31 July 2011
This is how it started:
"With the 7th pick overall in the 2000 Minnesota Wild/Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Expansion Draft the Wild are happy to select, from the Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Sean O'Donnell."
"With the 54th pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings are happy to select 25 year old Swedish defenseman Andreas Lilja from Malmo IF of the Swedish Elite League."
And this is how it will most likely end:
The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have signed 6-3, 220-lb free agent defenseman Andreas Lilja to a two year contract worth $1.475M.
**You can't hear it right now but Elton John is singing the Circle of Life somewhere right now (probably a gay cruise ship).**
Lost is the all the hubbub of team dismantling trades, strange free agent acquisitions, and gossip that no one gives half a shit about, was the signing of what might prove to be the Flyers 6th defenseman for the next two years. And this is important because many people like to use quotes they read of off calendars as maps that explain how to navigate their lives, so surely "you're only as strong as your weakest link." And we have a lot of guys competing to be that weakest link, with Lilja leading by a nose attached to a concussed head.
It's therefore important you get to know a little bit about the guy who was brought into replace Sean O'Donnell after already failing to do so over a decade ago, so here it is: Lilja was drafted as an over-ager back when you had to do stuff like that, never fit into the LA System, traded to Florida where he had two decent seasons, played in Europe during the lock out where he and a couple other Swedes got involved in some stuff that only Crossing Broad or TMZ would care about, came back to North America to be a steady defensive defenseman for a number of years with Detroit until this happened:
He then missed 366 days with concussion problems, held out for a better offer when free agency hit even though the Wings apparently offered him a year at $1M, got invited on a PTO to the Sharks camp where he was ultimately released and then signed on with the Ducks where he had an ok season in 2010-11.
And now he wears number 6 for the Flyers in honor of Chris Therien. And I'm willing to bet you anything that he puts up Therien like numbers over what will surely be the last two seasons of his career ( 10 pts in 56 games and 4 pts in 47 games).
He's got some serious competition for that last defensive slot in Erik "John" Gustafsson and possibly Oskars if he has recovered from Scottie Upshall's murder plot, but I think we'll see a decent amount of Lilja this season. Apparently he's a great shot blocker and responsible defensively, which seemed to offer a nice cushion for Andrej Meszaros to re-explore the offensive side of his game last season while maintaining very nice defensive numbers.
Philadelphia, please meet former Stanley Cup winner (which means 'he knows what it takes' and all that other bullshit), Andreas Lilja.