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]

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

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Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.

On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.

#Klutch @klutchsports

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.

Good day of work!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.

That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.

Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

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Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

Tommy Joseph is back in the starting lineup … as he's expected to be for most of the final month of the season. Joseph bats fourth behind third baseman Maikel Franco.

Joseph did not start Tuesday night in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. The 25-year-old is hitting .251 with 17 home runs and 34 RBIs.

The slugger has a significantly higher average against left-handed pitching than righties, despite clubbing 12 of his 17 homers against right-handed pitchers.

Joseph has yet to faced Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.

In other lineup notes, Tyler Goeddel gets the start in left field and will hit eighth, while A.J. Ellis gets his second start as a Phillie. He'll catch Adam Morgan.

Here is the full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Freddy Galvis, SS
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Adam Morgan, P

For more on tonight's game, read Steven Tydings' game notes.

Villanova season preview: It's Zach Bednarczyk team now

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Villanova Athletic Media Relations

Villanova season preview: It's Zach Bednarczyk team now

VILLANOVA, Pa. — When star quarterback John Robertson suffered a season-ending injury early in Villanova’s 2015 campaign, Zach Bednarczyk was thrown into a difficult spot.

How could an inexperienced redshirt freshman be expected to replace the reigning Walter Payton Award winner? Could the Wildcats still accomplish all of their lofty preseason goals?

In the end, Bednarczyk probably handled it as well as could be expected, performing admirably in some spots (like when he spearheaded a late comeback against rival Delaware just after Robertson got hurt) and poorly in others (like when Penn upset Villanova for the first time in a century the very next week).

But now, after getting almost a full year of experience under his belt, Villanova head coach Andy Talley is expecting Bednarczyk to become a better, smarter player — and, most of all, someone who can lead the Wildcats into the FCS playoffs in Talley’s final season.

“I think the thing that he did last year was that he was a little bit of a gun-slinger,” Talley said. “He threw the ball around a little bit. Now he’s more judicious with where he throws the football, his outlet receivers. He’s not trying to gun the ball in all of the time and make a play.”

While Talley would certainly like his QB to cut down on some mistakes — he threw seven interceptions last season — he does appreciate that Bednarczyk possesses some of the same playmaking skills that made Robertson such a star at ’Nova, including the ability to gain yards on the ground.

In his first season last year, Bednarczyk led the Wildcats in rushing with 515 yards and five touchdowns while throwing for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to nabbing CAA co-Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

This season, which begins for Villanova Saturday at Pittsburgh, Talley hopes he can match those running totals while becoming a 2,000-yard passer with fewer interceptions.

“Last year he was rookie of the year in the CAA but he really could have been an all-league player if he didn’t throw the ball in some bad spots,” Talley said. “I think he learned the hard way by having the ball go against him. In the last game of the year, we had a chance to tie for the championship and go to the playoffs if we had beaten JMU. And he threw two picks that went back for touchdowns. So he’s sort of learned his craft the hard way.”

That season-ending loss to James Madison still stings for the Wildcats, who finished with a 6-5 overall record and missed out on qualifying for the FCS playoffs for just the third time in eight years.

That’s something they hope to reverse in 2016 under the growing leadership of Bednarczyk, who agrees with his coach that he needs to become a smarter player.

“Last year I definitely took too many risks,” the sophomore QB said. “This year, although I still want to throw the ball around because that’s my strong suit, I definitely don’t want to force anything. I’ll try to cut back on my turnovers. If it looks like it’s too tight of a window to squeeze it this year, I’ll just tuck it and run.”

Bednarczyk will certainly need to be poised in the pocket with Talley admitting that the Wildcats aren’t as deep at receiver as they’ve been in years past. 

At the same time, he may not have to put too many points on the board, considering how good Villanova’s defense can be. Although the unit graduated star linebacker Don Cherry, who’s been in preseason camp with the Eagles, they still boast a veteran unit that includes linebacker Austin Calitro and defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Kpassagnon, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound NFL prospect, is an especially intriguing player for the Wildcats.

“I think all the pro teams have been through to see him,” Talley said. “He can run. He’s tough. He diagnoses well. He’s in our business school, so he’s smart as can be. And he carries that over to the field.”

Kpassagnon, who was named to the CAA preseason all-conference team, is excited for his senior season but admitted that helping the Wildcats rise to the top of a loaded league won’t be easy. Villanova, which opens league play Sept. 17 vs. Towson, was picked fourth behind Richmond, William & Mary and James Madison.

“There’s no dropoff in competition throughout the CAA,” Kpassagnon said. “In some other leagues, there are a couple of teams that you know will obviously win the conference. But with ours, you never know.”

Of course, Villanova has aspirations beyond just winning the league. As always, the Wildcats — who check in at No. 23 in the STATS preseason Top 25 — will look to make a deep run in the FCS playoffs and, perhaps, try to send Talley out with his second national title.

“The goal is definitely a national championship,” Kpassagnon said. “We all believe we can do it. It’s something we have in the back of our heads.”