Monday, August 08, 2005

Hold the enthusiasm

Wow! What a week!
Had a great vacation at the Jersey Shore. Excellent weather (hit the beach for at least a little while every day), seafood out the wazoo, very good fishing/crabbing (put it this way -- 3 meals worth of crabs and other seafood caught by myself and the young lad)... and terrific news about the Flyers.
So why am I a little shaky about what the "experts" are saying should be a solid favorite to cart home the Stanley Cup for the first time in more than 30 years?
OK, getting Peter Forsberg was an absolute stunner of the first degree. Getting Derian Hatcher didn't surprise me all that much -- he has a good history with Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. Getting Mike Rathje did surprise a bit... I've always liked him as a defensive d-man. Re-acquiring Chris Therien gives them some worthwhile depth on the blue line.
But the Flyers need to have a lot of potential fulfilled to be a real Cup contender.
* Keith Primeau needs to be the Primeau of the 2004 playoffs (9 goals in 16 games) and not the 2003-04 regular season (7 goals in 60 games).
* Simon Gagne needs to be an upgrade on the 2001-02 Gagne, who scored 30 goals, which he hasn't approached since.
* The rookies -- Jeff Carter and Mike Richards -- need to become legitimate NHL scorers. Not big ones, but legitimate 18-25 goal guys -- now.
Remember, since the Flyers last hit the ice, they have lost two likely Hall of Famers (Mark Recchi to Pittsburgh -- and watch out for them -- and Jeremy Roenick to L.A.) and two possible Hall of Famers (John LeClair and Tony Amonte) who have scored a ton of NHL goals. Their production must be replaced. Put it this way -- the Flyer who most recently scored 30 goals in a season was Mike Knuble, who got to 30 on the nose with Boston in 2002-03 while playing on a line with Joe Thornton and Glen Murray.
This assumes that goalie Robert Esche will be at least as good as he was the last time around and that everyone else does what they can do.
I still suspect Bob Clarke and Co. may have one more deal left before the season starts because of the depth at the center spot (Forsberg, Primeau, Carter, Richards, Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp). If Carter and Richards show that they can play with the big boys, Handzus -- who's really a pretty good all-arounder -- could fetch a 25-30 goal winger.
I must be a full-fledged Philly fan -- I see the clouds as well as the silver linings.
More on this to come, and more full-fledged blogging as I get caught up with the rest of the world.