Something, something, intro paragraph. Fluff, yay!
- Let’s start off by facing the cold, hard truth. There is something like a 1% chance (with a 1% margin of error) that the Flyers could make the playoffs this season. Pointless wins are meaningless. Planning for next year is significantly more important at this point.
- So, what does that mean? Well, for starters, it does not mean that your loyalty as a fan is not contingent upon whether or not you want the team to win the remaining games of the season. The rational choice is to do what it takes to make the team better in the long run.
- Younger players should be given increased responsibilities, including Oliver Lauridsen, Erik Gustafsson, Steve Mason, and Tye McGinn. The known commodities, like Kimmo Timonen and Ilya Bryzgalov do not need to be overplayed and risk being injured.
- The remaining games of the season should also provide an opportunity to call up some AHLers to see how their game transitions to the NHL.
- Plain and simple, more losses = higher chance at a better draft pick. While we all complained about how the Pittsburgh Penguins tanked to load up on the generational talent, we cannot deny the outcome. In the long run, are we better off pointing fingers at Pittsburgh or hoping that we end up with the first overall pick and draft Seth Jones? I’m going with the latter but, if you want to go down with guns blazing, more power to you.
- If the Flyers manage to draft in a spot where Jones is available, I believe they will take him. Otherwise, given their (lack of) history in drafting and developing defenders in the first round leads me to believe that the Flyers will draft the best available player and, with any luck, that will be Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin.
- No matter who the team drafts it won’t provide the immediate help the team needs on defense. Expect a key forward to be moved as part of an overpayment for a defenseman in trade. No matter what advanced stats say, trading for Keith Yandle and signing Mark Streit would have an immediate and positive impact on the defense.
- Moving Braydon Coburn will also have the same affect. He has a lot of trade value, despite his injury and poor play this season. I fully expect the Flyers to make a deal that might include him and another player or draft pick to gain a pick late in the first round. The Flyers have a knack for finding offensive gems *cough* Claude Giroux *cough* in the bottom third of the first round. If the team ends up with a top 3 pick and a bottom third pick in the first round, followed by a high second round pick, it will be an absolute coup and Philly’s prospect depth will make a great leap forward in the organizational rankings.
- After the Frozen Four ends tonight, I wonder if Erik Hartzell’s name will be linked to the Flyers. The Hobey Baker snubbed goalie posted a .934 SV% and 1.53 GAA in 41 games for Quinnipiac University this season. Adding him could provide some healthy goalie competition for the quickly-rising prospect, Anthony Stolarz.
- The Petr Straka signing was a solid and somewhat surprising win for the Flyers. The former 2nd round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets confirmed that he had over ten offers from various NHL clubs, according to Dustin Leed, and the Flyers have rarely won such competitions in recent years. I half-jokingly believe that, by default, he is already one of the top five prospects on the Flyers, which is far from a hard goal to accomplish at this point.
- Ilya Bryzgalov, who has posted mediocre numbers that are not in line with his salary, was strongly considered to be a likely candidate for an amnesty buyout this offseason. Just days after ripping into the media for the quality of their reporting, Howard Eskin stated this morning that Bryz will definitely be back next season. The timing is curious and the source is questionable at the moment — especially after Eskin was recently ripped by the national media for stating that Sidney Crosby had another concussion. However, neither outcome would surprise me. There is plenty of reason to believe Bryzgalov will be shipped out of Philly the first chance he gets. At the same time, Ed Snider stated that he did not blame the season on Bryzgalov and was happy with the play and it is no secret that his words carry a lot of weight.
- In my opinion, the outcome of this situation is contingent upon factors like Mason’s play and the availability of another veteran goaltender, like Nicklas Backstrom this offseason. Another factor might be how much money the Flyers need to clear up to make moves this summer.
- If focus moves away from Bryzgalov, I believe that both fans and the media will turn their attention to Scott Hartnell, whose seven points in 24 games raises a number of questions. Combined with his high salary, reluctance to waive his no trade clause, his inconsistency from season to season, his role becoming increasingly redundant as players like McGinn and Wayne Simmonds continue to come into their own, and the team’s alleged pursuit of Ryan Clowe, one has to wonder if he is still a fit in Philly.
- Danny Briere? Goner.
- Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko, Max Talbot, Zac Rinaldo, Adam Hall, and Sean Couturier (assuming he is not traded), round out a solid bottom six and that played a pivotal role in the Flyers success a few years back. The roster really came into focus as these players were acquired and gelled. Although the focus this offseason will be on defense, it would be a regrettable mistake to lose site of this and not keep this group together.
- I decided to head over to CapGeek and play my favorite game, Armchair GM. Some assumptions made for the roster: Couturier is traded in a deal for Yandle, Meszaros and Pronger are on LTIR (or Mesz is traded), whatever player(s) the Flyers draft this year do not make the team, Briere and Brygalov are bought out. The numbers are not perfect but this could give you an idea of one way that the roster could take shape coming into next season.
*The word Musings was used without permission. Sorry, Bill!