Thursday, March 09, 2006

Who are these guys?

Who is Niko Dimitrakos? Who is Denis Gauthier?
Actually, I'm aware of both, as a hockey nut.
And they are the newest Flyers, acquired at the trade deadline.
No Recchi. No Jokinen. No Samsonov.
But, for a change, Bob "Let's Make A Deal" Clarke didn't ship away the future for a run at the now. R.J. Umberger's staying; so are Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Freddy Meyer and Randy Jones.
So, what does all this mean for Flyers fans?
One fan's opinion:
1. Donald Brashear's days as a Flyers regular are basically done. The big guy hasn't adjusted well to the new NHL, and I suspect his meltdown against the Rangers clinched his fate.
2. Expect promising rookies Carter and Umberger to be paired with veteran Petr Nedved, who has played quite well since the Olympic break, on a Flyers' second line.
3. When Michal Handzus returns, he moves into a line between Sami Kapanen and fellow Slovak Branko Radivojevic.
4. Richards goes to a mixed-bag line with veteran Brian Savage and newcomer Dimitrakos. Then, when you add the top line of Forsberg-Gagne-Knuble, there's no room for Brashear or too-often-hurt Turner Stevenson. Hey, Ben Eager showed more than either veteran did and Eager wasn't supposed to be NHL-ready until next season.
5. Gauthier's real value is as a third-pair, 12-15 minutes a game hitter who can play more (and may have to if Derian Hatcher's knee bruise will require an extended absence). If Kim Johnsson can't come back (and from what I'm reading and hearing, I don't know that he can come back this season), Gauthier and Meyer become the third pair, behind Hatcher-Eric Desjardins and Mike Rathje-Joni Pitkanen. If Johnsson can return, Gauthier would be a good complement.
6. The Flyers didn't give up a core player, or a real prospect... Josh Gratton, who went to Phoenix in the Gauthier deal, is probably a career minor-league enforcer.
Dimitrakos could be a surprise for Flyers fans, since they see so little of the Pacific Division. He's still young (26), inexpensive (a factor with the salary cap) and plays both ends of the rink reasonably well. His arrival almost ensures that Savage won't be back next year, barring a remarkable streak down the homestretch or in the playoffs. Eager will be ready to move up to the NHL then.
Did Clarke trade for a Cup?
Not this year, I don't think.
Next year, however, is another story, and I really think next year is where the Flyers' brass is looking to.
Or so I hope.