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]

Player standing outside NovaCare Complex hoping for shot with Eagles

Player standing outside NovaCare Complex hoping for shot with Eagles

Twenty-four-year-old Troy Beckett found a scrap piece of cardboard in his Willingboro, N.J. home, took a marker to it, and headed across the bridge. 

The former Willingboro High School and Bemidji State defensive back arrived to the NovaCare Complex at around 7:30 on Monday morning with a sign that reads: “Not homeless … But starving for that shot!!!” 

Beckett hopes he’ll get the Eagles’ attention and the team will offer to work him out. 

“I’m nothing special,” Beckett said. “I’m not a big story. I’m just trying to make a living playing the game that I love. I’ve been playing it since I was 5 years old.”

In 2009, Beckett graduated from Willingboro High School, where he played wide receiver and defensive back for the Chimeras. He went to little-known Division II Bemidji State in Minnesota to play football, but has been out of school for two years. 

He said he’s worked out for a few arena teams, including the Philadelphia Soul about a year ago. Nothing came from that workout. 

Beckett’s idea to stand outside the NovaCare Complex wasn’t his own. He said Joe Anderson, a wide receiver who stood outside of Houston’s NRG Stadium with a similar sign last year, inspired him. Anderson was actually signed to the Jets’ practice squad six weeks later. 

Beckett said he had a conversation with a friend last week, when the friend asked him why he never got a shot. So Beckett decided to head over the bridge on Monday. 

For now, Beckett has a job loading trucks. 

“I’m just looking for an opportunity to show this organization what I can do,” Beckett said. “I never got the big shot coming out of college, coming out of high school at the big name school or whatever.”

Beckett said it’s been tough to try to keep his dream alive. 

“It really is, man. It really is,” he said. “I’m 24 years old. I’ve been out of school now for about two years. I’m just looking for a fair shot. I’d be OK with myself if they said no. As long as they give me the chance to workout and showcase my talent, I’ll be OK.”

As of around 9:30 a.m. on Monday – two hours in – Beckett said he hadn’t yet talked to anyone from the organization. 

With temperatures expected to peak in the 90s on Monday, just how long does Beckett plan to stand by the NovaCare gate? 

“As long as it takes,” he said. “Until the parking lot is empty.”

And if nothing happens on Monday? 

“I’ll be out here tomorrow,” he answered. “I’ll be out here every day.” 

Dave Zangaro predicts Eagles' 53-man roster 3.0

Dave Zangaro predicts Eagles' 53-man roster 3.0

The Eagles are down to one final preseason game before they’ll have to figure out their final 53-man roster. 

But no need to wait, I have it right here. Or at least what I think it will look like after watching all of OTAs, training camp and the most important preseason games. The team made it a little easier with several key cuts on Sunday (see story)

Let’s jump right in: 

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz 
With apologies to the law firm of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, this was pretty easy. 

Running back (4): Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood
I toyed with the idea of taking Smallwood off the roster. I thought perhaps the team will try to stash him on IR — that quad could always act up again — and instead take Byron Marshall on the 53. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger. For now, the team will have to hope Mathews and Barner can carry the load while Smallwood gets caught up. 

Wide receiver (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner
I’m taking only five because the unit hasn’t been very strong. The team’s decision to cut Rueben Randle and Chris Givens on Sunday wasn’t very surprising to me. They were on prove-it deals and had only proven what the Eagles probably feared. Instead, the rookie Turner is on the roster, which is an important message for the team: Effort matters. Still, expect the Eagles to keep a watchful eye on the waiver wire here.  

Tight end (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale
Pantale isn’t nearly as good a tight end as the other three, but Doug Pederson seems determined to have him on the roster as a fullback and special teamer. Four tight ends and four running backs is tough to swallow in terms of roster spots available, but I think that’s the way it’s going. Look for Burton to have an increased role in the offense this year too. 

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Allen Barbre, Stefen Wisniewski, Matt Tobin, Halapoulavaati Vaitai, Josh Andrews
I left Lane Johnson off this list because he’ll probably be suspended by the season opener and won’t count against the 53-man roster. Wisniewski will be the backup at all three interior line positions. After cutting Andrew Gardner on Sunday, the Eagles will keep Tobin and Andrews as reserve linemen. Andrews played guard on Saturday — likely a chance for him to prove he’s not just a center. Keep an eye on tight end-turned-tackle Dillon Gordon too. He has an outside chance to make the roster and a very good shot to stick on the practice squad; very athletic and versatile player. 

Defensive end (6): Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Steven Means, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
Six defensive ends is a lot, but at this point, Braman isn’t really a defensive end. He’s just a special teams ace. And with the rotation at DE, I think it’s more important to have ends than it is to have extra players in the secondary. If the team is able to trade either Means or Smith, then this number could be down to five. 

Defensive tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart
During training camp, Jim Schwartz said to not count out Allen and Hart just because they didn’t seem to be scheme fits. Both have proven him right this preseason. Sure, undrafted rookies Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu have looked good, but they won’t be able to contribute as much this season as the veterans. At least one of those rookies should hold down a practice squad spot. Mike Martin was the third defensive tackle for a long time but was released on Sunday, after a few weeks of a knee injury. 

Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Stephen Tulloch, Najee Goode, Quintin Gause
Tulloch will be the primary backup at the MIKE, while Goode and Gause, the undrafted rookie from Rutgers, get the nods at the backup outside 'backer positions for now. But expect the Eagles to take a good look at the waiver wire for linebackers. 

Cornerback (5): Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe
If the Eagles keep five, I think these will be the five. Rookie C.J. Smith has been impressive but could use a year on the practice squad. I thought Denzel Rice, thanks to his special teams contributions, had an outside shot, but he was cut on Sunday. 

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins
A little light at safety, but Mills or Rowe could probably move back there if needed. Really, Jenkins and McLeod aren’t going to come off the field much as long as they’re healthy; there won’t be a rotation. If five safeties were to make the team, sixth-rounder Blake Countess would be the next one up. I think Ed Reynolds is a longer shot at this point.  

Specialists (3): Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos, Caleb Sturgis
After an impressive training camp, Sturgis takes down Cody Parkey for the kicker job. 

Practice squad: DT Destiney Vaeao, CB C.J. Smith, G Dillon Gordon, WR David Watford, WR Marcus Johnson, G Darrell Greene, LB Myke Tavarres, S Blake Countess, CB Aaron Grymes, RB Byron Marshall

Tales of Carlos Ruiz’s generosity still coming out of Phillies' clubhouse

Tales of Carlos Ruiz’s generosity still coming out of Phillies' clubhouse

NEW YORK — A.J. Ellis started (and starred in) his first game for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon (see game recap).
 
Carlos Ruiz has already been in the Dodgers’ lineup.
 
Initial reactions to the swap of backup catchers on Thursday has subsided, but there are still anecdotes worth sharing as it pertains to Ruiz’s impact in the Phillies’ clubhouse.
 
Here are a couple, compliments of Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis.
 
According to Franco, Ruiz viewed it as his responsibility to help young Latin players learn the ropes in the big leagues.
 
When Franco, a native of the Dominican Republic, came to the big leagues for the first time two years ago, Ruiz, from Panama, immediately reached out to him. Franco was just 22. Ruiz was 35 and had eight major-league seasons on his résumé and a World Series ring on his finger.
 
The Phillies were on a road trip and Ruiz told Franco to meet him in the hotel lobby one morning. They got in a cab and ended up at a stylish mall where Ruiz proceeded to purchase Franco some road attire — a suit, some nice shirts and a couple of ties.
 
“It was a beautiful thing he did for me,” Franco said. “Chooch was so good to me. I will never forget that day.
 
“The day he got traded, I called him. He had trouble talking because he was emotional. He almost cried. That boy is different. He’s special.
 
“I still have the suit. It is even more special now.”
 
Galvis also felt the warmth of Ruiz’s generosity.
 
He unexpectedly made the big club out of spring training in 2012 as a fill-in for injured Chase Utley.
 
There’s a lot of learning in your first season in the majors. Ruiz became Galvis’ tour guide.
 
“Every time we went to a new ballpark, he made sure to go with me on the first day so I would know where the entrance was, how to get to the clubhouse, things like that,” Galvis said. “He was always looking out for you.”
 
When Galvis broke camp with the club, he told Galvis, ‘You’re in the major leagues, you have to look good.’
 
“He took me out and bought me four suits, eight shirts and eight ties,” Galvis said with wide eyes.
 
That’s better than Franco did.
 
“Well, I was the only young guy on the team at that time,” Galvis said. “Chooch was good to me. That’s why I was sad to see him go, but also happy because he has a chance to win another World Series.”
 
Galvis, from Venezuela, and Ruiz were like brothers. At the all-star break in 2015, Galvis traveled to Panama with Ruiz for a few days of R&R.
 
In January, Galvis is planning to travel back to Panama. Ruiz and his wife are expecting a child.
 
“I am going to be the godfather,” Galvis said proudly.