September 12, 2013 by andymisek
With Ilya Bryzgalov never playing up to his massive long-term contract signed prior to the 2011-2012 season, the revolving door of goaltenders continues for the Flyers. Bryzgalov was bought out while Ray Emery and Steve Mason were brought in to fill the void. The Flyers are now trying to make up for not making the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, but we don’t feel they have the roster to make the jump back into the playoffs. Philadelphia finishes #19 in our NHL Season Countdown.
Paul Holmgren has been a busy general manager this off season. After trading for Steve Mason during the 2013 trade deadline, Holmgren felt it was the end of the Ilya Bryzgalov saga in Philadelphia and used one of the Flyer’s two compliance buy-outs to buy-out Bryzgalov. Holmgren used his other compliance buy-out on Danny Briere (signed with Montreal).
At the 2013 NHL Draft, the Flyers selected Samuel Morin with the 11th pick overall. Morin is a massive (6ft 6in and 203 pounds) and physical defenseman who will fit in with the culture in Philadelphia. Morin still has some developing before he is ready for the big leagues, but he could be an anchor for the Flyers in the future.
During free agency, the Flyers brought in Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit, and Ray Emery. Vincent Lecavalier will play behind Claude Giroux as Philidelphia’s second line center, Mark Streit will play in their top four defense and Ray Emery will battle Steve Mason for the starting goaltender job.
The offense of the Flyers is a threat from top to bottom. Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek make up the top line. Everyone knows what Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell are capable of, but Jakub Voracek is starting to make a name for himself.
Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Matt Read are another year older and have a great upside. Sean Couturier was considered a possible top 5 pick going into the 2011 entry draft and Brayden Schenn was a top 5 pick in the 2009 entry draft (5th overall by LA Kings). Expectations are high for these two young guys. Scott Laughton stuck around with the Flyers for 5 games after being drafted 20th overall in the 2012 entry draft. Expect to see him gain a more prominent role this season.
Even the Flyers’ fourth line could post a few goals while they play their punishing style. Maxime Talbot could play on some team’s third lines. Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo are both very physical and play old-school Flyers hockey.
This is where the Flyers start to get shaky. The Flyers’ defense has been a train wreck since Chris Pronger went down with a concussion. When Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn/Mark Streit are your top pairing defensemen, you have a serious issue. Kimmo Timonen and Mark Striet are both aging veterans, while Luke Schenn never lived up to his 5th overall selection in the 2008 draft. He has always been a 4th or 5th defenseman. He is, however, a very physical defenseman.
The Flyers have a plethora of below average defensemen in Andrej Meszaros, Nicklas Grossmann, Erik Gustafsson, and Braydon Coburn. It will be interesting to see if the Flyers will look to move a defensemen or two before the season starts because right now they are sitting with seven defensemen. They also have Marc-Andre Bourdon and Bruno Gervais who could play in the NHL.
One word can describe the Flyer’s goaltending situation over the last 20 years: ugly. It isn’t going to get any better this year for Flyers’ fans. Ray Emery and Steve Mason aren’t a goaltending duo that will set the world on fire. Neither were considered starting goalies last year and I find it difficult to believe either will play good enough to be considered a ‘starter’ this year.
Steve Mason hasn’t been the same since his dominant rookie season in 2008-2009 where he earned 10 shutouts and captured the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year. Also, while Ray Emery put up an impressive 17-1 record last year for the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks, the defense playing in front of him was much more reliable than the defense in Philadelphia. If you watch Ray Emery, his mobility isn’t the same as it was prior to his surgery during the 2008-2009 season. These two goalies will be peppered with shots and I’m not sure either are up to the task.
Overall Flyers are going to score tons of goals with their stacked offense, but will let up just as many with their porous defense and shaky goaltending. While they might be in the hunt for a playoff spot during the year, their issues on their back-end will ultimately cost them a berth in the playoffs. Philadelphia will need to find a goaltender who can anchor the Flyers for more than a couple years if they are planning on becoming a playoff regular again.