If the NHL season had gotten underway normally, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren would’ve spent Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Instead, he found himself watching the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, NY taking on the Washington Capitals’ minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
After seeing the Phantoms take out the Bears 3-1, I caught up with Holmgren to discuss what he thinks of his well-experienced AHLers and he likes what he’s got and feels the Flyers will be ready to go whenever the lockout ends.
“This is a good league right here,” Holmgren says of the AHL. “Every team has players that played in the NHL last year and the level of play is just ratcheted up. I think every game I’ve seen have been really good games. Very competitive, a lot of skating, fast games. I think the players that are playing, not only in the American league but all over, they get a leg up on the guys that aren’t when the league does come back.”
In the Flyers’ case, that’s a lot of guys with NHL experience.
Not only do you have future stars like Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, but also guys who saw time in Philly like Harry Zolnierczyk, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, Eric Wellwood, Ben Holmstrom, and Zac Rinaldo.
With the Flyers blue line having questions, Holmgren likes what’s working in the minors with guys like Bourdon and Gustafsson.
“They’re good young players and they’re good pros. This is Marc-Andre’s fourth year now so he should know his way around and it’s Erik’s third year in the league. They’re good pros. They work hard and they look after themselves and they’re very competitive players.”
It sounds as if he likes what they’ve got. Now about ending that lockout…