As spoken by current coach Peter Laviolette, what are the current problems the Philadelphia Flyers face for the 2013-2014 season?
Does the current roster with newly acquired Vincent Lecavalier provide the team with the consistent scoring it lacked last season?
Will the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain provide much needed leadership both in the locker room and out on the ice?
Will the signing of veteran and former Island captain Mark Streit bolster our blue line; adding some offensive game to the physical and stay at home approach by our defensive pairings.
Who will partner up with Steve Mason to keep the puck from lighting the lamp with Bryzgalov no longer in town sharing his inner-most thoughts about life, bears and outer space? With a full 82 game season for a team that barely crossed over the .500 mark last year, the current state of your Philadelphia Flyers is loaded with questions.
The current roster is far from complete. The Flyers are over the salary cap and have an abundance of centers with only four lines to disperse them to. (Once the Flyers put Chris Pronger on the long term injury list; they will be out of the red with their cap number.) The defensemen on the Flyers roster not the highest paid group in the NHL, but they also collect bigger paychecks than the forwards. I don’t see this statistic lasting very long. As soon as the Flyers feel like they receive a respectable offer for Braydon Coburn, his tenure in Philadelphia is over. Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros are both overpaid for their services; luckily they are on the last year of their contracts. Looking forward, Grossman, Streit, Luke Schenn could all be paired with new line-mates some the 2014-2015 season. It makes perfect sense the Flyers selected four defenseman in last Sunday’s draft.
When the Flyers brought Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and R.J. Umberger out of the Phantoms organization, we saw instant production. The current young nucleus of Couturier, Schenn and Read has all shown promise at times, but their potential has been erratic to say the least. Read has been the best of the three, but he is a restricted free agent at the end of this upcoming season and could command a salary out of the price range for the Flyers if he tallies 25-30 goals. That leaves Schenn and Couturier who really need to step up their game this season. I expect Schenn to produce at no less than 50 points for next season. There should be no reason he does not register 20 goals and 30 assists while providing a second line presence for our power play. I understand that Couturier was asked to be a defensive presence last year, playing mostly on the checking line. Shutting down Malkin in the playoffs the other year should not be the direction Laviolette takes with developing Couturier. He should be at the very least a third line center with Schenn being moved to winger with a healthy Talbot retuning this season.
There is a lot of pride with the Philadelphia Flyers and a fan base that is extremely dedicated to the orange and black. There is certainly a pool of talent with both the youth and veterans on this roster. I don’t think the defense is as bad as it appeared last year, although injuries plagued us throughout the strike shortened season. The defense will play differently for Mason, as his puck handling skills are an improvement for the panic stricken feel Bryzgalov provided when attempting to clear the puck or make an outlet pass.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flyers made a significant trade to add additional scoring. I could see Bobby Ryan finally traded to the Flyers, although I wouldn’t overpay for his services as he will be a free agent in two years and will end up coming home and playing for the Flyers at some point. I also see the Flyers acquiring a young defender who relies on speed and not blocking shots or finishing a check.
There haven’t been many seasons in recent Flyers history where the playoffs were not part of the equation. Last season left an awful taste for Flyers fans. Even with the buyouts and acquisitions; think it’s going to take a lot of lucky bounces for this team to wash down that bitter taste with the sweet nectar of Lord Stanley’s Cup.