Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Like you, I’ve been reading all the rumors out there about NHL free agency and where the Flyers fit in.

We’ve heard craziness like Jeff Carter being traded (for Bobby Ryan or a goalie) or the Flyers trading for Tim Thomas and his ridiculous $5 million contract for the next three years.

We’ve watched them trade for the rights to negotiate with Dan Hamhuis and then just as quickly trade his rights away.

We’ve watched them try to land Evgeni Nabokov early, and just as quickly realized that was a June dead end.

And after all the rumors and machinations of them since the Blackhawks paraded the Stanley Cup around the Wachovia Center that have shadowed the Flyers, they are going into free agency tomorrow with the same team they had in the playoffs minus Ryan Parent.

That’s about to change.

While there have been wide speculating reports out there the past two weeks – some accurate some ridiculously off base – I have been gathering information from many sources both in and out of the Flyers organization and I’ve pieced together a good portion of their offseason wish list.

Here’s what I’ve got:

They HAVE signed Michael Leighton.

They will sign at least one defenseman, probably two.

They will go after another forward, probably two.

They will also try to nab a free agent goalie.

They WILL NOT trade Jeff Carter.

They WILL NOT trade for Tim Thomas.

Frankly, there aren’t any trades out there as of now that make sense for them.

They will resign all three restricted free agents – Braydon Coburn, Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe.

O.K. there is some info in there, but nothing juicy right? O.K. fine, let me get to the good stuff.

Let’s start with goalie, since that’s what everyone else wants to start with.

Michael Leighton has signed today with the Flyers. I’m hearing two years at about $1.5 million each year. Leighton has been told he will have an opportunity to compete for the No. 1 goalie position, but that he wasn’t having the job handed to him.

That’s because the Flyers are going to try to sign a companion goaltender to compete with him.

I was told they still have interest in Evgeni Nabokov and that they did kick the tires with Marty Turco, although no formal offer was made. While they are the biggest names – and ones the Flyers will continue to pursue – the team wants to spend less than those guys are looking for right now.

Unless their contract demands come down, look for the Flyers to turn their attention to Chris Mason, formerly of the St. Louis Blues or who I think is the likely choice – Dan Ellis, whose rights were traded yesterday from Nashville to Montreal.

Assuming Ellis doesn’t sign with the Habs – and there’s reason to believe he won’t because why would he take backup money to Carey Price when he has a shot to start for a team that was in the Stanley Cup Finals – he will likely be the Flyers prime goaltending target.

Wait, if it’s any of those four goalies AND Leighton, where does that leave Brian Boucher?

On the outs sadly. Boucher is one of the great guys in the sport, but if the Flyers plan comes to fruition, he will either be bought out, waived, or traded.

Next is the blue line, where the Hamhuis situation left everyone’s head spinning.

Despite what you’re hearing about the Flyers possibly getting back into the Hamhuis sweepstakes come lunchtime tomorrow, unless he’s changed his mind as is willing to both play in the East and take less minutes, they won’t even talk to him.

Simply put, Hamhuis and his agent Wade Arnott are over-valuing themselves. Hamhuis is a decent No. 4-5 defenseman. He wants to be considered a No. 2-3. If he wants that role, he better sign with a bad team. If he wants to win a Stanley Cup, he better take a reality check.

Still, either way, the Western Canadian-born (Smithers, B.C.) Hamhuis likes the Western Conference a lot more than the East. He’ll stay out there.

The Flyers instead have their sights set on a different group of defensemen.

Their top choice would be New Jersey’s Paul Martin, but he will most certainly be outside their price scale. The Flyers will certainly inquire, but Martin will sign somewhere for about $6 million annually. The Flyers are looking for someone with a max of about $4 million.

Which brings us to their second choice – Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov is the perfect player for these Flyers. He blocks tons of shots. He’s a smart, solid, stay-at-home defenseman. He doesn’t score many points, but that’s not his game. You want reliability, you got it with Volchenkov.

The thing is, he may want more than $4 million. But consider this – his former coach, both in the AHL with Binghamton and in the NHL with Ottawa is Flyers’ assistant general manager John Paddock, and from what I can glean, Paddock loves Volchenkov’s game.

Is it possible that Volchenkov would take a little less with the Flyers than somewhere else to be reunited with Paddock?

It’s certainly a possibility.

If not, the Flyers will turn to another connection – one with player personnel director Don Luce.

Luce used to work for the Buffalo Sabres. Henrik Tallinder is set to be a free agent. He’s not as bright and shiny as Martin or Volchenkov, but he’s not chopped liver – and probably a bit cheaper and perfect for that No. 5 role.

Later in the summer, look for the Flyers to go after another defenseman – maybe a right handed shot from the point. Phoenix product Zybnek Michalek is an interesting possibility, but a more likely scenario is Kurtis Foster, who has a rifle from the point and was lost in the shuffle with a bad Tampa Bay team.

Expect the Flyers to go hard after him once the first wave of free agency dies down.

Finally, at forward, I think the Flyers will look to add one, maybe two guys. Here are their top targets:

1. Matt Cullen – Cullen, who will turn 34 in November, is a Peter Laviolette favorite. He scored 25 goals for Laviolete during the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup run in 2005-06. It was a career high. He is a stead left-hand shot who can play either center or on left wing.
2. Colby Armstrong – The Flyers have coveted Armstrong the last couple of years but could never work out a trade that made sense. Now he’s a free agent and they think they can nab him. He won’t turn 28 until November and has a gritty, two-way style that fits the Flyers nicely. He’d be the perfect compliment on a third line for the Flyers.

I’m not saying they’ll get all of these guys, but they’ll certainly try to get them all at one point or another in the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


While driving to Canada early this morning to visit family and friends, Danny Briere was involved in an accident with a tractor trailer.

Briere was driving on I-81 at approximately 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning in New York near the town of Binghamton when he swerved, side-swiped the rig and collided with the guard rail.

The 18-wheeler jack-knifed and stalled traffic for more than 5 hours.

In the car with Briere was his 9-year-old son Cameron. Briere's Range Rover was totaled.

Both Briere and his son were taken to Binghamton hospital for treatment and both were o.k. after suffering minor injuries. They have been released. The driver of the tractor trailer was also treated and released.

Briere suffered an arm injury and his son complained of neck pain.

Briere issued a statement through the Flyers.

“I was in a car accident in New York," said Briere. "I was driving home to visit family and friends back in Canada when I got into an accident last night (actually Thursday morning). My youngest son (Cameron) and I are both okay. We are doing fine.”

According to New York State police, Briere said he was a little drowsy when he swerved and caused the crash.

Briere was cited by New York State police for an unsafe lane change.


In other Flyer-related news... you can take the Montreal Canadiens out of the mix of teams the Flyers may try to trade with to get a goalie.

The Habs sent playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

This means Carey Price has been anointed No.1 in Montreal, meaning they don't have goalies available for the Flyers.

Still look at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick/Jonathan Bernier) and Minnesota (Josh Harding) as possibilities.

Monday, June 14, 2010


We were already told that Blair Betts would have surgery again on his dislocated right shoulder this summer and Johan Backlund would undergo a minor hip procedure as well.

But, Paul Holmgren hinted that more surgeries could be on the way pending doctor visits over the weekend.

Turns out there are at least two.

Dan Carcillo will undergo surgery to repair a sports hernia that he suffered during the playoffs.

Ville Leino will also go under the knife to have his hip cleaned out. Leino's is a minor procedure that won't cost him much time this summer.

Carcillo's is a little longer, but it's not a serious injury and he will be ready for training camp.

Stay tuned as even more could be coming down the road.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


WIP radio host Glen Macnow called me this morning to talk about last night's game. We were trying to figure out it's place in Flyers' history.

It is certainly one of the best playoff games they've ever been a part of, but for his talk radio purposes, he wanted to limit it to the past 15 years. He asked for a top 10 list.

Like the Big 10, I gave him 11.

Let me know if you agree:

1. 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Boston Game 7 win 4-3 -- pretty simple, history on top of history.

2. 2010 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Chicago Game 3 win 4-3 -- Again backs against the wall, again they find a way on the biggest stage of all.

3. 2004 Eastern Conference finals vs. Tampa Bay Game 6 win 5-4 -- Primeau scores with 1:49 to play to tie the score passing the puck to himself through the crease and skating around behind the net to tap it in on the other side. Then, Simon Gagne scored the game-winner at 18:18 of overtime to force Game 7.

4. 1997 Eastern Conference finals vs. New York Rangers Game 4 win 3-2 -- With the Rangers having just tied the game on a Brian Leetch goal with two minutes to play, the game seemed destined for overtime, but Eric Lindros struck with a power play goal with seven seconds to play to win the game and take a 3-1 series lead.

5. 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Toronto Game 6 win 3-2 -- Jeremy Roenick scores the overtime game-winner to send the Flyers to the Conference finals. Earlier in the same sequence of play, Darcy Tucker crushed Sami Kapanen against the boards and Kapanen couldn't stand up. Primeau had to hook him to the bench with his stick like Kapanen was a bad vaudeville performer, allowing Roenick to hop over the boards to score the series-winning goal.

6. 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Washington Game 7 win 3-2 -- Joffrey Lupul scores the power play game-winner in overtime to help the Flyers pull off the upset and head to the second round. The bigger story was Marty Biron though, who made 39 saves in the game and was remarkable in a third period where Washington outshot the Flyers 16-5. Biron stopped all 16 of those shots to keep the game tied and force overtime.

7. 1995 Eastern Conference Finals vs. New Jersey Game 3 win 3-2 -- After losing the first two games at home, the Flyers were down 2-1 at Brendan Byrne Arena with time melting away. But Rod Brind'Amour tied it with six minutes to play and Lindros bested Martin Brodeur in overtime to keep the Flyers alive in the series.

8. 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. New York Rangers Game 1 win 5-4 -- It was the upstart Flyers, making their first playoff appearance in six years, vs. the defending Stanley Cup champions. In a wild Game 1, New York jumped out to a 2-0 lead and were ahead 3-2 after two periods. But John LeClair completed a playoff hat trick to tie the score with eight minutes to play and Eric Desjardins gave the Flyers the lead with a goal with five minutes to go. However Pat Verbeek tied the game with 19 seconds left to force overtime. Desjardins provided the answer again in the extra session to give the Flyers the win after taking the best punch the champs had to offer.

9. 2003 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Toronto Game 4 win 3-2 -- Trailing the series 2-1 the Flyers had a must-win Game 4 in Toronto. They dominated play the entire game, but found themselves headed to overtime because Leafs goalie Ed Belfour was otherworldly. He had 35 saves through regulation and with the score knotted 2-2, it was a war of attrition to see which goalie would blink first. The first overtime was a track meet, but both Belfour and Ron Hextall were awesome. Belfour stopped 15 more shots and Hextall 12. The second overtime was nearly as frantic with Belfour stopping 14 more and Hextall nine. Finally, in the third overtime, Mark Recchi slid a slow roller through Belfour's pads to get the win and even the series 2-2. Belfour finished with 72 saves to Hextall's 36.

10. 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Pittsburgh Game 4 win 2-1 -- The five-overtime game. Keith Primeau. You know the rest. Save totals:Brian Boucher 57, Ron Tugnutt 70.

11. 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. New York Rangers Game 2 win 4-3 -- Just like Game 1, the Rangers took a 2-0 lead, the Flyers fought back to go in front and the Rangers tied it late to force overtime. This extra period didn't last long however as Kevin Haller scored just 25 seconds into the extra period to win the game and virtually bury the Rangers. The Flyers would win the next two in New York rather handily and advance to the Conference finals.