Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flyers offseason update: Are they a better team?

This Flyers offseason will be remembered for one big move, the acquisition of Chris Pronger, but the Flyers have made several smaller moves that will have big impacts on the club next season. With the offseason winding down and the Flyers unlikely to do anything else since they have zero cap space, let's take a look at what the team has done and determine whether they have made themselves a better club.

Here are the key gains and losses by the Flyers this offseason:

In: Chris Pronger, Ian Laperriere, Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, Mika Pyorala

Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, Martin Biron, Antero Niittymaki, Andrew Alberts

The Flyers completely overhauled their goaltending situation, swapping Biron and Niittymaki for Emery and Boucher. It's difficult to say that the Flyers got better in net, but they certainly didn't get much worse. Emery, if his head is on straight, is capable of playing at an equal level with Biron, and Boucher will be fine in small spurts. Of course, goalies can look better if the defense in front of them is solid, and the addition of Pronger should help to make Emery look good.

The offense appears to have taken a step back this offseason. Losing Knuble and Lupul, two 20+ goal scorers, and not replacing them with anyone capable of putting the puck in the net will hinder the offense. On the positive side, Giroux figures to get more ice time on the top lines and Laperriere and Pyorala are both solid two-way players. Still, not having Knuble in front of the net on the power play is going to hurt.

Overall, I think the Flyers have made an effort to be a better defensive hockey club this offseason. While they are rolling the dice with Emery in net, the defense should be more sound. Let's hope they can still muster similar offensive numbers with fewer horses upfront.

Here is a stab at how the Flyers lines might look next season:

Gagne - Carter - Giroux
Hartnell - Richards - Briere
Asham - Laperriere - Carcillo
Cote - Pyorala - Nodl

Possible 13th forward:
Darroll Powe, Jared Ross, James van Riemsdyk, Jonathon Kalinski

Coburn - Pronger
Timonen - Parent
Jones - Carle

Possible 7th defenseman: Danny Syvret

Goalies: Ray Emery, Brian Boucher

Don't forget to look at How the Flyers were Built!


Anonymous said...

The Flyers have parted with Knuble and Lupul, but will be getting full seasons out of Briere and Giroux, which they didn't have last year. Knuble was a horse and i'm sad to see him go, but i can live with out Lupul who was inconsistent and about to have a horrible cap number.

Emery will be equal to Biron at worst, but potentially better.

It's clear this team lacked some fire, vet leadership and a presence in front of the net.. so Homer went out and got it and this team should be better off in the long run.

As for your stab at the lines.. eh.. this might be a better guess:

Gagne - Richards - Briere
Hartnell - Carter - Giroux
Powe - Laperriere - Asham
Cote - Pyorala - Carcillo

Cote AND Carcillo really isn't necessary, and look out (fingers crossed) for JVR mid season.


allthingsphilly said...

Lupul's cap number did make him a terrible value, so I agree he had to go. Full seasons from Giroux and Briere are great, but neither can muck it up in front of the net like Knuble.

I like those lines you have, we agree on the top 6, the will be in some combination. Cote's gotta go in my opinion, I was hoping they would trade him.

JJPK said...

It's a hard thing to assess, whether the team is better or worse. We'll need 30 games, minimum, to make that call.

That said, the Flyers look like they'll score less in 09-10 but get scored upon less, as well, given the addition of Pronger and the anticipated maturation of the young D-men.

The key will be be to secure a top 3 seed in the playoffs, avoiding that early matchup with the Pens that sunk them this year.