…It was bound to happen once Chris Pronger returned from the Injured Reserve. Walker played OK for the Flyers in his short four game stint, but there simply isn’t enough room on the blue line for him. With him clearing, he heads to the Adirondack Phantoms, which opens up almost $2 million in salary for the Flyers, something that will come in handy come trade deadline time.
Archive for Matt Walker
…Walker looked just as shocked as the rest of us in Flyerdom when he was inserted into the Flyers’ line-up last night against Boston. From all accounts of the game, Walker was, as expected, less than impressive. He likely won’t be in the line-up tonight against Atlanta, as Oskars Bartulis will re-assume his role as the Flyers’ 6th defenseman. Walker was a -1 with no shots on goal in the loss last night against Boston. He logged 13:29 of ice time, the least amount amongst Flyers blueliners.
Tim Panaccio tweeted about Matt Walker needing hip surgery minutes ago:
…Essentially, if Walker has surgery, with the amount of time he’d be out, the Flyers traded Simon Gagne for a fourth round draft pick. That’s brutal to fathom, let alone comprehend. Presumably, Walker will be put on the IR making his $1 million + salary come off the books for the time being. The depth the Flyers had defensively appears to have dwindled by one.
Jody Shelley and Matt Walker both fought Pierre-Luc Letorneau Leblond in the Flyers’ preseason opener last night. Here are the videos of those fights:
Walker vs. PLLL
Shelley vs. PLLL
When Matt Walker was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers this summer, he was one of the few people associated with the Philadelphia area excited about his arrival.
You see, Matt Walker was what the Flyers got in exchange when they traded Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They received a fourth round pick as well, but Walker is the only able body that can appear in a Flyers uniform at the moment.
Frank Seravalli, of the Daily News, has more on Walker’s beginnings as a Flyer today in both the print and online form of the paper. After reading Seravalli’s article, maybe there’s reason to give Walker a chance with the Flyers. First and foremost, Seravalli compares Walker to the “defensive version of Ian Laperriere”. Is he even allowed to do that? With the soft spot that all Flyers fans now have with Lappy, being compared to #14 means that Walker now has a lot to live up to.
Still, Seravalli points out that in coming to Philadelphia, Matt Walker feels like he is coming home. The 6’2” 230+ pound defenseman who makes a living blocking shots as opposed to taking them told the Flyers beat writer, “I’ve been watching them [the Flyers] ever since I was a kid. [Tough hockey] has always been their reputation, so I’ve always had a little bit of a soft spot for them.” Walker goes on to say that he was “pretty excited” when he found out he had been traded to the Flyers in the off-season.
While Walker is excited to be here, it’s hard for me to believe he’s going to be playing all that much once this season moves from the “Pre” variety. The Flyers have a solid set of six proven and skilled defensemen in Chris Pronger, Sean O’Donnell, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, and Andrej Meszaros. After that, Walker and Oskars Bartulis are left to compete for the 7th and 8th slots, which actually aren’t as much slots as they are seats in the press box. Still, Walker is a cap hit of over a million dollars this season, so it’s difficult to fathom that the Flyers would dump that salary to the Adirondacks and have him play for the Phantoms.
Depth, especially defensively, is always a good thing. But it’s hard for me to believe that Walker will be among the top six for the Flyers on the blue-line if the aforementioned six defensemen are all healthy. With that being said, if Chris Pronger’s knee doesn’t heal as well as he and the Flyers would have liked come time for the season opener, it’s a safe bet Walker will be his replacement in Pittsburgh on October 7th.
You can check out Seravalli’s entire piece here: WALKER FEELING RIGHT AT HOME WITH FLYERS’ DEFENSIVE CORPS
Chris Pronger is still a little ways away from officially returning to the Flyers full time after having arthroscopic knee surgery on July 27, but that doesn’t mean the future Hall of Famer isn’t doing everything he possibly can to make sure that he can be prepared to play at the highest level come opening night. The Daily News‘ Frank Seravalli has more on this in today’s edition.
Seravalli makes note that Pronger’s time on the ice over the past five days has been his first time skating since the Flyers lost in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final on June 9. The Flyers defenseman also caught a bit of flack from the general public for having the surgery done so late in the off-season, instead of just having it done after the Flyers season came to an end, but Pronger explains to Seravalli, he “wanted to see if it could heal itself. It didn’t get much better – or any better at all. Ultimately, we found some things in [an] MRI and I had surgery the next week. I don’t know if I could have sped up the process at all.”
Later in the article, Pronger also notes how pleased he is with General Manager Paul Holmgren’s re-tooling of the Flyers’ blueline in the off-season. A potent foursome of Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle are joined by the likes of Andrej Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell, and Matt Walker to make up what Pronger calls “one of the deepest units” he’s played with over his 16 year NHL career. It’s hard to argue with him – the top six for the Flyers are going to be a talented bunch, and although there are certainly some older legs back there, it’s hard to argue against his opinion of the blueline.
To check out of all of Frank Seravalli’s article, click here: PRONGER, HEALING AFTER SURGERY, TOUTS FLYERS DEFENSIVE DEPTH
I’m going to attempt to do something in this post that’s about as hard as I’ve ever done as a writer: say goodbye to one of my favorite Flyers in the history of the franchise.
Simon Gagne was more of a Flyer than any member of the current team, and only few in my lifetime represented the Flyers crest better than how Gagne did in his 10+ years in Philadelphia. And now, he is gone.
Never again will we hear Lou Nolan belt over the PA System at the Wachovia (Wells Fargo) Center, “Flyers goal scored by number twelve, SEEEEEEEMOAN GAAAHNNNNYAAAAYYYYY!!!” Never again will Gagne score for a case of TastyCakes. Never again will there be an assistant captain wearing the number 12 in Orange and Black (at least, there better not be).
But, perhaps most importantly, never again will Simon Gagne be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ on-ice product. And that, quite frankly, is heart breaking.
Instead, Gagne and his ten years of service to the Flyers are headed South – way South – to Tampa Bay and joining the Lightning. He’ll go from playing with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. The trade-off for Gagne isn’t all that bad.
The Flyers? Well, they just about took the equivalent of a Walk of Shame in this deal. They traded away Gagne, who’s been a face of this franchise for the past decade, has worn an “A” on his sweater, and has always competed despite being slowed by injuries at times in recent years. They traded Gagne and got nothing.
Matt Walker, a defenseman who has done little to nothing in his five-plus years of service in the National Hockey League is what comes back to the Orange and Black. A defenseman. On a team that already had 7 under contract that were more than capable of handling the NHL play. And now there are 8 of them. For six spots.
Did I mention they also received a 4th round pick in the deal?
It’s not a good situation, Flyers fans. Not at all. Paul Holmgren was treading water in the deep end for a while, but its safe to say at this point that the consensus in Flyerdom is that he is officially drowning. Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that he is the only person capable of performing the rescue.
In the end, they’ll call Simon Gagne being dealt to Tampa Bay a cap-clearing deal. The sad part is that is exactly what it was. The even more pathetic part is that the deal was a direct result of the Flyers’ own doing. Sure, we all know they were close to the cap – it seems to be a yearly occurence. Still, this situation could have been avoided. Why sign Jody Shelley, why re-sign Dan Carcillo? What do those two men bring to the table that is so important it ended up ultimately being a deciding factor in the cap that sent Gagne packing? Is Nik Zherdev the answer on a one-year contract – precisely the amount of time Gagne had left in his deal?
There are plenty of questions, and very few answers. What we know right now is this: the Flyers still have a solid nucleus of fowards, but are missing perhaps their most important one. Their defense is as good as ever, but perhaps too deep, if that’s even possible. Their goaltending? Well, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher or Johan Backlund isn’t exactly a combination that will make fans exhale. The team will be good, but it’s hard to say if they’ll be better.
Fans in Philadelphia were just starting to put their hearts back into place after having them ripped out by Patrick Kane in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now, just as everything was seemingly returned to normal, one of our own, Paul Holmgren, has taken our hearts from us again in the form of dealing Simon Gagne.
It wasn’t Homer’s fault, but it was his doing. Simon Gagne was meant to be a Flyer for life, and every day he is in a different uniform will be a difficult one for many in South Philadelphia. He’ll have a great year in Tampa Bay, too, playing alongside names like Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis.
Deep down, I’ll be happy for him. It just hurts to see him gone.
Au Revoir, Simon. Bon Chance.