When the Flyers signed Jody Shelley in the 2010 offseason, the club overpaid to lure the veteran enforcer away from the New York Rangers. He received a three-year contract worth $1.1 million against the salary cap.
Over the course of his tenure in Philadelphia, Shelley has been a good solider who has been unpopular with a segment of the fan base solely because of his contract. If he were earning $750,000 to $800,000 on his deal, there wouldn't be as many folks complaining about the salary he collects while playing sparingly.
Shelley has done whatever he can to make himself valuable to the team, beyond dropping the gloves. He does plenty of things that fans don't get to see and of which the media catches only glimpses, but which his teammates and coaches notice and appreciate.
For example, he spent much of the past season practicing as an eighth defenseman, although he never skated a shift on the blueline in a game. That allowed the Flyers to get reps for all seven of their roster defensemen; rolling out four pairs at practice when everyone was available or having a stand-in in case of maintenance days.
On a daily basis, Shelley was always one of the first players on the rink, and always available to put in extra work with any teammates who wanted it. In the locker room, he always made himself available. He was one of the veterans who went out of his way to make the many young players on the team feel welcomed. As a player who spent considerable time in the ECHL and AHL, he understands what it means to be in the NHL.
Off the ice, like many of his enforcer brethren, he is one of most genuinely likable people you'd ever want to meet. He's a family man with his priorities in order. There are no "good guy" points in the cutthroat business sides of hockey or the working world in general, but Shelley is the type of guy you WANT to see stay around for as long as possible.
Next season is the last year of Shelley's deal. At age 36, his days in the NHL are numbered. While the Flyers have thus far been unwilling to remove Shelley from their NHL roster, his spot may now be in jeopardy. He only dressed in 30 games this past season.
Prior to suffering a torn groin that ended his season (he was available for the playoffs but did not play), Tom Sestito showed some promise in the 14 games he played for the Flyers. While he got a little out of control at times -- earning a suspension from the NHL during the preseason (so did Shelley) and racking up 83 penalty minutes in the regular season -- Sestito also displayed the ability to skate with skill players and create room for them on the ice. He does have some work to do on his defensive game.
Sestito is not yet as good of a fighter as Shelley is. While the older veteran is prone to bleeding, there still aren't too many players in the NHL who are anxious to tangle with him. Shelley can still do plenty of damage with his punches. While Sestito is huge (6-foot-5, 228 pounds) he doesn't have as good of balance or as much fighting savvy.
Sestito has displayed hints of a scoring touch at the AHL level, but you know the old saying about what happens to the crusher who tries to be a rusher. His bread-and-butter is always going to be his size and physical game. At age 24 -- he'll turn 25 shortly before the start of next season -- there is still potential for improvement in all aspects of his game.
A restricted free agent this summer, Sestito made just $550,000 this past season. He is likely signable for close to the qualifying offer he is likely to receive from the team.
Nothing is going to be handed to Sestito in training camp. He had the opportunity to win an NHL job out of camp last preseason and did not play particularly well (even apart from the suspension). But if he comes to camp in top shape this summer and plays well during the preseason, it may be tough for Shelley to hang onto his NHL spot.
There are worse things in the world that could happen to Jody Shelley than to get paid $1.1 million to ride the buses in the AHL and be a veteran locker room mentor for a year for the youngsters at that level. Even so, if he were to pared off the Flyers roster by the start of next season, Shelley would be missed around the big club more than a lot of folks on the outside would realize. That's the tough side of the business.
For the record he makes only 900k next year.
Last edited by Beef Invictus: 05-26-2012 at 07:36 PM.
Reason: fixing quote box