We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the New Jersey Devils.
By Casey Johnston (@CaseyR82)
TUNE IN w/ THE METRO MINUTE
Metro Minute – Flyers
Click play to hear Nick Richter break down Philadelphia with Dustin Leed of The Hockey Guys
2013 Season: 23-22-3 (4th Atlantic Division, 10th Eastern Conference)
C Vincent Lecavalier
D Mark Streit
G Ray Emery
LW Michael Raffl
RW Kris Newbury
G Ilya Bryzgalov
C Danny Briere
LW Ruslan Fedotenko
D Andreas Lilja
G Brian Boucher
C Scott Laughton
D Samuel Morin
D Robert Hagg
D Brandon Manning
D Shayne Gostisbehere
G Anthony Stolartz
LW Tye McGinn
The 2012-13 season was one of downs and distractions for the Philadelphia Flyers. Hampered by injuries almost immediately out of the gate, the Flyers dropped six of their first ten games. Despite a strong finish, going 6-4 and winning four straight games, they finished in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 6 points back from the 8th and final playoff spot.
This summer was not a slow one for GM Paul Holmgren. It began with the compliance buyout of Danny Briere. Next, Holmgren bought out the last seven years of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s $51 million deal. Vincent Lecavalier, himself a victim of a buyout from the Tampa Bay Lightning, signed for five years. Defenseman Mark Streit was acquired via a trade with the New York Islanders and signed for four years. Finally, goaltender Ray Emery was brought in to push Steve Mason for a starting job. While Holmgren has met a critical reception from some of these moves, he cannot be accused of inactivity.
Photo: Yong Kim/Philly.com
The Flyers come into the 2013-14 season with much of the same forward corps as last season. Claude Giroux, who managed 48 points in 48 games, will look to regain the form that saw him finish 3rd in scoring just two years ago. Jakub Voracek should build off the career-high 22 goals he scored last year despite the 48 game schedule. Vincent Lecavalier will play second-line center with Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. While Lecavalier’s production has fallen significantly the past five years, his 32 points in 39 games last season shows that he still has plenty of hockey left in him. With Read and Simmonds, both of whom have had 20-goal seasons in a Flyers sweater, Lecavalier should have no trouble making his mark early on.
Scoring was not a problem for the Flyers as they finished 9th in goals for the 2012-13 season. The problem was in their own end where they finished 23rd in goals against. Part of the problem was the injury bug. Only two defensemen, Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn, played more than 40 games. While Timonen provided offensive support with 29 points, he was also on the ice for 28 even strength goals against. Luke Schenn, Brayden Coburn and Bruno Gervais were on for 35, 32, and 32 even strength goals against. Of the defensemen who played more than 30 games, only Nicklas Grossman was on for less than 20 goals against. The addition of Mark Streit will probably not help in this department as he also tends to be on the ice for a high number of even strength goals against (.895 and .963 per game the last two seasons). If the Flyers hope to improve and make the playoffs in 2013-14, this is a problem that needs to be solved.
As always, goaltending is a large question mark going into this season. Ray Emery had a tremendous year backing up Corey Crawford. He finished the season going 17-1 with a 1.94 GAA and .922 save%. However, Emery has not been a full-time starter since 2006-07 and has never played more than 58 games in a season. Likewise, Steve Mason found a new spark in his short time with the Flyers after being acquired via a trade from Columbus. In seven games he went 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA and .944 save%. He’s sure to come down from those numbers and possibly even revert to his career mean (a nightmare scenario for both Mason and the Flyers).
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
As the Flyers most promising defensive prospects are at least two years away from even cracking an NHL lineup, Paul Holmgren has a difficult decision to make. The defense and goaltending held the team back last year. The forward corps is young, talented, and deep. The key for the Flyers making the playoffs in 2013-14 may be Holmgren moving a forward or two for a true top-2 defenseman. If that doesn’t happen, then the Flyers’ one year of missing the playoffs may turn into a streak.