With a three-game road trip next on the slate for the Philadelphia Flyers, Olle Lycksell…
Yesterday, CapFriendly had revealed that Emil Andrae was being sent to the minors. There was nothing beyond that, so it was hard to say if this was a paper transaction for undefined reasons.
This morning, reports surfaced to confirm the move, and Tortorella later held a press conference to further cement that it’s happening. Emil Andrae will be sent to the AHL and play with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It is—for the moment—the best thing for him. And that’s something I was wrong about.
In the NHL preseason and training camp, I genuinely believed that Emil Andrae would have no issues adjusting to the pace of NHL play. It wasn’t that I thought the paces were the same. I knew they weren’t.
But I thought that there was room for him to speed up his game to match the pace of the NHL, and I was wrong.
It actually isn’t about his play with the puck, for me. His play with the puck is good. Will he make the occasional mistake? Sure. But so will everyone.
His decision-making begins to falter when he doesn’t have the puck. He’s slow to see opportunities to pressure players defensively. He’s late to spot opportunities to retrieve a puck.
Once he has the puck, he’s the Andrae I expected to see. But he just spends so little time with the puck right now that you don’t often see that guy.
I’m not sure the AHL game will actually help overly much with this. The systems are so much less refined. Opposing offenses are so much less advanced.
But I do think that recognizing the issue will help, regardless of the league that he plays in.
And while I think his off-puck instincts will always lag behind someone like Cam York, who has shown a level of instincts that makes me mostly comfortable with him against top competition despite his size, I think Andrae will improve here well enough to display just how dynamic he can be when he has the puck.
His preseason showed that much. He’s the most instinctually offensive player that Philly has on the blueline. An aggressive puck mover who will make plays even when under siege. And there’s absolutely a place for that guy to be playing 20 minutes a night, when he can hold his own enough on the other end to touch the puck on a regular basis.
He looked lost at times. That won’t be the case forever. If Philly wants a blueliner to solve forecheck pressure and trigger rushes even when they’re under the gun, then they’ll get it with Emil.
Just not right now.
Victor Mete and Louis Belpedio have been the two players called up. There’s merit to the criticisms of that move. They’re hardly “the kids” that were promised, and that they may be the players playing the best right now is rather besides the point for a team that’s professing to rebuild.
Sending Emil Andrae down to get top minutes with the AHL is a move that makes sense as part of a rebuild.
Replacing him with guys who simply don’t figure in as part of the future because they’re the guys most likely to win on Thursday doesn’t really make sense as part of a rebuilding philosophy.
To defend the decision, Tortorella had this to say. The underlying message here is: “They didn’t earn it.”
Which I’m comfortable with and makes some sense. I would like to know how either of them have failed to earn it. Simply trusting the word of Lappy isn’t my favorite activity. And if we’re actually being honest, that’s what we’d do.
This is more bullshit wearing a plain speaker’s clothes, if you ask me. To support that, here’s the baseline stats of the defensemen in Leigh High so far.
Belpedio and Mete have combined for 2 points in 10 games. Attard and Ginning have combined for 6 points in 10 games.
Now, points are far from the primary measure of a defenseman’s quality. But Mete boasts a -3 rating, while Attard and Ginning are a -2 and -1, respectively.
Attard, the one who got singled out as “needing to take this as a wake-up call,” is the -1 here.
So, what has he done that’s so uniquely bad that is making his bottom line statistics as misleading?
Is he an open door on the rush? Is he coughing the puck up routinely on retrievals? Is he failing to play his zone in defensive zone coverages? Is it some combination of the 3?
This is the problem, as articulated by Charlie O’Connor (though with different implications.)
Nobody can actually make a judgment as to who’s playing best down there, which is the basis of this decision. This means that nobody can adequately support or critique this decision. It perpetuates a system where the front office and coaching staff have 0 accountability.
When those same people preach about accountability for everyone else, it’s a tad absurd that they—themselves—get to bypass any measure of accountability.
Now, when Mete and Belpedio do play, I have no idea what allegedly got them to the dance. So I can’t say if they were wrong to see these things.
I began this piece by saying I was wrong about Emil Andrae at this point in his development. There will be no such accountability for anyone who actually has the authority to make decisions, which makes it difficult to have any faith in them for the duration of this rebuild.
Everyone would like if everything went well. But hoping for the best is different than expecting it. While you can always do the former, there is increasingly little reason to do the latter.
And that’s the issue.