Flyers Extras: Simmonds Concussion and Aftermath, Possible Trade Targets, & More

Flyers Extras: Simmonds Concussion and Aftermath, Possible Trade Targets, & More

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Washington Capitals defenseman John
Erskine was suspended three games on Saturday for throwing an illegal flying
elbow to the face of Wayne Simmonds one night earlier. Unfortunately, the
Orange & Black will probably wind up getting the worse end of the deal.
Shortly after the NHL came down on Erskine, Flyers general manager Paul
Holmgren revealed Simmonds is out of action indefinitely from a concussion
sustained as a result of the hit.

According to reports, Simmonds also
experienced whiplash.
Thankfully the winger’s noggin didn’t hit the ice, or
perhaps the whole ordeal could have been worse. Then again, we always have to
wait and see about the full extent of head and neck injuries. Officially there
is no timetable for Simmonds’ return, but he was not practicing as of Monday morning. [CSN]

The end result tends to make the
punishment handed down to Erskine seem a tad arbitrary. The Capitals lose their
man for three games – none of which are against the Flyers – yet who knows when
Simmonds can return. Erskine got off somewhat easier with the league’s
department of player safety thanks to a squeaky clean record, and head
disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan’s explanation of the incident holds up well
enough [via Puck Daddy].

Washington assistant coach and NHL
Hall of Famer Adam Oates shared something of a debatable position on the
subject though. Defending a 10-year veteran for playing the game, fine; calling
it “simultaneous contact” when one guy clearly hit another is over-the-top
defensive. Comments made before the suspension was handed down to the
Washington Post:

“I think
it’s really tough, because you’ve got two guys going for the puck
simultaneously and two big boys and it looked like simultaneous contact to me.
And he’s a clean player, so we’ll see.”

DEADLINE IS ONLY TWO MONTHS AWAY

It’s never too early – and I mean
never, Sam Carchidi – to start targeting players who might make the Flyers
better. 48-game season, 82 games, doesn’t matter. If a player is even so much
as rumored to be rumored-to-be on the trading block soon, we demand a full
investigation into the plausibility!

In Sunday’s edition of The Inquirer,
Carchidi looked at eight players Homer might be making calls about,
specifically names that could help spark an offense that is still tied for 25th
in the NHL even after this weekend’s five-goal outburst versus the Carolina
Hurricanes. Interestingly enough, the list includes three-time All Star Corey
Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, but only mentions Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan as
an afterthought [Inq].

Extra attention is already being
paid to a pair of forwards who were on Carchidi’s mind. First, colleague Frank
Seravalli makes a note in Monday’s Daily News that long-time Florida center
Stephen Weiss could be in the Flyers’ plans, based on a visit director of
player personnel Don Luce had at a Panthers-Sabres game over the weekend.
Seravalli describes Weiss as a consistent 60-point scorer who would serve as a
one-year rental, and one that wouldn’t require the front office to make any
additional moves to accommodate his $3.1M cap figure, either. [DN]

Our own Tim Panaccio suggested
even-longer-time Calgary Flame Jarome Iginla could be the right fit in
Philadelphia. The 35 year old is off to a slow start for the even
slower-staring Flame – four points and zero goals scored – but he has yet to
light the lamp fewer than 28 times in a season since 98-99. Given Iginla's
advanced age, Panotch speculates the six-time All Star could be available with
first-round Scott Laughton as the key piece of the deal. Hm… worth discussing at least, no? [CSN]

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!

Is there a person on the roster
Flyers fans dread seeing in the lineup more right now than Andreas Lilja? The
37-year-old defenseman has only appeared in one game so far this season, but it
was a doozy. Broad Street Hockey led with the relatively tame “rough night” to
describe Lilja’s efforts in last Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers
while providing a shift-by-shift breakdown of the performance. All told it was
less than 10 minutes of ice time, but Lilja clearly did more harm than good,
including a costly turnover in Philly’s zone that led to a goal – on his very
first shift no less [BSH].

BSH’s breakdown is a few days old of
course, and the fact that Lilja is a liability shouldn’t exactly qualify as
news. It is curious however what Lilja was doing out there for Kurtis Foster in
the first place. We can only hope it’s a mistake the Flyers won’t be forced to
endure again, especially after Foster scored a power-play goal and was credited
with an assist over the weekend.

We also bring it up now because
Seravalli believes reinforcements could be on the way for Philadelphia’s
defense. Blueliner Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Adirondack Phantoms
after an ankle injury, and the Daily News beat believes he could be back on the
big club before long.
Gustafsson was headed for the AHL All Star game before he
was knocked out, and Seravalli suggests he would have beaten out Foster or
Bruno Gervais or even both of them for a roster spot had he been healthy
for training camp. [DN]

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

The Phillies' starting pitching rotation, for the time being, features four arms that were acquired in trades that have coincided with the team's rebuild, which started after the 2014 season.

Nick Pivetta will become the latest to join the group when he is officially activated. He was in the Phillies' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but those plans changed when Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins was postponed because of rain.

No makeup date was announced.

The rainout means Pivetta's big-league debut will be pushed back. Vince Velasquez, Tuesday's scheduled starter, will pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins and Jeremy Hellickson will start the series finale Thursday. Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin are likely to stay on turn and pitch Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. That means Pivetta's debut will likely happen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not a bad venue for an unveiling. He does not have to be activated until that day. In the interim, the Phils are carrying an extra reliever in Mark Leiter Jr.

Even with the weather-related change in plans, Pivetta was thrilled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"I've achieved my goal of getting here eventually," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm happy to be here. I want to get my feet on solid ground right now and just take it one step at a time.”

Pivetta is a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. As a kid, he watched Toronto Blue Jays' games on television and idolized Roy Halladay. (see story).

Victoria must now be Phillies territory. Michael Saunders, the team's rightfielder, also hails from the town.

"You see it more and more, more Canadians getting into the game of baseball, so it’s always nice to see another one in the locker room," said Saunders, 30. "Clearly he’s pitched well enough to earn his way up here and I’m looking forward to seeing him play."

Pivetta is 6-5, 225 pounds. He was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The Phillies acquired him for Jonathan Papelbon and cash in July 2015.

Pivetta will take Aaron Nola's spot in the rotation. Nola is on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back. He could be back as soon as early next week.

Nola said he probably could have pushed himself and stayed in the rotation, but the team chose to be cautious.

"I don’t think it's any big thing," Nola said.

With Pivetta on board, the Phillies now have four pitchers in their rotation that came over in "rebuild" trades.

Eflin arrived in the December 2014 deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eickhoff came in the July 2015 deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers.

Velasquez came in the December 2015 trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

Pivetta did not immediately pitch well upon joining the Phillies organization. He had a 7.31 ERA in seven starts for Double A Reading in the summer of 2015. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 25 and walked 19.

Pivetta was a different pitcher last season. He registered a 3.27 ERA in 148 2/3 innings between Double A and Triple A, struck out 138 and walked 51. That performance earned him a spot on the team's 40-man roster.

“In 2016, he showed us the potential to be a really good major-league pitcher,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. “He was a little excitable after the trade in 2015, but he came back calm and confident last year. His stuff is legit — 93 to 96 (mph) with life on the fastball, good breaking ball and good feel for the changeup.”

His control continued to improve this season as he got off to a 3-0 start at Triple A. He pitched 19 innings, gave up just two earned runs, walked just two and struck out 24.

"Just getting ahead with my fastball," said Pivetta, explaining the early-season success that put him in line for the promotion. "First-pitch strikes are big. Even if I get into that 0-1 count or that 1-1 count, getting back to that 1-2 count is big. So being able to even up those counts have been really big for me, as well, and being able to finish off with my off-speed later in the counts, too.”

Pivetta pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. He made one start and took a no-decision in the team's 4-1 loss to Columbia. Pivetta worked four innings and allowed one run.

“That helped me," Pivetta said. "It was awesome. It was like having playoff baseball in March."

It's not clear how long Pivetta will stay in the big-league rotation. But he has more than put himself on the map, and if he continues to pitch well, he'll make more starts with the big club this season.

“I did not expect to be here this early in the season," he said. "I am happy to be here right now. I'll see how long I stay and just have fun while I am here.”

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Should the Eagles give Carson Wentz a say in who they take in the draft?

He is the future of the franchise after all.

"If there's any player on our roster that has insight into a guy in free agency or the draft, it's part of our information gathering," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said last Thursday.

So the Eagles will at least listen to Wentz — and others — about certain prospects. The second-year QB got a firsthand look at a few receiving prospects during offseason workouts. 

However, former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski thinks it would be a "mistake" to give Wentz any input into the team's draft decision-making. 

"I don't think the quarterback should have any input in the draft," Jaworski said Tuesday. "Plain and simple. The quarterback should quarterback his football team. I know he'll be a teammate, but the Eagles — like every other team in this league — do extensive scouting. They know what they're doing, they'll select the player they believe is the best player."

Jaws would know -- he made that very mistake once.

"I had someone ask me a question back in 1978 or '79," Jaworski said. "They said, 'Hey Jaws, what do you think the Eagles need?' And I said we could probably improve our wide receiver position. 

"Oh, by the way, Harold Carmichael is one of our wide receivers, the next time I saw him he said, 'Hey, what are you talking about?' So it was a mistake, and I apologized to Harold and that was the last comment I ever made about the draft and my teammates. So I think players ought to shut up and let the front office make those decisions."

To be fair, Carmichael held a little more weight in his day than Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham do now. 

Jaworski went on to tell a wild story of his own draft day in 1973 (watch video here), and also made the case for the Eagles to stock up on cornerbacks in the draft (watch video here).