Philadelphia Flyers: Dan Carcillo's Break-Out Year?
I suppose I like Phoenix Coyotes right winger Scottie Upshall just fine.
It's his fans I can't stand.
From the moment Dan Carcillo became property of the Philadelphia Flyers, I have not been able to read an online mention about the player they call "Carbomb" without some Upshall fan counter-insurgency taking place in the comments section of the story.
As you've no doubt heard, Carcillo recently signed a one-year $1.075 million contract with the Flyers.
What this signing means for me personally is that I get to enjoy another season of Carcillo's antics in a Flyers sweater at the cost of suffering through another year of misty-eyed remembrances of Scottie Upshall - a former first round draft selection (no. 6 overall in 2002 by Nashville) the Flyers exiled to the desert of Arizona after failing to meet expectations in Philadelphia.
With additional ice time and power play duties in Arizona, Upshall was finally on course for a 20+ goal season in 2009-2010 before a torn ACL limited the guy who cried at the airport to just 18 goals and 14 assists in 49 games.
It's safe to assume that if Upshall had produced anything approaching that scoring pace as a member of the Flyers, we wouldn't be having this conversation today.
But he didn't.
And now he's a Coyote.
It's not unreasonable to wonder if Carcillo's game will have a similar transformation in 2010-2011 should he be fortunate enough to remain a permanent fixture on the right side of center Mike Richards next season, rather than a spare part buried on the fourth line, as he was in his first 26 games with John Stevens last season.
Anyone laughing at the thought of Carcillo as a 20-goal guy really should take a peek at what Steve Downie (a similar player to Carcillo) has done in Tampa since moving to Steven Stamkos' right side, escaping the John Stevens' dog house in Philadelphia.
By contrast, in his 50 games under Peter Laviolette last season, Carcillo produced 10 goals - impressive for a player who bounced between three different lines and dutifully played the role of the Flyers' chief instigator.
In an 82 game season, Carcillo might have been the beneficiary of a 17 goal campaign in 2009-2010 under Laviolette.
With a consistent line assignment next to Richards, coupled with a reduction in the shenanigans that made him the fourth most penalized player in the league, could this be the year where Carcillo breaks out with 20 goals?
Carcillo undeniably displayed his offensive abilities in flashes last season when consistently paired with finishers like Richards and Gagne.
As Carcillo signed the dotted line on his modest salary increase this week, were there undisclosed promises by the Flyers to find a more consistent role for a player that could have walked into arbitration and demanded salary comparable to players of similar ability (both in offense and mayhem) such as Matt Cooke ($2.1 million), Chris Neil ($2 million), or Jarkko Ruutu ($1.3 million) and walked away with a minimum of $1.5 million?
I'm sure the idea of "Carcillo: 20 Goal-Scoring Super Pest" will drive plenty of Flyers fans to delirious laughter.
But then again, they're probably the fans that hated the Upshall/Carcillo trade in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, this will be the year where Carcillo will feel the most pressure to produce offense.
Should he finally find a consistent role on a productive Flyers line, my projection for Carcillo in 2010-2011 is one that has more offense, less shenanigans, and a whole lot of muttering from the Upshall fans in Philadelphia.
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