Five Questions For The Philadelphia Flyers
1. Who’s your starting goaltender?
General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers Paul Holmgren committed an enormous amount of money to Ilya Bryzgalov with a nine-year, $51 million contract signed in 2011. Now, the Flyers are saving roughly $6 million every season without Mr. Universe under contract. Naturally, the Flyers had a solid backup in Sergei Bobrovsky, but they dealt him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for two draft picks (a third was traded away). What did Bobrovsky do in Columbus? Only win the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the league. So what does Philadelphia have? Steve Mason and Ray Emery. Emery was brought in on a one-year deal, while Mason backed up Bryzgalov last season. While splitting time with Corey Crawford in Chicago last season, Emery compiled a 17-1 record and a 1.94 GAA. These numbers combined with a veteran presence are why Emery should be the starter on opening night for the Flyers.
2. Can Vinny Lecavalier live up to expectations?
Hours after the Bryzgalov buyout became the largest in NHL history, the Tampa Bay Lightning made history when they bought out the longtime Lightning forward, Lecavalier. The 33-year-old center has a knack for scoring, including a 50-goal season, and two 50-assist seasons. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004. He signed a five-year deal with the Flyers. Although this Holmgren signing isn’t too egregious, signing a declining 33-year-old center to a five-year deal is risky without a doubt. Lecavalier is still a goal-scoring machine, but locking him up for five years the best investment for a Flyers’ team that will be riddled with veterans? I believe so. The Flyers’ organization wants results now, and the fans certainly do, too.
3. How awful was the Mark Streit signing?
As much as the Lecavalier signing may work out in the end, the exact opposite can be said of the Streit deal. Streit is a 35-year-old, almost washed up defenseman. The Flyers gave him a four-year deal, which means he’s under contract until he’s 39-years-old. Streit played his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens and most recently with the New York Islanders. In all but two of his seasons, Streit sported a negative +/- rating, and his two positive years were only +6 and +1. The Flyers are clearly weak on the blue line, considering the aging veteran Streit now fills into their top defensive pair with Kimmo Timonen. Philly has recently been weak on the blue line in the past couple seasons, and it seems as if every move made becomes more and more desperate. I absolutely hate this signing.
4. Is Claude Giroux a good long-term investment?
Giroux is a superstar. He is arguably the best skater on the Flyers and his raw potential grows every season. At just 25 years of age, Giroux is destined for stardom. Last season, he scored 48 points in 48 games, and the season before that, he scored 93 points and broke out as a stud. But, Giroux has often been riddled by injuries, none more notable than the freak injury he is recovering from now. A shattered golf club damaged tendons in his finger, and Giroux is now recovering. He will most likely miss around a month of the season. Giroux also just signed an eight-year, $66.2 million extension. With money like that Giroux needs to be careful and try and stay healthy while carrying the Flyers. Giroux, however, is a dynamite player who is certainly worth the money and if he can stay on the ice amid concussions and finger injuries, the deal will pay off in the future.
5. How dominant can the Flyers’ power play be in the coming season?
The Flyers were a pretty dominant team on the power play last season. They were third in the league in PP%, scoring on 21.6 percent of their chances. Jakub Voracek led the team with eight goals, while Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds both scored six on the power play. Giroux led the team in power play points with 21, which surprisingly accounted for almost half of his total points from a year ago. The Flyers relied heavily on their power play to score last year, and that couldn’t even get them into the playoffs. Philly will need dominance from their forwards on the power play, but mostly improved play in their own zone and own crease to make it back to the postseason.