Alright, so living in the Philly area, all I hear about are the Flyers, it sucks. The last two years, "Flyers are Cup bound" blah blah blah, and me, whether or not I have a bias against them, never believed it. I knew that to win Flyers to reach the finals two years ago, which I see as a fluke, but nonetheless they got there, because their goalies were playing well. Last year, same story, strong offense, strong defense, and a three goaltender tandem, and surprise surprise, it didn't work. Holmgren finally learned his first lesson about building a cup team, you must have strong goaltending, and although I'm not sold on Bryz, he is a big improvement over whatever goalie they used. Now he will learn his next lesson, which is that you need to be strong down the middle and unfortunate for them, they traded away their two best centers. So he is a little rough depth chart and line speculation after the jump... Keep in mind, these are the listed positions of players, but not particularly where they have played, or are capable of playing and are in no particular order.
So let's discuss lines
Pretty solid line with a couple good playmakers with good shots and a decently sized PWF
Line 2 this is where the speculation comes, personally I'd go
This line screams boom or bust, Schenn is unproven at this level, Jagr hasn't played at this level in quite a while and is old, and Voracek, although not a bust, has not lived up to his potential. Jagr at the least, should be able to protect Schenn and mentor him.
Not gonna lie, this is actually a pretty solid third line, not too shabby, although Hartnell being paid that 4.5 mill is quite a bit for the roll he may be taking this year. I just feel Voracek is more useful on the 2nd line than Hartnell.
I opted out of Shelley, because he really is like Koci, just fights, and really doesn't do much. Not that great of a 4th line, but could be worse. Honorable mention to Sean Couturier who may make the team out of camp.
On to the defense, and in my opinion, the strongest part of this team
Line 1 (I am not sure of which side they play on, so it is just pairings as opposed to LD and RD)
Pretty solid with some good offensive upside\
personally, I think Meszaros is better than either, but last year he played 3rd line, so I'll keep him there
I'm going with Gustafsson because he is a solid prospect, and in my opinion, ready to make the jump. He needs some time in the NHL to develop, and there isn't a better time than ever.
Solid goaltending, and someone to mentor Bobrovsky.
So what this tells me, is that I am not sure whether or not the Flyers are a playoff team. That second line (although probably interchangeable with the third, switch them if you wish) is not that great of a third line. Their season, much like ours, relies on a bunch of "if"s. They will make the playoffs IF the second and third line hold up, IF Jagr can play at a decent level, IF Schenn lives up to the height, IF Bryzgalov can be a competent goaltender in a big city and IF their defense stays healthy (we all saw what happened when Pronger was hurt). Don't get me wrong, the return they got in the trades, was great, but, if you grade trades by who got the best player, they lost both, and traded away 59 goals and 73 assists. Losing Leino to FA lost them 19 goals and 34 assists which is a total of 78 goals and 107 assists. That is quite a bit of production. One prediction I do have, is that JVR breaks out this year, he showed flashes of brilliance in the playoffs, taking more shots than anyone, although it seemed like he could not finish. What do you think Avs fans? Are the Flyers playoff bound? or in a mini rebuild?
Personally I do not think they are playoff bound, and this rebuild may take a while because Pronger and Timmonen are both 36 and not getting any younger. Jagr is obviously 39 (and I still think it's a stupid signing) and Briere is 33, still is a game changer, but he is getting older. Time will tell. Happy 4th of July to fellow Americaners and Happy late Canada Day to my friends up north.