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Carchidi: On the Flyers’ ‘Mad Russian,’ the Draft, and ‘Bob’

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Matvei Michkov, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers need to start surrounding right winger Matvei Michkov with a better supporting cast. Michkov is a 19-year-old mega-prospect.

Along the Flyers beat, there are always questions, questions and more questions.

Who should the Flyers draft at No. 12 overall on Friday night?

From here, a center, the position that is a weak link on the big club; the Flyers don’t have many answers in the farm system, either.

The Flyers have been making a push to move up in the draft, but if they are unsuccessful and stay at No. 12, remember these names:  Michael Hage, Konsta Helenius and Berkly Catton. All are centers with loads of potential, and at least two of them are expected to be available at No. 12.

Hage had 33 goals in 54 USHL games last season, while and Catton had  54 goals  in 68 WHL games. Helenius, who just turned 18, put up strong numbers (36 points in 51 games) while paying against men in Finland’s top pro league.

The best centers in the draft are Macklin Celebrini (who will go No. 1 overall), Cayden Lindstrom, and Tij Iginla, but they are expected to be gone by the time the Flyers pick — unless they are able to trade up.

Is there a center in the trade market that the Flyers could land this weekend?

Anaheim’s creative Trevor Zegras and Carolina’s steady Martin Necas are rumored to be on the Philadelphia Flyers’ wish list.  Necas, 25, who has a combined 52 goals over the last two seasons, has played right wing for the Hurricanes but was drafted as a center.

GM Danny Briere is working the phones, but the Flyers’ precarious cap situation isn’t helping things.

What can we expect from Matvei Michkov in his first season in Philadelphia?

Michkov, a right winger who turns 20 on Dec. 9, won’t be like Alex Ovechkin in his incredible rookie year, when he had 52 goals and 106 points as a 20-year-old with Washington. Expect more modest numbers like Bobby Clarke had as a 20-year-old rookie (15 goals, 46 points).

Called ‘the Mad Russian” by Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella, Michkov just doesn’t have the supporting cast around him.

Yet.

Now that Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is a Stanley Cup champion, who should shoulder the blame for one of the most disastrous trades in the Flyers’ history?

It’s been popular to point a finger at then-chairman Ed Snider for the deal that sent Bobrovsky to Columbus in the summer of 2012  for a second-round pick and two fourth-rounders.

But Snider only should get part of the blame.

Coach Peter Laviolette and goalie coach Jeff Reese obviously didn’t know what they had or they would have protested loudly before the deal was made. Ditto Paul Holmgren, the general manager.

In May of 2011, Snider said he would never go through the goalie carousel again, like the one that occurred in that year’s playoffs. The Flyers made seven in-game goalie switches in their first 10 playoff games that season, equaling the most in NHL playoff history.

Bobrovsky had been very good in the regular season, compiling a 2.59 GAA and a .915 save percentage as a rookie. Bernie Parent said he was amazed by the young goalie’s lateral quickness and that the Flyers had found their goalie.

But after the Flyers were eliminated from the 2011 playoffs, Snider was upset with the goalie situation. It should also be noted that, at the time, he also told me Bobrovsky was viewed as the franchise’s “goalie of the future.”

So he played both sides of the coin. About a month later, the Flyers signed Ila Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million- contract.

It led to trading Bobrovsky, unhappy with his new role as a backup, one season later.

Before acquiring and then signing Bryzgalov, the Flyers’ experts — Holmgren, Laviolette and Reese — should have informed Snider that “Bob” had all the tools to be a star someday.

Now Bobrovsky has two Vezina Trophies, a Stanley Cup, and a probable future spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Barring an injury, he will finish in the top five in all-time NHL wins down the road.

You can’t see it, but I’m shaking my head.

Like you.

Sam Carchidi writes a weekly column for Philly Hockey Now. He and Jeff Hare are working on a TV series on the Flyers’ glory days, tentatively called “Bullies.” Carchidi can be reached at samcarchidi55@gmail.com.

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