As the Stanley Cup Finals are now underway I can’t help but think about what the Flyers have to do to get here in the near future. Although the Kings and the Rangers are good teams its hard for me to think of them as elite. The LA Kings maybe, but the NY Rangers are definitely not. So how did they get there; and what does Philly have to do to make that jump?
When you look at the current roster on paper they already have a fair amount of talent. They have a collection of some very good players, but you can’t just win on talent alone. Their line combinations don’t seem to fit. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, for example, make for a great first line combo but I am not too enamored with Scott Hartnell on the other wing. All HartnellDown joking aside; his skating ability is keeping this combo from truly reaching its potential. Hartnell in his own right is a good player and one of my favorites on the team but I just don’t see a fit for him anywhere in the lineup that helps the team as a whole. As ridiculous as this might seem; during the playoffs I was at the point that I would have rather seen the inexperienced Jason Akeson on that line to see if there was any chemistry.
Then I look at the Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier disaster. Both of these players are true centers and over the past year they both have spent time on the wing of various lines. Neither has the speed necessary to play the wing, and neither should be any lower than on a second scoring line because their defense is a bit suspect. So that leaves someone as the odd man out this offseason. My guess is that it is going to be Schenn mainly because of his restricted free agent status and there aren’t going to be many teams lining up to take on Lecavalier’s contract. I’m actually okay with that idea. Paring Vincent Lecavalier with Wayne Simmonds and with a free agent like Matt Moulson would look pretty darn good.
I don’t even know where to begin with the defense. Anyone that has spent even a little time watching the Flyers this year knows that the defense is the biggest need to fix on the team. Unless new General Manager, Ron Hextall, can do some miracle maneuvering in the offseason; the defense is going to be a work in progress that is going to take more than one season to fix if not longer. The one thing that I am fairly certain is as much as I have loved Kimmo Timonen over the years I feel it is time for him to call it a career. Unless the front office can move a few of the high priced d-men and he comes back at a seriously discount rate he is nothing more than a progress stopper for some of the younger, cheaper prospects in the system.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going to be a busy man this offseason as he looks to see what to make of his roster. Philadelphia is in a bit of a salary cap crunch as usual so his job of retooling this year may have his hands a little tied so those expecting a major influx of new blood are going to be mostly disappointed.
In an effort to try and figure out what the Flyers have to work with I have created a list of players that I feel that are keepers, movers, and potential call-ups.
KEEPERS: These are the players that are currently on the roster that I believe will be on the roster opening day.
- Claude Giroux
- Jakub Voracek
- Vincent Lecavalier/Brayden Schenn
- Sean Couturier
- Matt Read
- Wayne Simmonds
- Michael Raffl
- Jason Akeson (Free Agent but Flyers will re-sign)
- Mark Streit
- Andrew MacDonald
- Steve Mason
MOVERS: Players that could be potentially moved during the offseason.
- Vincent Lecavalier/Brayden Schenn (Someone has got to go)
- Scott Hartnell
- Braydon Coburn
- Luke Schenn
- Nicklas Grossmann
- Kimmo Timonen (Likely to retirement)
CALL-UPS: Players in the system that might make it on the roster at some point next year.
- Scott Laughton
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Robert Hagg
- Samuel Morin (A bit of a longshot. Better chance the following year, but who knows?)
- Oliver Lauridsen
- Mark Alt
- Kevin Goumas
- Nick Cousins
- Cal Heeter
As you can see this Flyers team as it is currently constructed needs some work, but I feel it is not all that far away from putting it together and contending. The biggest pieces for this team the front office needs to address is help on the wing, defensive restructuring, and overall team speed. Remind me again why I’m optimistic. Hey at least we are not looking for goaltending this offseason.