Holmgren hopes to restock Flyers' cupboard at draft

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Holmgren hopes to restock Flyers' cupboard at draft

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted: 2:56 p.m.By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- It can be extremely challenging, let alone frustrating, for a hockey scouting staff to go into an NHL draft for the third consecutive year knowing that, barring a last-minute deal, they wont have a first-round pick.

Thats business as usual for the Flyers here at the Xcel Energy Center, though, where the teams brass has congregated for the draft, which begins Friday.

We made the deal for Chris Pronger and still recognize to this day that it was a lot to give up, said general manager Paul Holmgren, looking back to the draft two years ago that brought Pronger here.

You kind of lose the opportunity to draft a pretty good player when you dont have a first-round pick. We havent had that ability for two years and it looks right now we wont have that opportunity this year, either. Between now and the draft you never know what can happen.

Moving forward here, we have to think about restocking our cupboard and the best way to do that is still through the draft.

Unless the Flyers move some salary to lighten their cap and gain some draft picks for this particular draft, they will be left with just five picks this weekend. Their first pick comes in the third round at No. 84.

If the Flyers were willing to move Jeff Carter to Columbus, they reportedly could have the Blue Jackets eighth pick overall, plus right wing Jakub Voracek. That apparently is what Columbus GM Scott Howson would part with for Carter, a player he feels he needs to get the Blue Jackets over the hump.

The Flyers dont seem inclined to move Carter to clear cap space. And since the cap is rising next year to about 64 million, they now feel they only need to clear a little money to re-sign recently acquired goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Still, Holmgren would like to get into the first round somehow. A deal figures to go down this weekend.

There isnt a true consensus whether Red Deer center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Skellefte AIK defenseman Adam Larsson is the best player in the draft.

Holmgren thinks that Kitchener right wing Gabriel Landeskog can play right now.

The Flyers arent in position to get any of those players, but there is a feeling the talent level is even through the top 14 picks after those three.

This is a good draft, Holmgren said. I wont lie. I would like to have a first-round pick. But we traded our first pick this year for Kris Versteeg and were happy with that. Kris, given the circumstances, played well, and I think he will play a bigger role on our team this year.

You never say never, but I am certainly looking forward to the first round in the next draft (2012).

When Holmgren mentions restocking the franchise, part of that includes knowing that the club allowed four players to go unsigned this June.

Its not a perfect system, Holmgren said. You draft players and sometimes they dont develop the way they need to in that time frame. It happened. But we signed the big Finnish goalie Niko Hovinen and sort of filled the hole created by the loss of two unsigned goalies.

We signed some college guys the last few years where we feel weve filled some holes there, as well. Theres a give and take there. But moving forward, we need to hold onto our draft picks as best we can.

Since taking over the GM duties from Bob Clarke on Oct. 22, 2006, Holmgren has traded 25 draft picks and acquired 17.

That many? I wasnt aware it was that many, Holmgren said. Its a lot.

And regrets?

Doesnt make sense to look back, Holmgren replied. We have a good team. We have a lot of good pieces in place. Theyre going to be here for a while. Doesnt make any sense to look back.

Several of their prospects, such as Mike Testwuide, Ben Holmstrom and Erik Gustafsson, would be playing in the NHL right now if they were on some other roster.

Theres a logjam to make the Flyers roster given the vets ahead of these prospects. Yet the prospect pool overall within the Flyers isnt very deep in terms of guys being ready to play right now.

Defense remains a priority given Pronger and Kimmo Timonen are two of the oldest players on the roster.

We have to look at all our positions, Holmgren said of re-stocking. We signed Sergei (Bobrovsky) last summer and thought we got a real good goalie in our system and we feel that way with the guy we signed, Hovinen, too. But we will still look at this draft and take a goalie in this draft some where along the road.

On defense, we signed Gustafsson and were high on him. We signed a free agent Brandon Manning, were high on him and excited to see how he does this year.

Up front, if you count the college guys from last year, Holmstrom, Testwuide, Andrew Rowe, those guys are still prospects. Whether they play or now well see. Were high on Holmstrom and Testwuide playing games for us this coming season.

Guys we signed this spring, Harry Zolnierczyk and Matt Read, are guys we like and feel will play games for us this coming season.

On the Flyers organizational depth chart that sits in Holmgrens office, they have already penciled Read into Ville Leinos spot only because they arent sure they will be able to re-sign Leino.

The threat Ville goes elsewhere is real, Holmgren said. Matt we signed to a one-way contract because of his age. He is out of the entry system. He picked our team.

Can he play now? Well see. He went into the American league and played very well, and scored over a point a game. Hes a good, young player who plays both ends of the ice and skates well. He has good puck skills.

Whether he is ready or not, I dont know. Its a big jump. But he made the big jump from college hockey to the American league and he was arguably the Phantoms best player in the final 11 games. He produced. Hell get an opportunity in training camp. If he goes down for a while, its not the end of the world. Its still a jump to the National League.

Holmgren takes issue with the notion that his farm system is depleted.

I would disagree with that, he said. If you go through the American league, every team has 4-5 guys who are prospects, and we can certainly make that same argument, in all honesty, that there are 4-5 guys who are going to play for us.

What we dont have is high-end guys because we havent had a first-round pick in the last few years. Chances are, if you draft high in the first round, that player wont play in the American league anyway. He makes your team right away or he finishes his junior career and goes right to the NHL.

We have Gustafsson, Kevin Marshall, Oliver Lauridsen those guys are all legitimate prospects on defense. Then we have Zac Rinaldo, Ben Holmstrom, Testwuide

Is there another Claude Giroux down there? Thats where not having a first-round pick comes in, in my opinion. Were in line with other organizations that have prospects who can play.

What the Flyers need to do, however, is get a few more.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net. Follow him on Twitter at @TPanotchCSN.

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH -- To their credit, the Sharks regrouped after a miserable first period at Consol Energy Center in which it looked like they might get run out of the building.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Nick Bonino’s late third period goal pushed the Penguins to a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On the game-winner, Brent Burns lost his stick and couldn’t prevent Kris Letang from finding Bonino in front of the net with Paul Martin defending the slot. Bonino flipped it through Martin Jones at 17:27 of the final frame.

The Sharks went to the power play with 2:09 to go, but couldn’t tie it up.

Game 2 is in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Penguins dominated the first period, only to have the Sharks completely turn the tables in the second, resulting in a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.

The Penguins had the Sharks on their heels for virtually the entire opening frame, outshooting San Jose 15-4 and scoring a pair.

The first came at 12:46 of the first. On a rush, Justin Schultz’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and rookie Bryan Rust was there to smack in the loose puck.

Just one minute and two seconds later, the Penguins upped their cushion. Sidney Crosby tracked down a loose puck in the corner ahead of Justin Braun, calmly played the puck off his backhand and whipped a cross-ice pass to Conor Sheary. Another rookie, Sheary whizzed a wrist shot past Jones’ far shoulder.

It was evident early in the second, though, that San Jose had regrouped, as Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski both had good looks at the net. They broke through on an early power play courtesy of Tomas Hertl, who curled in a pass from down low off of Olli Maatta at 3:02.

Pittsburgh withstood a continual push from the Sharks for much of the period until Marleau’s late score. After Couture outworked Maatta deep in the offensive zone and pushed the puck to the point to Burns, Marleau secured Burns’ rebound and wrapped it around at 18:12.

Burns had two assists, and made a strong defensive play with about three minutes left in the first, backchecking hard and lifting up Carl Hagelin’s stick on a breakaway.

Special teams

The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the power play, on Hertl’s second man advantage goal of the playoffs. They are 18-for-65 in the postseason (27.6 percent).

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3, generating five shots on goal. The Pens are 15-for-67 overall (22.3 percent).

Marleau was whistled for an illegal check to the head of Rust in the third period, sending the 24-year-old to the dressing room for a brief stretch.

In goal

Jones and Murray were each making their first career starts in the Stanley Cup Final. Jones took the loss with 38 saves, while Murray stopped 24 San Jose shots.

Lineup

Sharks forward Matt Nieto remained out with an upper body injury.

Pavelski saw his seven-game point streak (5g, 5a) come to an end. Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz increased his point streak to six games (3g, 4a).

Up next

The Sharks are 5-11 all-time when losing Game 1 of a playoff series, but 1-0 this year as they came back to defeat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

Teams that win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship 78 percent of the time (59-18). The last team to win the Cup after losing Game 1 was the 2011 Bruins.

Pete Mackanin on deciding Ryan Howard's playing time: 'I think about it all the time'

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Pete Mackanin on deciding Ryan Howard's playing time: 'I think about it all the time'

A day after he made comments in Chicago that alluded to the trimming of Ryan Howard’s playing time against right-handed pitchers, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin sat at his desk, surrounded by reporters, and was pressed for 10 minutes on the issue of his declining, expensive and struggling first baseman and franchise icon.

Howard, of course, was penciled into the lineup in the cleanup spot against righty Tanner Roark for Monday’s 4-3 loss to the visiting Washington Nationals (see game recap).

A question of was barely out of a reporter’s mouth when Mackanin quickly interjected a “hell yes.”

It’s the hardest decision - what to do with the struggling Howard - he’s had to make in his brief time managing the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I think about it all the time,” Mackanin said.

“That’s the hard part of this job. It’s not just running the game, it’s handling the players.”

For now, Mackanin said, he hasn’t felt the need to talk to Howard about it. Howard, who sat Sunday for the second time in eight days against a righty, said Sunday he was unaware his manager was intending on reducing his playing time against righties (see story).

Once a platoon situation at first base, it appears the Phillies are going to take a longer look at rookie Tommy Joseph against right-handed pitchers in the near future.

“If I was going to sit (Howard) on the bench and he wasn’t going to play anymore, I’d have that conversation,” Mackanin said. “I think what I said was pretty obvious.”

“I didn’t say I was going to bench Howard.”

He didn’t Monday. Howard had good numbers against Roark, something he didn’t have against Sunday’s starter for the Cubs, John Lackey. So it looks like Mackanin’s decision will be based on matchups.

In his second at-bat Monday, a second straight strikeout on the night and 12th in his last 22 at-bats, Howard was way late on a 93-mph fastball on the outer half of the plate.

But he looked much better in his final two at-bats of the night.

In the bottom of the sixth, he drove a Roark changeup to the warning track deep in right-center, but Ben Revere closed quickly and made the catch.

In his last at-bat, after Maikel Franco led off the ninth inning with a double, Howard jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jonathan Papelbon and drove a double to the gap in left-centerfield, scoring Franco and putting the tying run in scoring position with no outs.

Those two swings were the ones Mackanin said Monday afternoon he “knew” were there. He later corrected himself and said it was more of a situation of “hope.”

Howard went 1 for 4 on the night. His May average is now .106.

“He needed to come through with a big hit and that was a huge hit, put the tying run at second base,” Mackanin said. “It was good to see.”

The Phillies are slated to face a righty in their next six games before facing Jon Lester and the Cubs at home next Monday. Joseph, who is hitting .278 with three home runs in his first 36 Major League at-bats, figures to get the start in the majority of those.

It’s a decision Mackanin says he’s going to make on a day-by-day basis.

He was asked if the front office, which is also in a tough spot and may have to do something soon, gave him any input on what to do.

“They don’t tell me who to play and when to play them,” Mackanin said. “I know that they want me to mix in Joseph against right-handers so that he doesn’t stagnate. That’s pretty much all I go by right now.”

A suggestion from upstairs isn’t unprecedented. It has already happened before during the young 2016 season.

“They asked me to - as bad as (Tyler) Goeddel looked early in the season - they asked me if I could try to mix him in a little more,” Mackanin said. “I said sure. I did, and he started hitting better. So now he’s playing more. Here we go, if you want to play more than you gotta hit.

“There’s nothing set in stone.”

NL East Wrap: Matt Harvey gets back on track in Mets' win over White Sox

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NL East Wrap: Matt Harvey gets back on track in Mets' win over White Sox

NEW YORK -- On the mound in the seventh inning for the first time this season, Matt Harvey gave up his first walk of the game and his second hit, leading to a sacrifice bunt and a second-and-third jam.

"You kind of think about the worst at that point," he said. "You start getting some negative thoughts that creep in your head."

But 11 days after disappointed fans at Citi Field booed him like a villain, the Dark Knight was back - at least for one afternoon.

Harvey retired Todd Frazier on a foulout and J.B. Shuck on a grounder to escape trouble, Neil Walker homered off Jose Quintana on the second pitch of the bottom half and the New York Mets beat Chicago 1-0 Monday to send the reeling White Sox to their seventh straight loss.

"Today's a big first step," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia got six straight outs to complete the two-hitter, preserving Harvey's first win since May 8. Harvey struck out six, walked two and threw four pitches of 98-98.5 mph after not topping 97.5 mph previously this season. He threw 61 of 87 pitches for strikes (see full recap).

Mallex Smith's 3-run triple powers Braves past Giants
ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz is showing he can be more than just a fastball pitcher - and that he can be part of the Braves' long-term rotation.

Foltynewicz continued his recent upswing by allowing only three hits and one run in six-plus innings, Mallex Smith hit a three-run triple and Atlanta beat Jeff Samardzija and the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Monday.

The Braves survived San Francisco's two-run, ninth-inning rally. They have won three of four and are 5-21 at home, still easily the worst in the majors.

Foltynewicz (2-2) gave up a leadoff homer to Brandon Belt in the second inning, but allowed only one other runner to advance to second.

Foltynewicz, 24, has had other recent strong starts, including eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win at Kansas City on May 14. His start on Monday may have been his most impressive demonstration of altering the speeds of his fastball while mixing in a curveball and slider (see full recap).

Locke tosses three-hit shutout against Marlins
MIAMI -- Jeff Locke tossed a three-hitter and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 10-0 on Monday night.

Gregory Polanco's grand slam, Sean Rodriguez's two-run homer, and David Freese's four hits helped power the offense for the Pirates, who won the first of a four-game series in Miami. The first two games were originally scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico, but were moved due to concerns of the Zika virus.

Locke (4-3) struck out one and did not walk a batter while throwing 67 of 105 pitches for strikes. It was his first complete game in 101 career starts. Locke retired 19 straight at one point and needed just six pitches to get through the seventh inning.

The announced crowd of 10,856 was a season-low for the Marlins, who entered the day averaging just under 20,000 (see full recap).