Flyers content having prospects fill in for injured stars
by Kevin Kurz, philadelphiaflyers.com
Voorhees, NJ – Despite the efforts of the local beat writers that seem to be trying to drum up trade rumors, Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke and Head Coach Ken Hitchcock certainly appear to be happy with the many call-ups from their minor league affiliate and will stick with them at least for the time being.
The latest of the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms who are now thrust into the NHL spotlight are defensemen Freddy Meyer and Randy Jones. With Joni Pitkanen and Eric Desjardins now out of the lineup, Meyer was recalled in time for Tuesday’s thrilling shootout victory against Calgary. Meyer logged just under 20 minutes of ice time, mainly due to Desjardins leaving the game in the first period, and looked right at home in just his second career NHL game.
Jones, who is currently out of action after an appendectomy, is another young defenseman who could be recalled in another week or 10 days when he becomes healthy again if he is needed.
While the names may not be familiar to many Flyers fans, Hitchcock said they are both strong players who can compete at the pro level.
“We really felt at the start of the year, based on their play, Jones and Meyer deserved big cracks at the hockey club. If Freddy doesn’t get hurt [in training camp] he’s right there until the end. Jones was right there to the end,” said Hitchcock. “It’s not like these guys need a full year in the minors. These are championship, elite players in the American Hockey League. I don’t see why we can’t still remain competitive. I don’t see why guys like [Meyer] and Randy and Dennis [Seidenberg] can’t come in and help us. They were elite players in a very good program.”
R.J. Umberger was recalled from the Phantoms earlier this season and has been a key contributor
Seidenberg remains out for another week, at the most, according to Hitchcock while recovering from a broken right wrist.
One option that Hitchcock has been looking at is moving Sami Kapanen back to the blueline, where he played in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to injuries to the defense corps during the team’s run to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We’ve tossed it around depending on what Dennis’ situation is,” said Hitchcock. “Obviously, if Dennis can play we’re going to put him in. We need Sami up front. If Dennis can’t go until the weekend or Tuesday, then we’d use Sami over the next two nights [on defense].”
One option that does not appear to have any credibility is the Flyers making a trade to try and replace one of their top defensemen. Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke explained that for now, the team is just fine with using their younger players as a temporary solution.
“You’re not going to find someone to replace Pitkanen or Desjardins,” said Clarke. “The players that we use will do the best they can. They play the same style with the Phantoms and when we bring these guys up, they know how we play and how to play. They fit in easily, and they’re good players.
“Anyone who’s got a defenseman of that level of player isn’t going to trade him. The standings are so close from top to bottom that the players that I guess could be available wouldn’t be any better than anybody else we’ve got. At this stage, everybody still believes they are going to be in the playoffs, so why would they trade a competent defenseman?”
Clarke then reiterated the bottom line, which is that the Flyers have not suffered any noticeable drop-off even with their injury list seeming growing longer by the day.
“We’ll get over it. We’re not losing any games because of our injuries. We’re competitive every night, and our goaltender has been great. Our defense and forwards are playing [well] and playing together. It’s a good team