Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Arnott argument

So far, it's been a pretty lackluster off season for Philadelphia hockey. Despite a few gigantic contracts being offered, the two biggest names on the free agent market (Zach Parise and Ryan Suter) joined the Minnesota Wild. An attempt was also made for Nashville's Shea Weber in the form of an offer sheet, but that pipe dream was extinguished after the Predators matched the Flyers deal. Rumors of trades including Rick Nash (who is now a Ranger), Bobby Ryan and Keith Yandle have also surfaced, but as expected they were nothing but. So what do they do? With no chance of upgrading the team exponentially without losing key pieces, how about veteran depth to help guide the droves of young talent? Not Shane Doan (who's four-year, $30 million dollar contract musings are tailor-made for a team looking to reach the cap floor), but what about Jason Arnott? The deal wouldn't be for more than a year, but his impact could be long lasting.

For a skater of his age (he'll turn 38 October 11th), Arnott has still shown considerable upside over the last three years. Since the 2009-'10 season, he's played in 81% of his games and has accumulated 111 points (53 goals, 58 assists) with the Predators, Devils, Capitals and Blues respectively. But at the end of the day, point production isn't what you'd be asking from a player like Arnott. For years to come, names like Giroux, Couturier, Schenn, Read, Voracek and Wellwood will be expected to lead this team, and with Jaromir Jagr moving south, an 18-year vet who has been a captain - and an assistant captain on a Stanley Cup winning team - can teach the kids a ton about the workings of the sport.

While he's got the experience of Jagr, he doesn't have the ability of Jagr. Arnott wouldn't be his replacement on the top line. And one has to wonder how much he has left in the tank thanks to his age. The team would have to pander to the aging star as well. Only ever playing at center - and the Flyers having four solid centers already - someone would have to move to wing. As it stands, the leading candidates to do so would be either Danny Briere or Max Talbot. If it were Max, then Arnott would be on the fourth line, getting minimal ice time and if it were Danny, it would most likely mean moving Couturier up to 2nd line center (which he is destined to get eventually, but pushing him into the role would be risky) and giving 3rd line center to Arnott.

He wouldn't be a big commitment, and he'd most likely come cheap. The biggest problem for either side is interest. Does Jason Arnott want to play hockey next year, let alone in Philadelphia? And does Paul Holmgren even want him? To be quite honest the answer for either side is, "probably not". But if they're looking for a little more leadership on the cheap, Homer should definitely consider it.

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