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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Just got off the phone with someone I trust.

I was told Jagr has already told Lemieux that he's going to sign with Pittsburgh and that the Penguins have a huge front page for their Web site ready to go live at Noon tomorrow with a big "welcome home" theme.

Why the delay then?

From what I was told Jagr's agent Petr Svoboda may have been trying to lure another team into offering Jagr a bit more money so he can put a PR spin like "I turned down more money to come back to Pittsburgh."

Is it possible the Flyers are that team?

Maybe. Maybe not. There is no evidence that the Flyers even made an offer, although they have discussed the possibility.

But if it's true, it wouldn't surprise... Jagr needs to make a splash after being gone for three years.

However, Jagr is aloof enough that maybe, just maybe, he's changed his mind.

Get some sleep tonight. Tomorrow is going to be cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I got to tell you, I found it funny this morning that some of my colleagues from other media outlets wrote stories in direct conflict with one another regarding the Flyers and the possibility of trying to pry Steven Stamkos away from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It's funny how you ask one guy in the organization and he tells you one thing then you ask someone else and they give you a completely different story.

It's all part of the game as a beat reporter - trying to decipher what's fact and what's simply lip service or team-oriented spin doctoring.

Doing my best source-to-English translation, here is what I've been able to glean regarding Stamkos.

The Flyers would love to be able to go after him and have discussed a possible offer sheet that could cripple the Lightning and force them to trade him to the Flyers.

But, there are many pitfalls that have left the Flyers deciding if they want to get involved in a game of chicken.

First, they have to make sure they can put together a contract offer that not only would force Tampa into submission, but would be manageable enough on the Flyers end to be able to move other pieces around to make sure they could work within the confines of the cap.

Secondly, they have to make sure their offer is the best offer. There are a lot of other teams interested in signing Stamkos to an offer sheet and many of them are in a better cap situation to offer a maximum allowed deal, which would better the Flyers.

Then there's this little-discussed ramification:

If the Flyers do extend an offer sheet, Tampa has seven days to match. If the Lightning drag it out to the last possible day, it could hamstring the Flyers come Friday, when the free agency signing period begins.

They can only exceed the $64.3 million cap by 10 percent during the summer, so they need to be careful.

In a lot of ways, that's why everything is being played out so cat-and-mouse-like.

My prediction is the Flyers will make an offer, because that is their aggressive style, as will other teams.

However, I believe Tampa matches and clears out some other salary - like Ryan Malone - to keep Stamkos.

The Flyers will then turn their attention elsewhere and find a handful of solid, character-oriented guys - with skill mind you - to fill out the roster.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Where to begin?

I never expected BOTH Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to be traded, never mind on the same day, so that's crazy.

But now we have to move on. Here are the things I have learned since the deals went down this afternoon:

1. The Flyers are in love with Brayden Schenn. He's not going anywhere. He is being looked at as a lynchpin to the future. And, the Flyers think he'll play in 2011-12.

2. The Flyers WILL NOT try to trade for Stephen Stamkos. I was offered $1 million (jokingly) by a Flyers source if I could come up with a trade for Stamkos that would work with the salary cap AND would be acceptable to the Lightning. Couldn't do it off the top of my head, but after a good night's sleep, maybe I'll try.

3. The Flyers would love to draft Gabriel Landeskog tomorrow night, but he won't be there at No. 8. So, they will try to move up to get him. Whether they'll be successful or not remains to be seen. Maybe Florida will trade back and take on another salary - Hey, they need to get $30 million in salary just to reach the Salary floor... might make sense.

4. Sergei Bobrovsky isn't long for the Flyers. At $1.75 million and an inability to be sent down to the Phantoms makes him undesirable financially as a backup goalie. Plus, even though the Flyers are $7.5 million under the cap (probably more like $11.8 million if you consider them waiving Michael Leighton and Matt Walker and putting Ian Laperriere on the long-term injury list) they want or need to sign a bunch of free agents, mostly restricted. They include:

5. Ville Leino

6. Wayne Simmonds

7. Jakub Voracek

8. Darrell Powe

9. Andreas Nodl

10. After that, I'm told the Flyers are looking for a few "character guys" to round out the roster. One of which needs to be "another Lappy," according to a team source.
While I'm not sure there is another Lappy out there, here are a few guesses - and they are just guesses, as none have been fed to me by a source, but are the kind of players they may want.

11. Brooks Laich

12. Cory Stillman

13. Pascal Dupuis

14. Joel Ward

and on defense....

15. Sean O'Donnell

16. Eric Brewer

17. Brent Sopel

But, let's just get to tomorrow first. This has been one heck of a day.....


So much for the core of the Flyers.

The Flyers have traded Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets and less than an hour later shipped captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Carter trade was something we first discussed on this blog a couple weeks ago, but Flyers execs told me was not going to happen.

Well, it did.

The Flyers will receive 21-year-old forward Jake Voracek and two draft picks in this weekend's draft - the Blue Jackets first rounder (8th overall) and a third rounder.

The later sent Richards to Los Angeles for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second round pick.

Guess the relationship between Richards and coach Peter Laviolette was sour enough to force that trade out west.

The Flyers may not be done. I've heard there are more rumblings with the Flyers who are looking to make a major acquisition.

Also, sources have confirmed the Flyers have agreed to a contract in principal with Ilya Bryzgalov for nine years and $51 million.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I don't usually put a lot of stock in the NHL Awards. Here's a secret - I hardly ever watch the show.

Watching it this year, I now remeber why - as Jay Mohr is a horrific host, and the thing moves along at such an awkward pace with mistakes galore - like Mohr pronouncing the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning's name as Steve Why-zerman and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills pronounced the name of Tampa's star forward as Mar-tin Saint Lew-is.

Now, as has been well documented in the past on this blog, my confidence level in my fellow hockey scribes to get these things correct is pretty low.

However, we did a fine job this year - and not just because Ian Laperriere won the Masterton Award (more on that in a minute).

But, we voted the right guy for the Hart Trophy in Cory Perry of Anaheim. We voted the right guy for the Norris Trophy in Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit. We voted the right guy for Lady Byng in Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay.

Yes, I voted for each of those guys to win - along with Laperriere.

And even though I didn't vote for Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, who won the Selke Award, he was quite deserving (I hemmed and hawed between him and Boston's Patrice Bergeron - who wasn't a finalist - and voted for Bergeron).

Even Carolina's Jeff Skinner was a deserving winner for the Calder trophy (I had him third behind Logan Couture and Michael Grabner).

But there was nothing better than seeing Laperriere win. It's one thing for you fans to be excited about Lappy - because you have built such a tight bond with him in a short period of time.

But for those of us who cover him on a daily basis, I can tell you, he's easily one of the best, if not the best, professional athlete we've ever covered when it comes to off-ice professionalism.

I think I can speak for each of my colleagues on the Flyers beat when I say that we all were thrilled to see Lappy win.

That might not be real objective - but if there were ever a time for us to break that journalistic tenet, this was it.

Kudos to Wayne Fish of the Buck County Courier Times, who assisted me in presenting this to the rest of our chapter as a possibility for the Masterton and kudos to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News, Delco native Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post of New Jersey and Tim Panaccio of for making our choice unanimous.

Finally, even though this is the third time I've posted this, in case you missed it, here, in it's entirety, was the nomination petition that I wrote for Lapperriere:

There are three qualities that identify a Bill Masterton Award nominee: Perseverance, Sportsmanship and Dedication to the sport of hockey. In Philadelphia there is only one player who exemplifies all three - and he hasn't played a game all season.
Ian Laperriere's hockey career spanned parts of 18 seasons with five different teams. In 2009-2010, he was an integral part in the Flyers unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals. As one of the best penalty killers and shot-blocking forwards in the sport, Lapperriere sacrificed his career and long-term health, blocking a Paul Martin slapshot with his face in the first round of the playoffs against New Jersey.

The damage was severe - A concussion, a fractured orbital bone, an absurd number of stitches, and a spot on his brain from where the impact took place.

Yet, this did not deter Laperriere, who returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers playoff run that ended two games short of a championship.

Laperriere gave it a go in training camp this season with the Flyers, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season.

It is likely that Laperriere will never play hockey again, although he hasn't officially retired from the league.

Yet, while a player with a long-term injury could simply stay away from the rink, Laperriere has meant so much more to the Flyers organization.

He continues to be a representative of the team at many charity functions. He accepted an award on behalf of his teammates at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Banquet. He still frequents many games as an eye in the sky, watching from the press box and talking to the players about his observations directly after games.

But, most importantly, Laperriere has remained a mentor for many of the young players in the Flyers organization. Laperriere befriended several young players last summer when they were in Philadelphia working out and took part in rookie camp. All of them were re-assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL and when the Phantoms were going through an horrific start to their season, Laperriere made a trip to Glens Falls, N.Y. on his own to check in with the young players and to offer them advice on how to turn their season around.

While it didn't get the Phantoms into the playoffs, it certainly made them a better and more competitive team over the course of the second half of the season.

Laperriere's longevity in the sport of hockey shows his perseverance. As a well-liked and well-respected player on the ice, in the locker room and by the fans - videos of him on the big screen still garner standing ovations in Philadelphia, which is unheard of for a player who played just one year in the city - shows he is a shining example of sportsmanship.

And his continued dedication to the Flyers and their future despite the uncertainty of his own puts him at the forefront of a list of people dedicated to the sport of hockey.

It is with that said that the Philadelphia Chapter of the PHWA emphatically supports Ian Laperriere as our most deserving Masterton nominee in a long, long time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


UPDATED: Spoke to another Flyers executive who denied these talks took place.

He said that a lot of teams - including the Columbus Blue Jackets - have called asking about Jeff Carter.

"Just like everyone else they were told no," the exec said.

While conversations between Paul Holmgren and Columbus GM Scott Howson have taken place, this executive said it was "nothing on that level."

That could be interpreted as a smaller deal with the Jackets could be in the works, or that the executive was trying to divert attention away from a bigger deal.

Below is the original story I wrote. Another item of note us that if the Rangers pull out of the Winter Classic, I've been told the frontrunner to replace them is Chicago, who have a trip East planned at the turn of the calendar and on a preliminary schedule are due to stop in Philly Jan. 5.

Boy, make a deal for a pending free agent and it gets everybody worked up in a tizzy, doesn't it?

As expected, the rumors about how the Flyers will manage to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, the goalie whose exclusive negotiating rights they acquired from Phoenix yesterday, rolled out en masse Wednesday.

None of them really seemed to have legs... that is, except one.

According to several sources in multiple cities, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has spoken several times with Columbus Blue Jackets G.M. Scott Howson about a possible deal before the June 24th entry draft.

The deal would have the Flyers trading Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets for restricted free agent Jakob Voracek and the Blue Jackets first round draft pick which is eighth overall.

Mathematically this makes sense. Carter's $5.25 million salary cap hit would be shed to make room for the big money Bryzgalov is looking for (rumored to me in the neighborhood of $30 million over five years).

Meanwhile the Flyers would have a lottery pick in a draft in which they have very few selections, and would acquire the 21-year-old Voracek, who just completed his entry level contract that finished with a cap hit of $1.27 million (including bonus money).

Voracek is an interesting piece to the equation because he plays the wing - an area of need for the Flyers - is durable, having missed only five games in his three NHL seasons, and has put up good offensive numbers for a young player:

2008-09: 9-29-38
2009-10: 16-34-50
2010-11: 14-32-46

The Flyers would simply have to offer Voracek a qualifying offer of 105 percent of his 2010-11 salary - which is $826,875 - because it is based on the actual salary ($787,500), and not the cap hit that includes bonus dollars.

However, while that all sounds good numbers-wise, the big question is, does this have a realistic chance of happening?

Outside of Philadelphia the belief is yes, as NHL folks affiliated with two other teams - one in the Eastern Conference and one in the Western Conference - think this deal could go down anytime in the next 16 days.

However, here in Philadelphia, it is being shrugged off as simply a rumor.

"(It) isn't true," said one Flyers' executive who declined to elaborate further.

And it might not be. There are a lot of people in the organization who really like Carter and what he brings to the Flyers. However, when asked last month about what the offseason might bring, the same executive told me:

"We will get a goaltender. Whether it's by trade or through free agency we will get a goaltender."

And when I asked how they planned to afford said goalie, the response was:

"Sometimes you have to give up something of value to get something of value."

Carter might not be that specific value, but he makes the most sense - especially since he's a natural center and the Flyers have one-too-many at that position with Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts.

If it's not Carter that is going to be moved, then it means Flyers will have to shed multiple pieces in order to create the space needed to sign Bryzgalov.

Holmgren continues to say "I like this team," the way it's made up. If that's so, then why would he break it apart considerably for the goalie addition? He wouldn't, which is why Carter still remains the likely candidate to go - whether it's to Columbus or somewhere else.


Here's another interesting note:

According to an NHL source, the New York Rangers may not be the Flyers opponent for the Winter Classic after all.

The game, slated for Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park, hasn't been formally announced by the league yet. That's because the Rangers are allegedly waffling about whether they want to participate in the game or not.

It's no secret the Rangers would like to host the Classic at some point, but are bereft of a venue to do it right now - although there is an idea that has been quietly discussed about bringing in portable stands and lights and holding the game in Central Park at some point down the road.

However, the Rangers are up in the air about the game, allegedly because they are already taking part in games in Europe to start the season and adding the Winter Classic to that hectic schedule could be too much of a distraction (Especially with HBO cameras around... um... 24/7).

As such, the league is looking into alternatives to play in the game against the Flyers but still want the Rangers to be the Flyers' opponent.

They are willing to give the Rangers a few days, but the league wants to make the official announcement of the game as soon as possible, so they won't wait long and might choose a different route (Chicago? Detroit? Toronto?) if the Rangers can't make up their mind soon.


One last item....

I was told on Twitter after last night's blog posting by a couple astute readers that Sergei Bobrovsky is now waiver-eligible because he appeared in 60 games for the Flyers last season - including playoffs.

That means in order to be sent down to the Phantoms, he would have to clear waivers. That's obviously not going to happen now.

If Bobrovsky would have only played 59 games (or fewer), the Flyers could have sent him down and called him back up as often as they would have liked next year. Now, they can't.

The tipping point for this change in status came when Bobrovsky relieved Brian Boucher in Game 2 against Boston when Boucher suffered a hand injury that cost him the last five minutes or so of the second period.

Bobrovsky finished the period but Boucher returned to start the third period.

That brief snippet of time ultimately cost the Flyers the ability to send him down to the AHL. Bobrovsky relieved Boucher in Game 3 for appearance No. 59 of the season and then started Game 4 for appearance No. 60.

Maybe Bobrovsky is part of the trading block too no? Otherwise, why sign Brzygalov for five years? Isn't Bobrovsky supposed to be "the future?" When? 2016-17?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


You've heard about the trade by now:

The Flyers traded Matt Clackson, a 2012 3rd round pick and a conditional draft pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for the negotiating rights to soon-to-be free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Paul Holmgren held a conference call tonight and said all the expected things - like they wouldn't have done the deal if they didn't think they could sign Bryzgalov.

And that they have options on the roster to help get them below the salary cap.

But he had a few additional interesting items that didn't make the original story that you'll see in print tomorrow morning or online in a few hours when our Web site finally posts my story.

Here they are:

On signing Ville Leino as well as Bryzgalov:

"We still have the intention of trying to sign Ville, (but) with the salary cap you can only do so much."

Translation: Thanks for your time Ville.

On if Bobrovsky is still the goalie of the future:

"I don't know... I still think the world of Sergei and I think he's one of the top young goalies in our game. Having said that... we continue to try to make our team better. Right now, the position we've put ourselves in, negotiating with Ilya, if we can get him signed, it'll make our team better."

Translation: Ilya Bryzgalov is the goalie for right now and the forseeable future. Where Sergei Bobrovsky ends up remains to be seen. Personally, I think there's a better chance that he plays a full season with the Phantoms or is traded away than he spends the season as Bryzgalov's backup. Of course, if they don't sign Bryzgalov that could change. And if my opinion seems a bit crazy then take this...

Asked about Bryzgalov's workload in Phoenix (he played 68 and 69 games in each of the past two seasons) if he expected the same thing here if he signs, here's what Holmgren said:

"If we can sign Ilya he's a guy used to the workload... He played 70 in Phoenix, maybe he can play 65 here. With I assume easier travel than they have in Phoenix maybe he can play more than 70. We'll just play that as it goes if we can accomplish what we need to accomplish and get him signed."

Translation: If they're even thinking about Bryzgalov playing 70 games (or more) then Bobrovsky will never develop as a backup. Bold prediction: someone else is brought in to back up Bryzgalov, Leighton is bought out (or waived to the minors) and Bobrovsky is either sent down or traded.


Asked if he has a deadline in mind for when he feels he needs to know if Bryzgalov will sign with the team, Holmgren offered this clue:

"I think we have some time, (but) ideally before you get to the Draft you'd like to know if you have a deal in place and then we'll see what we can do at the draft in order to - we need to make some adjustments or whatever."

Translation: Expect the Flyers to be active with wheeling and dealing leading up to the draft and possibly at the draft itself. The more active they are, the more likely a deal with Bryzgalov is a definite.