I assume most of you have read my posts, seen how talented I am at writing and assumed that I received all the talent my parents had to give. Well as hard as it may be to believe, my brother ML, also received his fair share of talent from the seemingly unlimited talent pool consisting of Stu’s sperm. So, seeing as how talented he is and that we share the same mother, my brother will be chiming in from time to time on various sporting topics. Enjoy…..
Most of you have been paying attention to the Eagles and Phillies over this past holiday weekend and rightfully so. The Eagles place the franchise tag on Michael Vick and a transfer tag on David Akers. The Phillies meanwhile, opened up spring training with a pitching staff consisting of four guys who are arguably the biggest thing since some four British guys sang “yellow submarine.” However, while that was taking up all the attention, the team with the best chance to have a parade down Broad Street in the next 6 months made a very nice addition to an already excellent team.
The Flyers added 24-year-old Kris Versteeg from the Maple Leafs for a first and third round pick. The 24 year old Versteeg has 14 goals and 21 assists in 53 games for Toronto this year and is the scoring right-winger the flyers have needed for quite some time. As many of you know, he also has Stanley Cup Winning experience, with the Chicago Blackhawks last year. He is a player in the Mike Richards mold, brings a lot of grit, plays power play and penalty kill but also brings a very nice offensive game with deft hands if he is put on the right line. While some would argue he is just going to upset the Flyers already deep lineup by not having enough ice time to go around, you would be wrong. First of all the Flyers offense has been slumping as of late and while the Briere, Hartnell, Leino line has been consistent all year, the rest of the offense has been mix and match with whoever had the hot hand at the time. This is especially true for Richards. Mike has been very good this year but he struggles at times offensively because he has so much responsibility defensively against the Crosby’s, Ovechkin’s, and Stamkos’ of the world. Due to the fact that he has had either Zherdev or Van Riemsdyk on his line along with Nodl, Mike has had even more responsibility than usual in the defensive zone because neither of those guys is very good defensively.
This is where Versteeg comes in to play. Put him on a line with Mike Richards and you lessen the responsibility of Richards significantly and you free up Carter and Giroux to become the team’s ultimate top line. Carter and Giroux have the talent to be the top line on most NHL teams but because the Flyers have been shuffling the lines so often due to lack of consistency besides the aforementioned Briere line, Giroux and Carter haven’t really found a rhythm. With the new addition of Versteeg I see the Flyers lines against Tampa Bay tonight looking like this:
1st: Left Wing: Hartnell Center: Briere Right Wing: Leino
2nd: Left Wing: Van Riemsdyk Center: Carter Right Wing: Giroux
3rd: Left Wing: Nodl Center: Richards Right Wing: Versteeg
4th: Left Wing: Powe Center: Betts Right Wing: Shelley
Scratches: Carcillo, Zherdev
I fully expect the Richards line to be out against the Stamkos line the whole game, and while the Flyers have trouble shutting him down throughout his career lets see if Versteeg maybe helps slow him and St. Louis down. With this addition I think the Flyers have arguably the best two-way line in the NHL, along with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk line and Vancouver’s Ryan Kessler line. So, while the Eagles go about their business and the Phillies open up training camp, remember ladies and gents, the best team in Philly right now wears Orange and Black, and just like the Phillies the last couple years they’ve just made a trade that might just get us back out there on Broad Street on a sunny day in June.