Tag Archives: Free Agency

Flyers Up and Down Approaching the Trade Deadline

No more than a week ago, I thought the Flyers might be able to actually make a push and make the playoffs.  However, with the key injuries starting to pile up, that’s becoming a distant possibility.  The loss of Couturier was bad enough but now it looks like del Zotto is also out for a good chunk of time.  If last night’s game is any indication, I just don’t see how this roster can put together enough wins to not only keep pace but jump over the other teams ahead of them to make it into the playoffs.  And then if they get there, outside of the Penguins, I don’t see them advancing.  As the end of the month trade deadline approaches in the NHL, it is a very interesting time for the Flyers and one that will be critical to them maintaining this progression on the rebuild.

As a fan of the team, I don’t support the whole “tanking” concept trying to get a better draft pick, and I believe the Flyers are too proud of an organization to actually do it.  So I don’t think that’s even a viable option for the rest of the season.  I fully expect the team to continue to compete as they’re also working to learn coach Hakstol’s system and get stronger in what he’s trying to do.  Here’s what I’d like to see them do during the next couple of weeks.

With regards to the actual trade deadline, I would be fine with them not making another move.  They’ve already shed 2 painful contracts with the trade Lecavalier/Schenn trade.  Of the players remaining on the team, I only see 2 that are relatively high paid players that consistently spend time in the press box as healthy scratches – R.J. Umberger and Sam Gagner.  Gagner’s contract actually expires at the end of this year, so I don’t see him going anywhere and it really doesn’t hurt the Flyers all that much.  But perhaps someone would take a shot on a rental for a draft pick.  As for Umberger, he still has one more year left on his deal (cap hit of $4.6 million) and would be very nice to get off the books.  This would be another cap shedding move that I would be happy to just see a “bag of pucks” in return.  I would be perfectly fine seeing both these players move on before the trade deadline, but don’t expect to see much in return.  Anything Hextall can get for them should be seen as a win, which was exactly what he was able to do in that deal with the Kings.

The other interesting player on the roster is Mark Streit, who carries a $5.25 million dollar cap hit through next season and isn’t getting any younger at the age of 38.  However, he’s still a very solid defender and one of, if not the best defender on the roster.  IF del Zotto was healthy, I would think the probability of Streit moving would be higher, but the prospects of replacing the top 2 defenders from a minutes played perspective could prove very daunting.  In the first game since del Zotto’s injury MacDonald was recalled from the Phantom’s and reminded everyone why he’s down in the AHL as he was just horrid.  I guess there could be some unfamiliarity and nerves involved, but he was playing with Gostisbehere (Ghost) who he spent lots of time playing with prior to Ghost’s call-up to the Flyers.  I would expect Streit to remain on the team through this season and perhaps move next year at this time as a sort of Timonen move to give him a last shot at a cup if the Flyers aren’t in contention.  Unless of course, someone comes forward with a deal too sweet to pass up, but that would need to be very cap friendly and with either prospects or draft picks.

As for the rest of the roster, the biggest thing I’d like to see is an extended “try-out” for some of the younger players in the Flyers system.  I will fully admit I don’t know all the complicated rules for calling up and sending down players and how that relates to waivers, so what I’d like to see happen may not be possible.  But a player like Jordan Weal is already on the roster and I’d like to see him get a shot just to determine if he’s an asset for next year or someone who is a Phantoms player in all reality.  Aside from him, there’s a handful of young defensmen in the ranks with varying degrees of actual NHL experience.  Maybe rotate some of those guys in for a few games or something as they couldn’t possibly be any worse than MacDonald.  Although I guess perhaps giving MacDonald some time before the trade deadline might get him some visibility for another sucker, i mean team, to offer the Flyers a puck in return for his play.

Overall this is a rough spot for fans, and I’m sure frustrating for the franchise, but it is one where patience will payoff as there’s finally a ton of talent in this organization.  Hopefully they can make the most of this year and make a good solid push for next season.

Houston Texans Off-Season

We’re in that time of year when football fans start dreaming of how to make their teams better and how they’ll be in the Super Bowl next year.  That of course would be doubly sweet for the Texans since it would be a home game for them.  I actually think the Texans are pretty close to being a decent team and am surprised more people haven’t mentioned them as possible teams to follow what the Bronco’s did.  Let’s dive into that a bit more before talking about player moves.  The Texans actually have more cap room this offseason than I can remember them having, and that’s without making any cuts like many expect them to, which could push their remaining space up to around $50 million.  However, outside of Joseph and McPhee (Bears signing this year), those big acquisitions rarely pay off so that space is a bit of a double edged sword.

If you look at the Bronco’s run to the Super Bowl, they did it with a great defense and adequate play from Manning.  And if you look at the entire year from either QB the Broncos had, did they really play THAT much better than Hoyer (at least until that awful playoff game)?  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe the Texans will do something at the QB position, but aside from that one game, some early in the season, and injuries, the Texans QB play wasn’t all that far removed from what the Bronco’s had.  The biggest thing that jumped out to me about both the Patriots and the Panthers games were how often the QBs dropped back with only 5 blockers daring Von Miller to beat them.  I can only imagine the numbers Watt would put up with that kind of treatment.  But, if you look at the two defenses there are similarities and I do believe the Texans are probably a couple players away from fielding a team with the potential to be as deadly.  If they could add a starter at each level of the defense, either through Free Agency (some real good options possible at both the line and linebacker levels) or the draft as well as re-signing some of their depth, this defense should pick up and move forward from where they ended the season.  If (and I agree this is a big if) Clowney can stay healthy in 2016 this could be one incredibly scary defense.

As for the Offense, that’s a bit trickier to deal with.  There are quite a few problems outside of the elephant.  Their line could use some help as even with Brown coming back from injury they still don’t have 5 solid starters there, let alone much depth.  An addition via Free Agency there would probably be helpful as I don’t see them going for a lineman early enough to make a difference next year, but would be a potential for the next.  As for the rest of the offensive weapons, another year of progress from Jalen Strong could jump him up to a #2 but getting another weapon in would be nice too.  I know lots of writers and fans are clamoring for Alshon Jeffrey, which would be a nice land for sure, but I just don’t think he’s going to hit the open market.   The other big decision is at the Running Back position and I’m torn with what to do with Foster.  Clearly the offense was dramatically different when he was injured, but how would the defense have looked if they always knew he wouldn’t be there?  I’m not sure Free Agency is the place to find a back as I’m sure Doug Martin would actually be more expensive than Foster and how much better would he be?  I’d probably be inclined to move on from Foster as that money could go to other areas, but I wouldn’t be completely upset if Foster returns.  Finally, I’m not sure what to do about Tight End as it just doesn’t seem like they utilize them at all.  Maybe that’s because they aren’t any good, but I’m just not sure they’re a huge part of the offense.  I’d rather see perhaps more WR sets and focus on the TEs blocking.

As for the elephant, clearly the Texans need a QB but how does this team actually get one?  Unless something bad happens, most likely the team will be middle of the pack for the foreseeable future and not able to get a top 5 pick, and I’m not sure it would be feasible to trade up that high.  Franchise QBs don’t hit the open market, so I don’t expect they’ll find what they need in that way, nor do blockbuster trades happen all that often.  I think the most viable solution would be to draft someone in the first 2 rounds (best available), bring back Hoyer, and have that drafted QB and Savage fight it out for the future role with Hoyer as the mentor and backup.

While this year was a bit of a disappointment, I have to think at some point they have to use less than 5 QBs in a season, and when that happens it could be a special year.  I’ll be paying very close attention to who the Texans cut and also what other big names might hit the market in March.  And then its time to focus on the draft!