MORE RUMOURS DU JOUR: The Philadelphia Flyers’ reasonable depth on defence will permit them to muddle along without Chris Pronger in the near term, which is the prudent course of action for general manager Paul Holmgren. For now, the Flyers can determine which defencemen in their organization may be ready for prime time duty, while relying on Kimmo Timmonen, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn and Andrej Meszaros to do the heavy lifting in the present. But Pronger has an annual salary cap hit of $4.9-million and the news that he will not return again this season as a result of severe post-concussion syndrome will free up that money for Holmgren to spend eventually, as long as they put him (and keep him) on the long-term injured reserve list.
Much of the early speculation centered on Holmgren trying to hit a home run by landing either Ryan Suter or Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators. The Predators truly believe that they can sign both to contract extensions and will only move one or the other if it becomes clear to them that they cannot. That isn’t going to happen until March at the earliest, and logically, not at all, given how hard the Predators went after Pekka Rinne’s signature on a contract earleir this season.
In Philadelphia, the fallback position is usually a deal with Carolina, where the Hurricanes have some pending unrestricted free agents, including Bryan Allen, the one-time Vancouver Canucks defenceman, who at 6-foot-5 would at least meet the size requirement to replace Pronger. Tim Gleason, the player that Carolina picked up years ago for the rights to Jack Johnson, is a far more complete player, one of the real underrated defensive defenceman, who can quietly eat up about 21 minutes of playing time per night.
The year the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup final against the Chicago Blackhawks, coach Peter Laviolette played four defencemen almost exclusively, and it exacted a toll on his blueline. Since then, he’s been far more willing to rotate six, so that someone like Timmonen, who topped at a 24:31 average in the ’09 season, was playing around 22 per night for the Flyers. Only Pronger, in limited playing time, was logging more ice time than Timonen.
So for Holmgren, if the home run (Weber, Suter) isn’t there, then the logical and likely alternative will be to land a depth player much closer to the trading deadline. Carolina will be taking his calls and at some point, enough time will click off Cory Sarich’s $3.6-million annual cap hit in Calgary to warrant some interest as well.
RUMOURS DU JOUR (2): So how much difference is there between Turris (6 foot 1, 185 pounds, third overall in 2007 to Phoenix) and Derick Brassard (6 foot 1, 199 pounds, sixth overall in 2006 to Columbus)? Right, not much at all, right down to the fact that both are represented by big-time disgruntled agents, unhappy with the way their clients are being deployed.
In many ways, Turris and Brassard are the same player, facing the same career options, not playing (much) for their current teams and looking for a new home. Brassard represents an interesting bit of trade bait for the improving Blue Jackets, who are loath to dump a 24-year-old who once scored 116 points in 58 games for the QMJHL's Drummondville Voltigeurs, in part because it is hard to get good value in return for a player your coach won’t play; has a miserable plus-minus rating and is thought of as too soft to be a genuine No. 1 centre. Teams see Turris, they see Brassard, they see their upside and then they think of Matt Stajan’s career trajectory and get cautious. Stay tuned. The other shoe has to drop eventually.