Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Flyers Preview: Keith Jones Autographed Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: Unlike in the distant past where I would post different texts on this collectibles blog and my personal one, I've been using a new format for the past couple of years, where I'll copy the same text on each one. As a father of two young kids, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. This year again, the entire scope of the analysis will take place first and the featured player will have a direct or perhaps indirect connection to what's written, below.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camps being set to start in a couple of weeks, several players haven't found a team yet and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Kevin Hayes (C), Ivan Provorov (D), Kevin Connaughton (D), James Van Riemsdyk (LW), Kiefer Bellows (LW), Tony DeAngelo (D), Brendan Lemieux (LW), and Justin Braun (D).

Key Arrivals: Marc Staal (D), Sean Walker (D), Garnet Hathaway (RW), Ryan Poehling (C), Cal Petersen (G), and Victor Mete (D).

Top prospects: Matvei Michkov (RW, 18 years old, in the KHL for at least three more years), Tyson Foerster (RW, 21 years old, had 48 points in 66 games in his AHL rookie season last year), Bobby Brink (RW, 22 years old, missed most of last season due to injury), Cutter Gauthier (C/LW, 19 years old, looked like a star in the NCAA as well as the World Juniors), Emil Andrae (D, 21 years old, impressed in the Swedish league and AHL last season), and Elliot Desnoyers (LW, 21 years old, 44 points in 65 AHL games last season).

What makes their odds look good:
There is a plan in place, and GM Daniel Brière will be stockpiling young players and draft capital for the next few seasons; head coach John Tortorella will instill good habits with the help of veterans he knows well, such as Staal. There might not be another generational talent to tank for in the next three or four drafts, but what matters is drafting talented players who work hard to have a competitive team when the time is right.

Question marks: Who will be kept as part of the core among young veterans like Travis Konecny, Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim?

This isn't an accidental bottoming out, this is a calculated move to turn over nearly the entire roster and hopefully contend when the current veteran cream of the Metropolitan Division - your Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, and Pittsburgh Penguins - start to drop in the standings in four or five seasons, with just the New Jersey Devils remaining as a power, and even then, possibly in decline.

Eighth in the Metropolitan Division, bottom-five in the NHL.

The day Brière was announced as the new team GM, Keith Jones got the nod as the Philadelphia Flyers' new team President of Hockey Operations, a job for which his co-analyst on TNT NHL broadcasts, Ed Olczyk, was also up for; ultimately, as is their modus operandi, the team went with their alumnus.

A solid middle-six player with some power forward skills, Jones skated part-time with the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros and John LeClair in his day, and was a respected member of the dressing room. So much so that his good relations with just about everyone around the league will surely help the Flyers and Brière in their relationships with other teams.

I mostly remember Jones on the Colorado Avalanche; he was like a "clean" version of Tom Wilson, both having in common that they look like they should consistently score 30-40 goals, with neither having topped the 25-goal mark as of 2023.

Having watched Jones analyze the game and crack jokes for the past 10-15 years on TV (all within acceptable social standards), however, I am relatively confident that he can handle a front office job on one of the premiere rich organizations in the sport. I certainly wish him well.

Here he is sporting the Flyers' black (third / home) uniform on card #304 from Pacific's flagship 1999-2000 Pacific set, crashing into the New York Rangers' Mike Richter:
He signed it in blue sharpie as a guest at a card convention, back when one didn't have to pay extra on top of the entry ticket to get autographs at those events, circa 2005 or so.

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