The Philadelphia Flyers made, arguably, the biggest noise of any team in the NHL this summer.
They first made the biggest splash prior to free agency opening, acquiring the rights to Phoenix Coyotes goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov. That trade dictated the moves the Flyers would make for the remainder of the summer.
In order to afford a new deal for Bryzgalov, plenty of salary shedding was necessary, even with a rising cap. But perhaps no one expected it to the degree that Paul Holmgren and the Flyers did it.
Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Kris Versteeg all found new homes this offseason. Richards ended up in Los Angeles, while the other two found homes with considerably lower expectations for the season, with Carter heading to Columbus and Versteeg being shipped to the Florida Panthers.
Of course, the trade of Richards was likely the most surprising, as Carter had been rumored to be on the block for some time, and Versteeg had failed to produce in his short time in the City of Brotherly Love.
Not only did the trade of Richards leave them without one of their best players statistically, it also left a vacancy as far as a captain is concerned. Despite the rumors of issues off the ice and in the locker room, Richards still wore the ‘C’ for Philadelphia until he was dealt to LA.
Now the focus shifts to who will take his place as the captain of the Flyers. In what could be the easiest decision ever for the Flyers’ staff, it certainly looks like Chris Pronger has the edge to wear the ‘C’, even if he’s not going to be completely healthy in time for the season to begin.
For all intents and purposes, Pronger is the face of the Flyers franchise. Guys like Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk are well on their way to being phenomenal players, but there is no voice in that locker room that resonates like Pronger’s.
He’s been around the block, and then some. The Flyers are his fifth team in his career, though most of his time in the NHL, outside of Philly, was spent with St. Louis and Anaheim. Pronger spent time wearing the ‘C’ for both clubs.
The only other candidates that could likely come close to touching Pronger as far as the letter is concerned are Daniel Briere and Kimmo Timmonen. Briere briefly wore a ‘C’ for Buffalo, while Timmonen did the same for a season when he was with the Nashville Predators.
As long as Pronger is ready to start the season, as it sounds like he could be after back surgery and wrist issues this summer, it’s hard to envision him not captaining the Flyers this season. He’s one of a few true veterans on the squad, along with Briere and Timmonen, both of which could be wearing an ‘A’ right behind him for the Flyers.
Then the question becomes whether or not Bryzgalov can live up to the pressure of a big market.