Over the weekend we learned the Flyers invited 38-year-old defenseman and 15-year NHL veteran Hal Gill to training camp, which opens this Thursday already believe it or not. Given the problems the Orange & Black had in their own end last season, it’s good to see they are still looking into options even as the start of the season rushes forth.
Of course, Gill is only with Philadelphia on a tryout basis for now, and it seems likely that’s all it will be. A huge part of the problem the Flyers had last season were injuries, but as Tim Panaccio points out, the club’s blueliners (minus Chris Pronger) are all healthy heading into this year’s camp. With nine defensemen already competing for ice time, Gill has his work cut out for him.
No matter, says Gill. He tells Panotch he’s just happy for any opportunity to continue playing, and it sounds as though he’s prepared to find another sweater to wear once his time in Philly runs out. Per our CSN insider on Sunday:
“I think I can go in and do the best I can,” Gill told CSNPhilly.com. “I know throughout the year there is going to be changes. I am certainly not looking at it as a guaranteed spot.”
“My agents talked to [Flyers GM Paul] Holmgren and I’ve been looking for a contract and also trying to get into a camp and be competitive and get into some games,” Gill said.
“I’ve been talking to Holmgren. I can go in there and at least be a presence in camp. Be a veteran in camp and help out that way and get in some games. It works out that way.”
Gill played 32 games for the Nashville Predators in a condensed 2013 season, logging a minus-3 over a little more than 13 minutes of ice time per night. He’s clearly lost a step at this stage of his career, and was never much of an offensive threat. However, Gill may still be able to help a club in a limited role as a third-line defenseman, or even on the penalty kill.
That club probably won’t be the Flyers though. One of Homer’s big moves this offseason was to bring in Mark Streit from the New York Islanders, while the Flyers also have a bevy of young players in their system who could push for ice time this season or in the near future. But again, it’s good to see the team is willing to exhaust all possibilities.
>> Gill on tryout with Flyers: 'A chance to play' [CSN]
Have any doubts about Joel Embiid's health?
Well take a look at this.
How about now?
Of course, this isn't live NBA action, and it is against 5-11 Drew Hanlen, a skills coach and consultant, but it's impressive nonetheless.
Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.
"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."
Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley.
Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.
"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy.
"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.
To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above.
The Eagles have a serious depth problem at linebacker, and they're looking at a local prospect to try to fix it.
The team will sign former Villanova linebacker Don Cherry on Sunday, pending a physical, a league source told CSNPhilly.com. ESPN's Adam Caplan first reported the deal.
Cherry, 21, first signed with the Bears after going undrafted in the spring, but was cut by Chicago in June.
The 6-1, 240-pound Cherry was an All-CAA selection as a sophomore, junior and senior. During his time on the Main Line, he was credited with 331 tackles, 46 1/2 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Even with Cherry, the Eagles are still light in the depth department at linebacker. After starters Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, the team has Najee Goode, Deontae Skinner, seventh-rounder Joe Walker and a couple of other undrafted free agents.
After cutting wideout Jonathan Krause on Friday, the Eagles had three vacancies on their 90-man roster. They're filling another of those openings with former Alabama safety Nick Perry, according to a league source. The perry deal was first reported by Al.com's Matt Zenitz. The 6-1, 211-pound Perry spent last season on the Ravens' practice squad after going undrafted in 2015.
Eagles training camp kicks off Monday, and the first full-team practice is Thursday.