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.

Monday, February 28, 2011


In what looks on paper to be a minor league trade, the Flyers sent Phantoms forward Greg Moore and unsigned draft choice Michael Chaput to the Columbus Blue Jackets for left wing Tommy Sestito.

Sestito, 23, actually played nine games with the Jackets this season and could very well get a cup of coffee with the Flyers before the regular season is out.

A hulking forward at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, the New York native is a guy the Flyers view as a possibility to be a depth forward next season.

But keep in mind the one thing the Flyers are really missing is a big-bodied winger - which is part of the problem on the power play - and Sestito could get a look on the big club sometime in April if the Flyers have the top seed locked up.

They parted with very little for Sestito - Moore is slated to be a UFA at season's end and Chaput, their highest pick in the draft last season (3rd round) still hadn't signed and likely wasn't going to do so with the Flyers.

Paul Holmgren said the team looked around at a few players, but the asking price was too high for rental players and the Flyers didn't have much to part with after trading a 1st rounder and a 3rd rounder for Kris Versteeg on Valentine's Day.

More on this deal and those that didn't happen later today.


Some of my hockey colleagues were whining and complaining about fake Twitter accounts breaking phony trades.

Maybe it was because they all got burned by re-reporting it themselves.

Look, if you didn't get the scoop yourself, you should check it out before you go and post anything yourself. I understand we live in a world where immediacy is of the utmost importance, but really, shouldn't accuracy come ahead of that?

How hard would it be to take a minute or five to double check what somebody else put out there rather than assume it's gospel?

Former Flyer Joffrey Lupul had some fun at the media's expense in response to the rumor that he was traded to Long Island that was retweeted by a couple local reporters.

He made a point to suggest that at least one writer "writes first and asks questions later."

The point here is, your best reporters aren't going to go gaga on twitter everyday filling your feed with useless info or bad reports.

As for the fake twitter account guys... keep it up. You keep the real hockey scribes honest.

Instead, they're going to only give you news when there's actually news.

Find those guys and follow them.

And if the fake twitter folk are exposing other writers as hacks, so be it.

FIRST (and maybe only) BIG TRADE TODAY

and it did not involve Flyers. No surprise there.

Still, The Flyers West (L.A. Kings) made the big splash acquiring Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers for Colton Teubert a 1st round pick and another conditional pick.

That's a big add for the Kings who have been playing some really nice hockey of late.

In other trades:

Another former Flyer was dealt as Ryan Potulny and a 2nd round pick were shipped from Chicago to Ottawa for Defensemen Chris Campoli.

The other intriguing deal saw Carolina get Bryan Allen from Florida (where else) for Sergei Samsonov.

The Hurricanes, a possible first round opponent for the Flyers, are adding some nice pieces to try to make a run to A. Get in the playoffs, and B. play the role of Cinderella.


Still nothing here at Voorhees. Starting to seem like that's the way it's going to stay.

But a couple notes on a couple former Flyers:

Scottie Upshall was traded along with Sami Lepisto from Phoenix to Columbus for Rastislav Klesla.

I like the deal for the Jackets. Both players will add a little spunk to that offense as the Jackets try to sneak into the playoffs out west.

Then there's Justin Williams (married to a Delco girl by the way) who signed a new 4-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings worth $14.6 million. Good for Willie.

As for the rumor that Joffrey Lupul was traded (again) to the Islanders, not true. It was a Twitter fabrication.

Got to know who to trust on the social networks!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


So the Panthers are emptying the cupboard.

First it was Radek Dvorak to the Thrashers for Nicklas Bergfors and Patrik Rissmiller.

Then it was Dennis Wideman to Washington for Jake Hauswirth and a third round pick.

Considering Wideman was the key piece in the trade for Nathan Horton last summer, it makes one wonder what the heck Dale Tallon was thinking.

Either way, he's the only one doing anything right now.

The Flyers, as expected, have been quiet.

They are looking for a cheap, veteran, depth winger, but won't break up the roster to get one.

There was a lot of speculation that they were trying to get Marty Reasoner from Florida (does everyone have Tallon on speed dial today?) But I was told a little bit ago that Reasoner not only won't be traded but is likely the next captain for the Panthers.

Meanwhile, here at practice, Nick Boynton has made his first appearance and was playing physical, burying James van Riemsdyk on one drill.

Blair Betts and Chris Pronger also practicing.

Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So, I spent much of my evening sitting at my dining room table talking on the phone for far too long to NHL people about varying topics.

Anybody got a life they can trade me before Monday's deadline?

Anyway here's the latest:

At least three NHL teams are considering putting in a claim for Nik Zherdev - if they haven't already - and the one with the best chance of getting him? How about the Atlanta Thrashers?

It makes sense. The Thrashers have plummeted off the cliff and need to try to save their chance at a playoff berth, but would like to do so with spending extravagantly.

Zherdev is owed $440,000 the rest of the season (roughly) and becomes unrestricted after the season.

He'll immediately be viewed as a top six forward on the Thrashers and would certainly get up for the three remaining games the Thrash have with the Flyers. It makes a lot of sense.

If not Atlanta, another name I heard was Nashville... who is getting ready to make a serious push out West, and could be a dark horse with some added offense to its already stellar defensive team.

Mike Fisher was the first step, could Zherdev be the second?

Another league source told me that Zherdev would not return to Russia, as that season is nearly over, and that he won't go to the AHL - which suggests to me that a claim is coming.

We'll see how that turns out tomorrow.

As for Oskars Bartulis - a Flyers source confirmed for me tonight that Bartulis' shoulder injury is bad enough to require surgery and it will cost him the rest of the season.

Bad break for Bart, but if nothing else it all but guarantees the Flyers will be on the hunt for a seventh defenseman for the playoff push.

But I also think they want another forward.

When we were in Florida last week, Paul Holmgren was spotted having a lengthy chat with Dale Tallon, the GM of the Panthers.

So many people are speculating that this has to do with goalie Tomas Vokoun. The Flyers have been linked to him before, but I don't see the need for such a big money contract for a goalie.

If nothing else, the Flyers proved last season you don't need a big ticket goalie to reach the Cup Finals. I think they stand pat with Bobrovsky and Boucher.

But don't be surprised if Homer and Tallon weren't chatting about Cory Stillman.

The veteran winger is unrestricted after the season and is likely to be moved to a contender. Stillman would be reunited with Peter Laviolette who was his coach in 2005-06 in Carolina and they won a Stanley Cup.

He'd be another fine addition to the lineup.

His salary is pretty hefty, but the Flyers can get creative. Take away Zherdev and Bartulis' contracts and they could add Stillman without losing anyone else.

If they want to go Stillman and a defenseman, they could probably make it work by losing one salary from the current roster - Dan Carcillo and Andreas Nodl make the most sense mathematically.

Again, this is pure speculation. I have no knowledge of this being a legitimate possibility.

However, it's worth thinking about as a lot of pieces to my puzzle certainly make sense.

Let me know what you think.


Nik Zherdev has been waived. Who didn't see that coming?

Zherdev, who was a gamble to fit in with the Flyers when they signed him to a one-year deal, never did. He was a loner in the locker room. His work ethic was less than desired. He never won over coach Peter Laviolette and then sulked after being benched.

An animated discussion between Paul Holmgren and Zherdev's agent Jay Grossman in New York Sunday led to this end result.

Zherdev is gone. Fifteen goals in 47 games wasn't enough to keep him around. And while the Flyers said they'll wait to see what happens with the waiver process before deciding on what to do with Zherdev, it's almost a certainty that they won't keep him around.

His diva-like attitude is more of a strain on what is being built with the Flyers than his what his potential suggests he brings to the table.

"His agent and Nik aren't real happy with the situation here and they asked us to look around for options," Holmgren said. "Nothing really came of that through trade, so we'll see what happens.

"I think about this all the time. It was a little bit of an experiment bringing him here to see what he can do and for periods of time it was good. He has 15 goals in limited power play time and limited minutes. But over the course of time here, things have eroded and his work ethic has dropped off and right now he's not fitting in."

In other words... don't let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out.

Which is practically what happened Wednesday.

After being called to Holmgren's office to be told he was being put on waivers, Zherdev was smiling as he walked down the hallway outside the locker room chatting on his cell phone.

With a bevy of reporters waiting to speak to him, he told a Flyers' spokesman that he had no interest in speaking with the media, he slipped out a side door, into a limousine and sped away.

The end of an uneventful era.

In other news:

- Kimmo Timonen offered some unexpected criticism of Sergei Bobrovsky and sort of through some support behind Brian Boucher... look for a story on this on later tonight.

- Despite reports to the contrary, Sean O'Donnell will be in the lineup Thursday against the Islanders, his knee sprain, not as bad as originally thought.

- Phantoms defenseman Matt Walker is on his way back to Philadelphia - but not as a recall. Rather he is returning for another surgery - this time on his knee - and it will keep him out of action for about one month.

- Oskars Bartulis will have shoulder surgery and will be out for a significant period of time. More details on that to come as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


You always hear war references referring to losing battles but winning the war.

Feel free to use that when talking about Flyers pugilist Jody Shelley.

Shelley dropped the gloves with Phoenix defenseman Nolan Yonkman during the Flyers 3-2 overtime loss to the Coyotes and it was a heck of a fight.

Shelley landed more punches and as such gets credit for the win, but Yonkman did get one in and it split the bridge of Shelley's nose wide open.

As a result, Shelley needed more than 60 stitches to close the cut. He's going to have a real pretty face after this one.

Something tells me with a wound that big, Shelley might have to miss the tilt with the Islanders Thursday. If Blair Betts isn't ready to go, the Flyers may have no choice but to re-insert the enigma that is Nik Zherdev into the lineup.

Zherdev did skate with the team during warmups Tuesday - a rare sight from the Russian winger who, when he's not playing is hardly ever around, and is usually the first guy out of the arena after a game, win or lose, and isn't often seen mingling with teammates.

General manager Paul Holmgren had a lengthy conversation with Zherdev's agent Jay Grossman in the bowels of Madison Square Garden Sunday and it was Holmgren doing all the talking.

Maybe the message got through and Zherdev's participation in the warmup was a sign that he is making an effort - or at least a veiled effort - at being a better teammate.

Still, I don't think Peter Laviolette buys it for one minute. Zherdev is the one square peg in the Flyers locker room and I'm not convinced that he's wanted there when the chips are down in the postseason.


This came out of the blue:

Sean O'Donnell, he of the knee sprain and the 10-14 day timetable for a return, skated Tuesday for 40 minutes, felt great and could be back Thursday.

What's that line Joe Conklin used to use when doing his impersonation of Bob Clarke? "Hello, Liars."


"He got good news in his MRI," Paul Holmgren said. "It's not a ligament problem that we're dealing with."

One other item of note...

Of the 22 games remaining this season for the Flyers, 15 of them are against teams who entered play Tuesday not in a playoff position.

Nine of those 15 are in the next 10 games.

Here are next 10 opponents: Islanders, Senators, Maple Leafs, Sabres, Rangers, Oilers, Leafs again, Thrashers, Panthers, Thrashers again.

With 84 points, the Flyers are 34 points behind the Franchise record for points in a season (118 in 1975-76). Is it really inconceivable to think they couldn't match that with the schedule they have left?

After those next 10 games it gets a little dicey as they have five out of six against Dallas, Washington, Boston and Pittsburgh twice, but the season ends with two against the Islanders, another game with Atlanta, the Devils, Rangers again, Sens again and Sabres again.

A 17-5 record isn't too far-fetched.

Just saying...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


If an end of season award ever had an opportunity to boil down to one isolated moment it could have happened Friday night in Raleigh, N.C.

There was 18-year-old Carolina rookie - and cult icon in the research triangle - Jeff Skinner skating down the left wing.

There also was 22-year-old rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky squaring to face him.

There's a short list of names that will be mentioned for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year, and these two are likely candidates for the award.

Skinner won the mano-y-mano competition in this instance, floating a nothing-special wrister through Bobrovsky's five-hole - a save the goalie, nay any goalie, has to make - but Bobrovsky answered Skinner the rest of the game.

Skinner is the leading scorer in the NHL among rookies, and by those accounts is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy. Considering the added exposure he received in the All-Star Game, He's a lock to be a finalist and could win on reputation alone.

Logan Couture in San Jose may be the most polished and most complete rookie this season, but he's only a rookie through a technicality as he played a good chunk of last season with the Sharks and that could hurt his candidacy in the eyes of many voters.

Then there's Michael Grabner with the Islanders. The late-to-the-party rookie has been white hot lately with 14 goals in 15 games to jump into the mix.

But what about Bobrovsky? Is what he's doing in goal impressive enough to be mentioned?

"He should be in the conversation," his coach Peter Lacviolette said. "If he's not then maybe I need to start rattling that cage. He has 23 wins. That means he's going to finish with 30 or more. That's a pretty impressive number for a rookie."

It is, but it ranks in the middle of the pack in the NHL (tied for 12th). His goals against average is also in the middle third of the league (12th at 2.44) and is behind his own teammate Brian Boucher (2.27, 6th). And his save percentage (.919) is tied for 15th in the league one-hundredth of a point behind Boucher (.920).

Again, his numbers are pretty good for a rookie, but they're not eye-popping. And when you consider Skinner, Couture and Grabner all are sure bets to post 50-point seasons as a rookie (Skinner could hit 60) and all three have a realistic shot at 30 goals.

Considering how hard it is to reach those plateaus as a veteran let a lone a rookie and considering Bobrovsky's slightly above average numbers are bolstered by playing behind arguably the best defensive corps in the NHL, it's not hard to think Bobrovsky is fourth in a three-horse race for the Calder - no matter how much cage-rattling Peter Laviolette wants to employ.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ville Leino has a lower body injury. He is missing tonight's game against the Florida Panthers.

It was an injury suffered last night in the 4-3 win against the Lightning.

Paul Holmgren told me - and the Daily News - that it's nothing serious and that he'd "be surprised if (Leino) doesn't play the next game" Friday in Carolina.

But what's more interesting is coach Peter Laviolette's decision to use Jody Shelley in place of Leino rather than the more skilled Zherdev.

Zherdev has likely burned his last bridge with Laviolette and barring a dire need for him in one of the next couple games, may have played his last game as a Flyer..

Sources have confirmed that the Flyers are trying to trade Zherdev, but are struggling to find a partner with enough interest to work the deal.

If Zherdev does not get moved, don't be surprised to see the Flyers waive him, eat the remainder of his $2 million salary and create some additional cap room.

More on this tomorrow...

Monday, February 14, 2011


I'm down in Clearwater with the Phillies but here's the press release from the Flyers on the trade. Rob Parent will have more on line in a bit and i'll follow up with the team in Tampa tomorrow:

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have acquired 5-10, 182-pound right wing Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a first-round and a third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. 
“Kris is an exciting young forward,” Holmgren said.  He’s 24 years old and he’ll fit in with our group of players here.  He’s a quality forward that can play in a lot of different roles for our hockey team. He can move up and down our lineup. He can kill penalties. He can play on the power play.  We think he’s a guy that over the last few years, particularly in Chicago, has really blossomed into a good forward and we think he’s going to be a really good addition to our team.”
“Right away I was extremely excited to join this team,” Versteeg said.  “They’ve had a lot of success this season.  They had a great playoff push last year and I’m excited to try and have a good one this year.  I like to make plays and score goals at the same time, maybe go out there and be an agitator at times too. I’m going to try and do it all and have fun doing it.”
Versteeg, 24 (5-13-86), was a fifth-round selection of the Boston Bruins (134th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.  In 53 games for Toronto this season, Versteeg has posted 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points.  He was acquired by Toronto on June 30, 2010 in a five-player trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. 
Versteeg was part of Chicago’s Stanley Cup championship team last season, contributing 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in 79 regular season games and adding six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. 
In 223 NHL games with Chicago and Toronto over parts of four seasons, Versteeg has career totals of 58 goals and 78 assists for 136 points.
The Flyers return to action on Tuesday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning in the start of a four-game road trip.  The game will be broadcast in high definition on Comcast SportsNet and also will air on 610 WIP.  Puck drop is 7:30 PM.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


With a second five-day break from Flyers action in the past two weeks, I thought it would be cool to look at a few statistical anomalies that have shone through in this successful-to-this-point Flyers season.

The first is faceoff percentage.

Among players who have taken at least one draw per game, the Flyers two best faceoff folks this season are currently playing wing.

Jeff Carter hasn't taken enough draws to count among the league leaders but is winning 55.6 percent of his faceoffs this season...which would tie him with Sidney Crosby for 17th in the league. The reason he hasn't taken enough draws is because he's been playing a lot of wing.

Ville Leino is clicking at 58 percent, although he usually only gets a chance when Danny Briere gets tossed from the circle.

Still, going 40-for-69 is a pretty good sample, and maybe there's something there.

Mike Richards (49.2 percent), Claude Giroux (50.7 percent) and Blair Betts (48.4 percent) are close to a coin flip each time, but Danny Briere is a sub-par 45.3 percent.

Everybody is better at home than on the road becase you get the matchups you're looking for - that is all except Briere, who is one-tenth of a percent better away from the Wells Fargo Center. All that means though is Briere is equally shaky in the circle regardless of where the game is being played.

Which brings about this idea?

Why not let Leino take the draws on that line?

I'm sure coach Peter Laviolette will one day sit me down and explain how job responsibilities stem from positioning in a face off circle and how systematically it wouldn't be prudent to let Leino take draws instead of Briere, but until that day arrives (and I'll let you know if it does, it seems to me you should go with the hot hand.

If Leino proves to be just a flash in the pan in the circle - then go back to Briere. But to me, it's worth a shot to see what Ville can do.

As for Carter, how about giving him more of the draws than Giroux? It's not that Giroux has been bad... actually he's the best of the top four... but Carter has been elite. Only 18 of 91 qualifying pivots are winning at that good a clip.

Laviolette certainly plays matchups with those two right now, but Carter should be given more.

At least that's one man's opinion.

Now, after highlighting a negative in Danny Briere's game, let's turn to a positive.

There is only one line on the Flyers that has scored more points on the road than at home this season and, yep, you guessed it, it's Briere's line.

That translates to the rest of the league having no answer for them when they're on their game.

In other words, when the opposing coach has the ability to match up his best defensive pairing and his best defensive line against the Briere line, they're still scoring.

Combined they have 66 points and are a plus-32 in 26 road games. They have 52 points and are a plus-17 in 27 home games.

The only other Flyers that are better offensively on the road than at home are Andreas Nodl (11 points vs. 7 points), Jody Shelley (4 points vs. 0 points), Matt Carle (14 points vs. 10 points) and Andrej Meszaros (10 points vs. 9 points).


One of the favorite parts of hockey - as far as fans are concerned - is hitting. The Flyers, of course, have a big time reputation of being a team that hits and hits hard.

And while that reputation is being upheld by the current bunch of players, it may not be the guys you think of first and foremost that are doing the hitting.


There are four players with 100 or more hits this season and only one of them would be on the "as expected list" and that's Scott Hartnell, who incidentally is fourth on the team with 100 on the nose.

Who is ahead of him?

How about Chris Pronger - the notorious defensive hammer.

Nope. Granted he missed 15 games this season, but he's averaging less than one a game and has only 27 so far.

How about the enforcers? Dan Carcillo and Jody Shelley?

Well, combined they have more than 100 (118) but that's not even as many as the best hitter on the team.

How about Mike Richards - who so many people around the NHL ridiculously label a head hunter?

No. He has 66 hits. Fewer than ANdreas Nodl (72) and Claude Giroux (75).

Then who?

Well, No. 1 is Darroll Powe, with a whopping 128 - not bad for a fourth line player.

No. 2 is Andrej Meszaros with 110 - just another excellent part of his game.

And No. 3 is Braydon Coburn (more on him coming in a separate story on tomorrow) with 101.

Here's a few other surprises:

Most giveaways: Matt Carle (39) - most among forwards: Mike Richards (26).

Fewest giveaways among regular players: Blair Betts (5)

Most Missed Shots: Jeff Carter (83) - O.K., that's not a surprise.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


OK... before we get to the Flyers 3-2 win over Nashville...

Reports out of Canada (TSN rumor hawk Darren Dreger) are that the Flyers are one of three teams interested in signing Ray Emery.

I checked with a source tonight and although I was told it was unlikely, I didn't buy the poker face I was being given.

I think the Flyers would like to add another veteran goalie for depth purposes - in case Sergei Bobrovsky falters, or there is an injury - and I think they'd be willing to gamble on Emery on a two-way contract, which Emery would likely sign.

Also, Emery is young enough that if he shows you something in the AHL, maybe he becomes another asset for the team. Who knows.

Also, Detroit is in serious need of a backup goalie. Maybe they'd be willing to trade for one of the Flyers depth guys. Who knows.

The fact is, while I was told emery is not a priority, I believe Dreger's report and think there is definite interest.

As for the game... it was well-played both ways.

Nashville doesn't get a lot of credit for their style of game because they are an unheralded team, but the fact is, they play you tough and are in every game. They have a really strong defense - like the Flyers - and probably a better goaltending tandem in Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback.

Where the Flyers seriously trump the Preds is up front. Nashville doesn't even have one dynamic offensive forwards, let alone six or seven as the Flyers do, and ultimately that won out.

But, it didn't stop Peter Laviolette and Barry Trotz from tripping over their own tongues to compliment the other coach's team:


“They have tremendous depth, they have three lines that are first or second line quality. We had (Kimmo) Timonen, and know he is one of the smartest defenseman in the league. Pronger is going to be a Hall of Fame Norris guy every year. They have really good depth, mobility, smarts. They’re the deepest team that I’ve seen out of the East, there is no question about it.”


"Nashville came in here and played a really strong game. They skated very well and competed very well and you have to match that and I thought we did.
"It’s about winning and losing, and as the season starts to push towards the end, if you don’t compete at the level at which we did tonight and Nashville did tonight, you’ll find yourself not in a hockey game. Both teams were in a hockey game, it was a playoff style, very competitive game for me and not a lot of scoring chances, not a lot of room to make plays, you had to fight for everything out there, on both sides. But if you’re not ready to do that, you don’t do that, and you’re playing somebody that is – it might get lopsided out there.”

Speaking of Trotz, he didn't have a lot of kind words for Martin Erat, who was flabbergasted by Leino on the winning goal. Here's Trotz... a few times on Erat - without ever naming him).

"We came back twice in the game and tied it up and then just some coverage broke down. The low forward on the third goal(Erat) was really loose on Leino and then panicked and Leino executed. I thought we should have come out of here with a point."

Q: You said your team came back right after the Flyers scored, do you think it gave some momentum to the team?

“Absolutely, after they scored, they’re a good hockey team and obviously the top team in the East (more love for Lavvy) and we came back and responded and got a big power play goal. We should be able to hold them down; they really didn’t have much going on.
"That was really the only shift they had something going on after we scored the goal. Just forward low coverage, they (Erat) had Leino in the corner, then he moved it and they (Erat) just stood there and watched. You (Erat) have to be detailed and committed right at the end of the game and we lost, one guy made a mistake and it ended up in our net.”


By the way, Jeff Carter is the definition of streaky. He has seven 3-point games this season. That's 21 points in seven games. That means he only has 26 points in the other 45 games.