August 26, 2009 1 Comment
Chris Pronger-Braydon Coburn
Kimmo Timonen-Matt Carle
Ryan Parent-Ole-Kristian Tollefsen
Key Departures: Luca Sbisa, Andrew Alberts
Key Acquisitions: Chris Pronger, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen
Up and coming: Danny Syvret
Everybody get on the bandwagon!
The best top-three defense in the East. Yes, I just said that.
Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen have ten All-Star games between them. Timonen was recently named the top Finnish defenseman by NHL.com. Pronger has a Norris Trophy, a Hart Trophy and the most important trophy, a Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Braydon Coburn has yet to garner any league awards, but is one of the most effective and underrated defenders in the league.
Pronger is a team leader, one who can dominate an opponent offensively and defensively. He can deliver a bone-crunching check, then start a breakout the other way. One of the best in the league, he consistently shows he is not close to slowing down at this point in his NHL career.
Timonen has been the Flyers’ top defender since his arrival a few years ago. Aside from his great offensive stats, he also has shown that he is an unbelievable defender. He is a master of defending a two-on-one, in which he does his trademark dive; he blocks both a pass and a shot in one movement. Many have tried to duplicate this move. Many have failed.
Matt Carle is coming to and may be reaching his potential in the next year or two. He has the capability to be an effective top-four defender this season, yet must work extremely hard throughout training camp to show that he is ready to take a bigger role on the team.
Ryan Parent showed random flashes of brilliance last season after returning from an injury, while Randy Jones struggled much of the season. Yet, both players have the potential to succeed and could very well break out this season.
The new addition of Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will add another physical aspect to the Flyers’ defensive corps.
No thanks, I’m staying back:
The Flyers have had numerous problems in the past with signing older players based on past stats as opposed to what they can do for them now. Pronger looks to be an aberration, a player who can still contribute in his older NHL years, yet one can never be sure.
Randy Jones had a very poor year last year, both statistically and on the defensive side of the puck. Perhaps because of his injury, he looked like he was having trouble performing on the ice.
Losing Luca Sbisa is a huge blow to an organization starving for their first home-grown defensive prospect since Ben Wilson. Getting Pronger in return is clearly a great deal, but in four to five years when Pronger is retired and Sbisa is a cheap top-three defenseman for the Ducks, will the trade look as good as it did this summer? Simple answer: if Philly wins the Cup, yes. If not, no.
That seems to be how we judge every move now, doesn’t it?
Keys to success:
-Finding defense pairings that maximize the potential of the top three defenders
-Getting Jones, Parent and Carle to hit their strides
-Don’t be afraid to take the body
-Don’t be afraid to take a hit to make a play
-Learn from the best (Pronger, Timonen)
I’m not going to jump on the defensive bandwagon just yet. They have great potential and some hardcore talent on the roster, but I won’t believe it until I see it. If the only players that show up are the top three, Philadelphia won’t be nearly as successful as most predict. But if they can find a way to get the most out of their depth defenders, this team will fly (no pun intended).
Alan Bass is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report, the Community Leader for the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers’ section, and a writer for TheHockeyNews.com, Prohockeynews.com, Insidehockey.com and Hockey54.com. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.