A Brief Summary of the Flyers' Moves on Day One; Voracek, Jagr, Lilja, Talbot

A Brief Summary of the Flyers' Moves on Day One; Voracek, Jagr, Lilja, Talbot

While many fans are still coming to grips with the fact that Jaromir Jagr will be wearing orange and black this season, it was not the only move that Paul Holmgren made today.

Not even close.

The Flyers began their busy day with an extension for the recently acquired Jakub Voracek, who came over in the Jeff Carter exchange. Then they signed free agent defenseman Andreas Lilja to replace the departing Sean O'Donnell, as well as luring center Max Talbot away from the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

ANDREAS LILJA
Lilja spent last season with Anaheim after spending the previous five in Detroit, where he was part of their run for the Stanley Cup in 07-08. The former second round pick of the LA Kings in 2000 turns 36 in less than two weeks, and he missed most of the 09-10 campaign with a concussion. He appeared in 52 games for the Ducks last season though, and as long as he stays healthy, the addition should solidify the back end of the Flyers defensive rotation. He's signed for three years at $1.7 million per.

MAX TALBOT
Just as it seemed like things couldn't get any crazier, the Flyers announced the signing of Talbot to a five-year, $9 million contract. Talbot played his entire six-year NHL career for Pittsburgh, and like Lilja, was a member of a Stanley Cup winner in 08-09, in fact scoring the series' decisive goal for the Pens. The 27 year old isn't a huge factor on the score sheet—generally registering slightly more than 20 points per season—but he figures to fill Philly's need for a solid third-line center and penalty killer.

JAKUB VORACEK
Earlier, the club came to terms with Voracek on a one-year offer worth $2.25 million. He who was a restricted free agent when the Flyers acquired the right winger from Columbus. No word on whether the two sides discussed anything long term, but Voracek certainly has the chance to create a bigger role for himself in the season ahead. The seventh overall pick in 2007 averaged 48 points across the last two seasons for the unheralded Blue Jackets.

JAROMIR JAGR
And then of course, there is Jagr. Matt covered the Jagr signing in detail, so we won't get too much into that, but at one year it seems like your prototypical low risk/high reward move. Along with Lilja and Talbot, it also appears one of the Flyers' goals with this round of signings was to surround their young team with players who have experience hoisting the Cup. Jagr may not be an instant fan favorite, but he fits the bill of a player who has had post-season success in the NHL.

THE SHAKE
Of course, this round of moves leads many to believe Ville Leino won't return. We've noticed the silky smooth Leino has become something of a fan favorite, and get the feeling he will be missed. There's no arguing his solid numbers (53 points in 10-11), but it seems the team and the winger disagreed on his value, so the franchise moved quickly to fill out the rest of their roster.

None of these moves should blow anybody away, and won't, but the Flyers apparently had a goal in mind. They added a group of cost-effective veterans who have gone the distance, and fill specific holes in the lineup. Time will tell whether this drastic shakeup achieves the desired result, but nobody can accuse the Flyers front office of sitting on their hands this off-season.

UPDATE: More moves, right this way. Kris Versteeg has been traded, and Ville Leino and Brian Boucher have signed with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively.

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

In his first month in the NFL, Carson Wentz's trophy case was filling up quickly. 

He won two NFL Rookie of the Week awards to go along with being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3 and the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month for September. 

It's hard to believe all of that happened this year. 

Since September, the Eagles have gone 2-7 and Wentz has looked like a rookie. Sure, the Eagles have some major deficiencies on offense that haven't made his life any easier, but it's no longer possible to simply overlook the regression of the No. 2 overall pick. 

Could this tough stretch negatively affect Wentz long term?  

"I don't think it's going to affect Carson going forward," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. "I just don't think it's going to affect him at all, because he's really a pro's pro and he's learning how to handle adversity for the first time, probably, in his career. It's something that we get to the OTAs and we get a full offseason in and we just continue to work on it."

It's fair to say the 2016 season was probably never really about this year and making the playoffs. It's clear the more important thing is to develop Wentz into the franchise quarterback they drafted him to be. But the one thing the team probably didn't want to see was regression. It seems like that's what has happened. 

In the first four games of the season, Wentz had a passer rating over 100 three times and hasn't done it since then. Take a look at the difference in the first quarter of his season compared to the next two. 

First four games: Completion percentage of 67 percent, 7 touchdowns, 1 interception, passer rating of 103.5. 

Next eight: Completion percentage of 61 percent, 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, passer rating of 70.1. 

The Eagles will enter their final quarter of the season when they host Washington on Sunday. The best way to avoid any long-term issues stemming from a tough rookie season is to end on a stronger note. 

"Well, you avoid it by trying to win a football game, and you try to win as many as you can now with these last four that we've got," Pederson said. "If you're looking towards next season, you always want to go out with a bang and try to win as many as you can down the stretch."

Way back in training camp, the plan was for 2016 to be a redshirt year for Wentz. He was supposed to sit behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, but Bradford was traded and the Eagles elected to start their prized quarterback from the onset. 

Wentz went from a redshirt season to being on pace to throw 603 passes, which would shatter the Eagles' record for a single season. 

"These are some of the decisions that I made back when the trade was made that if there was going to be some growing pains, these were going to be some of the pains we were going to have to go through," Pederson said. "And just him understanding and him learning and us growing together as an offense, he and I growing as coach and quarterback together, it's all part of the process."

Wentz and Pederson seemingly had a disagreement after Sunday's game, when Pederson attributed Wentz's struggles to mechanical problems, while Wentz denied that was the case. Pederson held firm to his belief that those mechanical issues can be corrected and it's probable Wentz spoke out of frustration on Sunday night. 

If Wentz is frustrated, it would be understandable. It hasn't been an easy couple of months. 

"I see him handling it well," Pederson said. "These are discussions that we will have, myself, [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank [Reich], Carson [Wentz], as we talk to him, because we've played obviously at this level, and my experience, even in this city playing and knowing what that's all about, we can really help him. It’s our job to help him and make sure that he stays on track and stays focused and he doesn't get derailed by anything that's coming from the outside."

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days.