Reintroducing the New Philadelphia Flyers

Reintroducing the New Philadelphia Flyers

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Over one half of a calendar year has passed since the NHL
entered its traditional offseason mode. Normally by now we would be familiar with
the new faces that came to Philadelphia by way of either free agency or trade.
Instead, after a lockout that lasted over 100 days, it’s understandable if you’ve
maybe forgotten a few of their names. This here is a quick refresher on the comings and goings,
most of which went down over the summer.

Ruslan Fedotenko

Fedotenko isn’t exactly a new face given that he began his
NHL career with the Flyers in 2000, but it’s been 10 years since he last suited
up in Orange & Black. Back on a one-year deal, Feds won’t replace Jaromir Jagr’s
scoring or skate on the first line, but he’s a veteran two-way player who can
man either wing. Instantly becomes the only player in the locker room to have hoisted
the Stanley Cup twice: once with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, then again
with the Pittsburgh Penguins in ’09.

Kurtis Foster

Fresh off the airplane, Foster of course just joined the
Flyers over the weekend, so no refresher needed there. No mystery why this
journeyman blueliner with nine NHL seasons under his belt was brought in,
either. Depth is an issue, especially with Andrej Meszaros still recovering
from a torn Achilles tendon, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson also banged
up at the moment. If nothing else, the 6-5, 225-lbs. Foster gives them another
able, big body who could perhaps become a fixture on the third pairing – sort of
what they were hoping for when they made a deadline deal for Pavel Kubina last
season.

Bruno Gervais

With Foster suddenly in the picture, it’s not quite as clear
where Gervais fits. Short-term, he could see some significant ice time given
all of the injuries to defensemen, but down the road one of them is likely going
to wind up giving way to Mez or Bourdon or both. He signed for two years
though, so he certainly appears to be a piece of the puzzle. He’s never
finished as a plus or even player in seven seasons, so there is that – although
the first six of those were with the New York Islanders, and last season with
the Lightning.

Michael Leighton

Technically the Leight Show never actually went anywhere.
Instead, he spent the entirety of last season and all but one game in ’10-’11
with Adirondack. With Sergei Bobrovsky traded to Columbus in the offseason,
Leighton resigned to be the backup. Bob obviously had potential, but Ilya
Bryzgalov is the type of goaltender that seems to get better the more he’s on
the ice, so rather than stunt a young player’s development, they flipped him
for draft picks and went with a low-cost solution.

Luke Schenn

The big offseason move was shipping James van Riemsdyk to
Toronto in exchange for Schenn, a swap of two promising, young players who have
yet to realize their potential. The concern is Brayden’s brother will never
live up to being the fifth-overall selection in the 2008 draft. However, he’s
only 23, and when you look at the sheer dearth of talent on the Maple Leafs
roster, it’s hard to say how much of the problem was Schenn, and how much of it
was skating with a bunch of minor leaguers. One thing is for sure, with Matt
Carle moved on to Tampa Bay for six years at $33 million, the elder Schenn will
have every opportunity to make his mark on Philly’s back end.

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Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

There hasn't been much Eagles talk recently. The last few weeks have been pretty dead. 

That's about to change soon enough. Next week, the football world will take over Indianapolis for the combine and just after that, free agency will begin on March 9. After that, the draft isn't too far away. 

So let's jump into your mailbag questions: 

Yeah, I think there's a real chance Bennie Logan isn't an Eagle next year. Howie Roseman has been pretty consistent in saying he wants Logan to return, but it's fair to wonder about the price. Logan has now proven that he can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme, so there will be plenty of teams interested. 

If the Eagles lose Logan, their defense will take a big hit. There's not really a way around that. He's a good player and has been an important part of the line. But with a ton of money devoted to the defensive line over the next few years -- even assuming Connor Barwin isn't back -- will the Eagles pay another? I'm not so sure. 

And I agree that Logan was really good against the run last year. But I think his real value is in being great against the run while also being able to generate some pass rush. I think Beau Allen can be a decent run-stuffer, but he's clearly not the same player as Logan. 

I can't give a real answer here. Sorry. While I don't wholeheartedly agree with the best player available notion, the Eagles also can't prioritize one need over the other in this scenario. There will be either 13 or 14 picks before the Eagles are on the board. 

Really, it's going to depend on which players are left. Are Mike Williams and Corey Davis on the board? How about the top corners? There's a lot of them. If the player the Eagles really want at one of those positions is off the board, they could look elsewhere. And it's not automatic they'll take a receiver or a cornerback. What if they opt for an edge rusher? 

But getting back to corner vs. receiver, there are a couple thoughts: 

1. They'll pick a corner because receivers are far from a sure thing. Roseman made it a point to talk about how the 2014 draft changed expectations for rookie receivers. And the Eagles haven't had much luck recently drafting receivers in the first round. And Roseman has also said that while it might make sense to grab a first-round corner in the second round because of depth, there's often a run at positions where a draft is strong. It would be better to just get the best one. 

2. On the flip side of that, maybe they'll pick a receiver with the idea that at least one really good corner will be on the board in the second round. That would maximize value, especially if they get the receiver they want in the first round. 

That's a long way to say: I don't think it'll be about position as much as it will be about the specific player at 14 or 15. 

This is a tough one. I really think the margin separating these two is so close that the combine could flip them for me. But for now, I'm going with Mike Williams. 

Clemson listed him at 6-3, 225 and I think he's going to come close to that at the combine. And he might not have Corey Davis' speed or quick twitch, but he makes up for it. I really want to see how he performs at the combine; I expect it to confirm my belief that he's the top receiver in the draft. Davis will reportedly not run at the combine because of an ankle injury. 

It's possible a team like the Eagles could fall in love with Davis' deep threat ability. That's clearly what they value right now. But ultimately, I think Williams is the top guy. 

I don't think Ryan Mathews will be back next season. He's 29, coming off a serious neck injury and is way too expensive. The Eagles can save $4 million by cutting him. I expect that to happen and for the Eagles to try to find some younger, healthier talent. 

Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy! Let's get the band back together! 

I understand why the Maclin questions are rolling in. An ESPN column recently suggested that the Chiefs could cut the former Eagle. Maclin is familiar with the Eagles' offense and Doug Pederson, which means the move would make some sense. 

But from a football standpoint, Jackson would give the Eagles what they need more than Maclin. Over the last couple years, Maclin has really been utilized in the slot, which happens to be where the Eagles' only decent receiver plays. Sure, Pederson will move around his receivers, but there are probably better fits out there for the Eagles than Maclin. If he does become a free agent, though, it's at least worth inquiring. 

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

About a year ago, while in Indianapolis for the combine, the Eagles cut veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans. 

Ryans has finally found his next job ... as a coach. 

The 32-year-old former linebacker has been named a defensive quality control coach on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco. Shanahan was on the Texans' staff for the first four years of Ryans' pro career. Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was also on that Houston staff. 

After the Eagles cut him last Feb. 24, Ryans was out of the league in 2016 after 10 NFL seasons. He played the first six years of his career in Houston, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler, before joining the Eagles through a trade in 2012. 

While the Eagles cut Ryans after the 2015 season to save $3.5 million in cap space, they made a point to go out of their way to praise him on his way out. He was very well-thought of in the locker room and throughout the building. 

While Ryans played one season under Andy Reid, he quickly became a favorite of Chip Kelly, who frequently called Ryans the "Mufasa" of the Eagles' defense. 

Kelly didn't forget about Ryans when he went to San Francisco to coach the 49ers for the 2016 season. In fact, in Kelly's questionnaire in the NFL's 2016 information guide, Kelly listed Ryans as a player who'd make a great head coach.