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Flyers lineup changes: Danny, Matt and the two Steves

Saturday, November 8, 2008

For those of you who are experiencing a crazy weekend—as I currently am—I thought perhaps we should cover the roster movements of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning before their tilt.

1. Paul Holmgren sent Steve Eminger, Steve Downie, and a fourth round pick south to Tampa in exchange for defenseman Matt Carle and a third round pick.
There should be an award for hockey executive of the year, something separate and distinct from the Stanley Cup. Paul Holmgren continually demonstrates a stunning ability to improve his roster at every turn. This particular trade could not have come at a better time. The Philadelphia Flyers needed a jolt to propel them out of the rut, the type of jolt that only roster changes can produce.

More importantly, Holmgren managed to acquire the best player involved in the trade, and as is often said in hockey circles, the team who ends up with the best player wins the trade. Matt Carle showed impressive offensive ability during his freshman campaign, a season in which Ron Wilson had the San Jose Sharks playing some seriously defensive hockey. His struggles as a sophomore left him as bait in the Dan Boyle trade, and playing under Barry Melrose didn’t seem to improve his game. John Stevens is far more adept at developing his players. I expect to see big things from Matt Carle in Philadelphia this season.

As for Eminger and Downie, I wish both the best of luck. Eminger struggled to find a rhythm in Philadelphia. After his repeated failures to be effective offensively in Ottawa (I counted at least four times when he fumbled the puck at the blue line during a power play), it was only a matter of time until he found a new home.

For Downie, this move is more about change of scenery. There’s too much depth at the forward position in the Philadelphia Flyers for Downie to earn his spot in the Orange and Black. With prospects like Andreas Nodl, Claude Giroux, Jonathan Matsumoto, and James van Riemsdyk chomping at the bit, Steve Downie became the most expendable piece. His lack of discipline only speeded the process.

2. Danny Briere will play in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The rate at which NHL players are healing these days is incredible! Just two weeks ago, Danny Briere went under the knife to repair a torn abdominal muscle (also known to us common folk as a sports hernia). Who imagined he would only miss six games due to the surgery? Having him back should add even more punch to the first line and bring some additional leadership back to the locker room.

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