Bill Guerin Flirts with the Philadelphia Flyers: A Good Fit for Broad Street?

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Bill Guerin Flirts with the Philadelphia Flyers: A Good Fit for Broad Street?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Free-agent forward Bill Guerin skated at the Philadelphia Flyers' practice facility on Wednesday, an appearance that set off a firestorm of rumors and speculation.

The Flyers have long had interest in acquiring Guerin. In addition, Guerin has expressed a desire to play only for a contender. The reigning Eastern Conference Champions would seem to fit his criterion.

Guerin later claimed that he was simply visiting family in the area, and the team was just allowing the unrestricted free agent to use its facilities for skating practice.

Still, the Flyers do appear to have some interest in acquiring the 40-year-old winger. Numerous rumors have stated that the Flyers have been in contact with Guerin's agent, Bob Murray, but an agreement has not been reached.

Guerin wants a contract, while the Flyers appear to be more interested in giving him a tryout, just as they did for Blair Betts last season.

Bill Guerin could end up in a Flyers' uniform by the end of the month. But is the former All-Star winger a good fit for the roster? 

 

Something Left in the Tank

At 40 years of age, Guerin is a bit long in the tooth. He has also intimated that he expects this season to be his final season as an NHL player.

But Guerin still is a solid producer.

He has scored at least 20 goals in his last four seasons, and essentially is a lock for 40 points. The last time he scored less than 40 points in a season was in 1997.

Guerin's statistics in 2009-10 were likely a bit inflated due to his linemate, Sidney Crosby. According to Dobberhockey.com, Guerin spent 63 percent of his even-strength ice time with Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

Still, even if Guerin proves incapable of hitting the 45-point plateau with lesser linemates, it would be reasonable to expect 35 to 40 points from the winger.

In addition, Guerin provides value on the power play. His 11 power-play goals were good for third-best on the Penguins, behind only Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. 

 

Value for the Flyers

Guerin would bring a desirable combination of a veteran presence and legitimate top nine forward talent.

Long known as a high-character player, Guerin would be a strong addition to the Flyers' locker room. His presence was often cited as a contributing factor to the Penguins' Stanley Cup run in 2009.

In addition, Guerin could fill the void left by Mike Knuble, taking on the role as big body in front of the net. Knuble's garbage goals were a key element of the Flyers' goal-scoring success in past seasons. At 6'2'' and 220 pounds, Guerin would bring that combination of size and scoring back to the forwards.

Guerin would likely replace Daniel Carcillo as a top nine forward on the Flyers' roster. It would be a legitimate upgrade, as Guerin brings more scoring ability and a more disciplined style of play. He does draw fewer penalties, but overall, Guerin would be a superior option. 

 

Problems with a Guerin Signing

The signing of Bill Guerin would provide an upgrade, but it also would create some issues with the overall roster.

Guerin would replace Carcillo as the ninth forward on the roster. Carcillo would drop onto the fourth line, with Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts.

However, that leaves the both recently signed Jody Shelley and Darroll Powe without a spot in the lineup.

Currently, the fourth line likely consists of Betts, Laperriere, and a combination of Powe and Shelley, depending on the matchup. With Betts expected to miss the beginning of the season, Powe would take over as the center, with Shelley slotting in at wing.

Usually, teams scratch one forward. Without Guerin, a fully-healthy Flyers' lineup would see either Powe or Shelley scratched.

But with Guerin, one of Shelley, Powe, or Carcillo would likely need to leave the roster completely once Betts returns.

While Shelley would be the choice of many Flyer fans, his newly signed three-year, $1.1 million contract makes it very unlikely that the Flyers would consider jettisoning the enforcer.

Powe would be an option, but he is valuable on the penalty kill. With the loss of Simon Gagne, the Flyers likely cannot afford to lose his minutes.

That leaves Daniel Carcillo. The 25-year-old forward is fantastic at drawing penalties, and still has offensive upside. But he could be the cost if the Flyers decide to find a spot on the roster for Bill Guerin.

Had the Flyers not signed Shelley, Guerin would have fit perfectly in the lineup. But as a result of the addition of the enforcer, someone would need to leave to accommodate Guerin. 

 

Conclusion

Competition is not a bad thing. If Guerin ends up at Flyers camp on a tryout basis, he will likely be battling with Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe for the final two forward spots.

If he is able to earn the job, it would be difficult to argue that the Flyers would not be a better team.

But losing a player like Carcillo or Powe would hurt. If Guerin ends up on the Flyers roster, the positives would come at a cost.

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