Last offseason’s aggressive reconstruction of the roster saw the loss of a captain and leading goal scorer, the influx of an expensive, eccentric goalie, four talented young players and two former rivals.
This summer should be less revolutionary, though some improvements are likely to be made.
The Flyers now have five competent defenseman, a full six if Chris Pronger is ever healthy again or they keep Matt Carle. They have plenty of cap space left to either go after a big free agent or re-sign current players.
Holmgren said the Flyers need to do a “better job of goals-against,” which suggests improving the defense will be his primary goal.
Last season, the Flyers addressed their lack of a goaltender by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract. Though Bryzgalov struggled in his first year, he showed signs of performing strongly in Philadelphia and will likely be better next season.
With the 20th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Flyers surprised some by taking center Scott Laughton despite high-ranked defenseman Olli Maata still available. Maatta went 22nd to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Though Laughton was ranked 24th in Craig Button of TSN’s final prospect rankings, his style makes him a perplexing pick for the Flyers.
He is a two-way center with defensive abilities that draw comparisons to former Flyers captain Mike Richards. Sounds great, except the Flyers already have three young players that are exactly that; Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
Though Giroux is an elite superstar, he is certainly a two-way player with defensive abilities. Schenn drew similar comparisons to Richards (and strangely enough, was traded for him). Couturier, along with his two teammate centers, proved his defensive abilities in the playoffs by helping shut down two of the world’s best offensive hockey players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Down the road, perhaps one of these players can switch to the wing instead of being relegated to the fourth line. Not many first-round draft picks aim to end up there.
On to the positives; the Flyers saw Laughton worthy of the same part of the draft where they took Giroux and Richards (and before that, Simon Gagne).
Pre-Draft Analysis (Published June 20):
The Flyers have the 20th-overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft. Their stellar history of drafting makes that position quite valuable.
Philadelphia was able to get Simon Gagne 22nd in 1998 and Claude Giroux 22nd in 2006.
With a plethora of youth on the offensive side, expect the Flyers to draft a defenseman in the first round.
Some defensemen who are likely to be available when the Flyers select include Slater Koekkoek, Matt Finn and Brady Skjei.
According to a report, Ryan is unhappy with constant trade talks in Anaheim. The Flyers are one of four teams with serious interest and Ryan said he would welcome the opportunity to play for his hometown team.
While the Flyers have enough cap space to fit Ryan's hit of $5.1 million if Jaromir Jagr is not re-signed, they may not have any players they are willing to part with after trading James van Riemsdyk to Toronto.
Update June 22, 12:51 PM
The Flyers acquired good value for a player that was better off elsewhere.
Original Publication (June 20): "Will Sergei Bobrovsky Be Traded?"
The ever-present rumor about Sergei Bobrovsky, since the Flyers signed Bryzgalov, is that the young backup would be traded.
If the Flyers do not intend to re-sign him in the 2013 offseason, when he will be a restricted free agent, trading him makes sense.
Roberto Luongo is on the trade market and Los Angeles does not need their young backup, Jonathan Bernier, who would likely draw more interest than Bobrovsky.
Despite a report two weeks ago in which Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, said he hoped a deal would be done before the draft, no deal is done. A new report from TSN’s Darren Dreger suggests Jagr will test free agency.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren himself said there is a 50-50 chance of Jagr returning, noting the unknown salary cap for 2012-'13 as part of the reasoning.
The top restricted free agent the Flyers have this summer is Jake Voracek, who made $2.25 million in the 2011-'12 season.
That contract was signed after Voracek delivered a 50-point season in 2009-'10 and a 46-point season in 2010-'11. With a 49-point season in 2011-'12, there isn’t much ground for Voracek to be commanding a huge raise. Expect the Flyers to be able to re-sign him for under $3 million per season.
Two weeks ago, Voracek’s agent, Petr Svoboda, said he was optimistic about a deal being done around the time of the draft.
Ryan Suter apparently made a list of teams he would play for, which does not include any team in the Eastern Conference.
While the Flyers are likely to look for defense, the best option apparently does not want to play for them.
If the Flyers don’t sign Jagr or Suter, it is plausible that the team could make a run at Zach Parise. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the team is interested in Parise, an unrestricted free agent, who could cost a cap hit above $7 million per season.
After trading James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn, the Flyers may have opened the spot necessary to land Parise.
Jason Sapunka is a Featured Columnist for the Philadelphia Flyers. He covers a variety of NHL topics and is available on Twitter for day-to-day updates, commentary and analysis.