Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flyers 2010 offseason primer

The Flyers season may have just ended but the next season is just around the corner and the team has some work to do if they want to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. While the Flyers have nearly every significant player under contract for next season, they still face a few important decisions this summer. Here's a quick look at who will be back, who might not be back and what needs the Flyers will have to address this summer.

Under contract for next season:
Forwards: Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, Ian Laperriere, Claude Giroux, Ville Leino, Riley Cote, Blair Betts, Andreas Nodl

Defensemen: Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Oskars Bartulis

Goalies: Brian Boucher, Johan Backlund

-The Flyers look pretty set at forward with 10 returning players and two depth wings in Cote and Nodl. Clearly, they have holes on defense and in net.

Restricted Free Agents:
Dan Carcillo, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Parent, Darroll Powe, Danny Syvret

-Of this group, Coburn is the top priority if the Flyers can afford him. I would also expect Carcillo and Powe to be brought back and Parent and Syvret could be traded or re-signed depending on what other options are out there.

Unrestricted Free Agents:
Arron Asham, Ray Emery, Lukas Krajicek, Michael Leighton, Mika Pyorala, Jared Ross

-No one is a must-sign in this group though I'm sure the Flyers will be in discussions with Leighton. Asham could also be brought back.

The Flyers three biggest offseason questions:

1. Who's the goalie?
With Brian Boucher under contract and Johan Backlund re-signed, the Flyers appear to have their backup goalie spot taken care of. Of course, there is still that little matter of finding a starting goaltender. Michael Leighton did a great job in the playoffs and you can bet there will be teams offering him some good money to be their starter; will the Flyers be one of them? There were rumors in the second half of the season about the Flyers wanting to pursue a young goaltender to backstop this team for the next handful of years and Leighton certainly doesn't fit the bill there. Of course, getting a good young goalie is going to take either significant money or a significant player off the roster.

2. Can they create cap space?
While it's great that the Flyers have all of their top players locked up with nice contracts, they have been struggling with the salary cap for the last few years. With the team needing to sign Braydon Coburn to a multi-million dollar deal as well as find money for Carcillo, Powe and a few more depth forwards, there won't be much money left over for an upgrade in net or to get better depth defensemen. Perhaps this is the summer the Flyers finally trade a Jeff Carter or a James van Riemsdyk for a big return to help clear up cap room? The NHL is also rumored to be upping the salary cap by a few million and the Flyers would really benefit from that move.

3. Who are the 5th and 6th defensemen?
In case you hadn't noticed in the playoffs, Lukas Krajicek, Oskars Bartulis and Ryan Parent weren't cutting it for the Flyers third defensive pairing. With Bartulis the only one of the three certain to be back next season, the Flyers will be in the market for a few d-men. If they had the cap space, the Flyers would try to get someone who could play significant minutes and give the Big Four a little more rest. The only way that happens is if they move some salary off the roster.

Keep coming back to ATPS for all the latest offseason Flyers news and rumors. As always, check out the How they were built: Flyers page for the latest salary and acquisition information about every Flyer.

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