This off-season we’ve seen the Flyers essentially turn their team over (at least offensively) to the kids as they jettisoned their captain, Mike Richards and goal scorer Jeff Carter out West. Young forwards James Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux are now in possession of the keys to the Flyers future. The Flyers will be hoping that sooner, rather than later, Brayden Schenn will be joining them to form an imposing young trio of skilled leaders.
I can’t help wondering if the Flyers management saw how the Rangers were developing in the right direction as the Rangers were being lead from the front by home grown kids in Dubinsky, Callahan and on the back end Marc Staal. Both clubs have often sought expensive big name forwards, and to their credit, the Flyers have had more success down that path than the Rangers. However, the Rangers have recently had more joy with a better blend of home grown prospects and external recruits which have resulted in a promising future, underpinned by excellent team chemistry.
The Flyers were in a sticky position in that their dressing room was a mess and they needed to make a conscious decision who to entrust their future with. They went with their kids. Other clubs are doing the same as well. As the Canadiens try to re-build on the fly, central to their hopes will be their own drafted center Tomas Plekanec as well as young studs PK Subban and Max Pacioretty.
The Habs had a choice to make this off-season. Try and re-sign James Wisniewski or stick with Subban and oft-injured but uber talented Markov. They went home-grown. More and more clubs are placing greater emphasis on a home grown core because of it helps build chemistry and an identity. They also retained Josh Gorges, known as a good character player.
That focussing on a home grown core doesn’t always work you just need to look at the St Louis Blues who seem to be stuck in neutral despite having quite a few promising young forwards in TJ Oshie, David Perron, David Backes and Patrick Berglund. St Louis’ scenario shows that you need to get the balance right and make the right personnel choices. Clearly the team lacked leadership last year hence they recruited aging veteran leaders, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott.
The Rangers are lucky. The players they have placed their hopes in provide them with skill, character and leadership. Callahan, Dubinsky, Marc Staal and kids such as Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan show that you can find both skill and leadership in youth. The Flyers will be hoping for the same kind of balance in their new leaders.