The Flyers regressed last season and they made some significant transactions in the off season to try to revamp their franchise. Unfortunately most of those moves included signing veteran players to large and long term contracts. Not quite the formula which grants decades of playoff appearances and Stanley Cup changes.
The Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier to a five year $22.5 million deal. Lecavalier had a great season last year in Tampa Bay with 32 points and he will likely continue his success in Philadelphia. I might just be a Lecavalier fan but I do like this move by the Flyers although I would have liked a shorter and smaller deal from them although it was probably not possible if they wanted to securee Lecavalier. Philadelphia also signed veteran defenseman Mark Streit from the Islanders to a four year $21 million deal. This is a huge contract for Streit and I'm not convinced that he is worth the dough. Both of these additions are former captains who will certainly add leadership to the Flyers.
Philadelphia used their buyout options to let go of Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov. They were able to replace Bryzagalov with Chris Mason and Ray Emery. Mason was acquired last season started seven games for Philadelphia. Ray Emery was signed from the Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks and he posted a 17-1 record with under a 2.00 GAA. Emery benefited from playing on the supreme Chicago club which had one of the best defenses in the league. We expect Emerys numbers to drop off significantly this season. The Flyers did their best to shore up the goaltending situation but I wouldn't get too excited about the Emery-Mason combination if I was a Flyers fan.
On offense the Flyers are returning much of their talent from last season including Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek amd Wayne Simmonds. Lecavalier will bring some major skills to the Flyers second line. We expect the Flyers to be pretty good on offense this season especially if Scott Hartnell is healthy.
On defense, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn will likely start as the top duo. Timonen had 29 points last season Mark Streit and Erik Gustafsson will also form a pairing. The Flyers should improve on the defensive side of the ice this year.
The Flyers by all accords should be a better team this season. You have to wonder how long Philadelphia's management can make reckless decisions without destroying the franchise. They made some questionable decisions during the off season but it should pay off in the short term. The Flyers will only get as far as their goalies though and it is tough to tell how far the Emery-Mason combination can carry this club.
Odds to win Stanley Cup: 30/1