A collection of your opinions

In recent days, I have had some very insightful hockey conversations with people and have read many others online as well. I would like to share some of those thoughts and include a few of my own here.

  • Paul Holmgren has been a successful general manager in many ways but his biggest failure has been assembling solid clubs at the AHL and ECHL levels.
  • In order to develop good prospects, the Flyers need good affiliate teams. Good prospects are less likely to reach their potential without a solid supporting cast. Take the Columbus Blue Jackets, for example. Granted, CBJ is an NHL team but players like Rick Nash and Jake Voracek vastly underperformed until being moved to solid teams.
  • Another reason prospects fail to develop here is because of a lack of patience that starts with Ed Snider and trickles down to every member of the organization. Some players, like Luca Sbisa are rushed and ultimately suffer setbacks in their development. Others, like James van Riemsdyk, are on the trading block not long after being drafted and then go on to experience more success on different clubs.
  • One of the best jobs the Flyers did in recent years with handling prospects was letting Claude Giroux dominate the AHL, which gave him a chance to refine his skills and build up his confidence before getting the nod to join Philly. Scott Laughton may/should be the next player to fit that mold.
  • If the Flyers opt to go this route and manage to stockpile high 2013 draft picks, the Phantoms may not be cellar dwellers next season and, at the risk of sounding redundant, a solid AHL nucleus — also including Laughton, Jason Akeson, Kyle Flanagan, Marcel Noebels — could expedite the process of developing prospects. I would even keep Tye McGinn down in the AHL next season to help boost the team.
  • Being surrounded by a better nucleus could also allow fringe players to develop into important NHL role players.
  • The biggest concern when rushing prospects is their physical and mental maturity. A player can easily suffer serious injuries if he is not physically ready to compete against grown men in the NHL. Playing in front of a tough and sometimes demoralizing Philadelphia crowd can also hurt a player’s development (See: Sergei Bobrovsky).
  • As it currently stands, the Flyers already have the least amount of available cap space heading into next season at $2.25 million with 19 players signed. It is likely that players like, perhaps, Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere will be bought out to give the team more flexibility but it will be hard to replace those players without getting back into another financial bind.
  • Next season should not be considered one in which the Flyers will immediately right the ship and jump right back into playoff contention. With the cap going down and so many question marks clear across the board (ie. Will Bryzgalov still be the starting goalie? Will the sophomore break out of their slump? Who will coach or manage the team? Will new systems be put in place on and off the ice? Can the defense be fixed in the offseason?), next season should be considered one where the Flyers continue to rebuild.
  • Once a prospect is mature enough to make it to the NHL, the Flyers and the fans need to learn to be patient with that player and let him play through his mistakes. If next year is, indeed considered a rebuilding year, then elite prospects like Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn down to hopefuls like Erik Gustafsson would get a chance to experiment more, form chemistry, and not have too much pressure to deal with while coming into their own.
  • By focusing on prospect development and being patient, the Flyers could start attracting the high profile college free agents like defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Andrej Sustr, neither of whom seemingly had any interest in coming to Philadelphia, despite the team’s obvious and urgent need for defense.
  • A strong and deep pool of prospects allows a team to do exactly what Pittsburgh is doing right now: manage to have cap flexibility and acquire big names like Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla without emptying the cupboard.
  • Despite the rash of unfortunate injuries suffered by the Flyers this season, it is obvious that each defenseman is playing a notch or two above where he should be slotted. By acquiring a top pairing defenseman — Jay Bouwmeester, perhaps (even if it is a bit of a pipe dream), if the Flyers can afford to outbid desperate playoff teams who likely have more to offer in trade — the defense will quickly improve. Once a better system is in place and the Flyers acquire a puck-moving defenseman, the defense will be leaps and bounds above where it is now.
  • Can Braydon Coburn shake off the worst season he has had as a Flyer and become an important part of the defense again? That is anyone’s guess. Regardless, he has not lived up to his potential. He does not use his size, skating ability, or shot to his advantage. It takes rather extreme circumstances to get him fired up and bring his A game and that lackadaisical approach infected the entire team this season. For this reason, moving him may be the best option.
  • The Flyers have nothing to lose and a ton to gain by braking barriers and signing Amanda Kessel, who is the sister of both Blake and Phil Kessel, to a contract. She leads the NCAA with 97 points (44G, 53A) in 36 games and won the Kazmaier Award.
  • If you want to blame coaching for this poor season, keep in mind that the Flyers currently have the best powerplay in the NHL (24.2%) and the seventh best penalty kill in the league (84.3%). Joe Mullen and Craig Berube, who coach the special teams, should be exempt from finger pointing. The team suffers most at 5-on-5 play, at getting the puck out of their own zone, and in the shootout.