyers to "up" their offer.

    Trading Lupul, a 25-goal scorer last season, was actually beneficial because his big contract ($4.25 million during each of the next four years) was weighing down the Flyers’ salary cap. And I can understand that giving the two No. 1 picks was necessary to acquire a player of Pronger’s stature.
     But including Sbisa in the deal is what I don’t like.
    Sbisa, 19, spent about half of last season as one of the Flyers’ regular defensemen _ and he showed poise beyond his years and was one of the team’s best skaters. The kid looks like he’ll be a star someday.
    In short, this deal would look a lot more attractive if the Flyers had included one of their other defensive prospects instead of Sbisa.
   That said, assuming Pronger, 34, signs an extension on his one-year contract _ all signs point to that happening _ the Flyers should battle the Penguins and Bruins for Eastern Conference supremacy in the next few years.
   And maybe, just maybe, bring Philly its first Cup since 1975.
* * * * *

    The Flyers continued their Great Goalie Search Saturday by selecting goaltenders Adam Morrison (third round) and Nicola Riopel (fifth round) in the NHL draft.
    The raw-but-promising Morrison was taken with the club’s first pick in the draft.
    For those scoring at home, the Flyers have now selected 23 goalies in the last 16 drafts. They have not had one of their drafted goalies turn into their No. 1 netminder since Ron Hextall, who was selected in the sixth round (119th overall) in the 1982 draft.
    A look at the Flyers’ picks:

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   Adam Morrison, Goalie (6-3, 166 pounds), 18 years old _ selected in the third round (81st overall).

  Comment: Had a 9-1-1 record, 2.47 GAA and .907 save percentage in 13 appearances for Saskatoon in the Western Hockey League.
    Simon Bertilsson, Defenseman (6-0 185), 18 years old _ selected in the third round (87th overall).

   Comment: Ranked 17th among international skaters by the Central Scouting Bureau, the hard-nosed Bertilsson is a defensive-minded defenseman who managed 31 points in 30 games in the Swedish Junior Elite League.
   Nicola Riopel, Goalie (6-0 170), 20 years old _ fitfh round (142d).

   Comment: Posted a 43-15 record, 2.01 GAA and .931 save percentage in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League _ and was named the league’s MVP.

   Dave Lebrecque, Center (6-0 174), 19 years old _ sixth round (153d).

 Comment: In his first full season in the QMJHL, Labrecque recorded 61 points (13 goals, 48 assists) in 59 games and was a plus-23.
   Eric Wellwood, LW (5-11 179), 19 years old _ sixth round (172d).
Comment: Playing for Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League, he had 16 goals and 18 assists in 61 regular-season games, then notched 10 goals and 11 assists in the playoffs to lead the Spitfires to the title.
   Oliver Lauridsen, D (6-6 220), 20 years old _ seventh round (196th).
  Comment: The only Denmark native taken in the draft, the towering Lauridsen recorded one assist and 38 penalty minutes in 28 games as a freshman at St. Cloud State in the Western Collegiate Association.
_ Sam Carchidi

Staff Writer
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