Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Most Expendable Players on the Flyers' Roster
Annually considered to be one of the most active teams in the league once the offseason hits, the Philadelphia Flyers have remained relatively quiet so far.
Philly bolstered its back end with the acquisition of Luke Schenn and has made a trio of tepid drops into free agency, nabbing forward Ruslan Fedotenko, defenseman Bruno Gervais and goaltender Michael Leighton.
All told, though, it's been a rather tame offseason to date for the traditionally wheeling-and-dealing Flyers. Still, it feels as though there are moves left to be made to elevate Philly's status in the three months before the season kicks off.
To acquire new players (either by trade or free agency) it often requires the loss of players on the existing roster. Whether it's a player-for-player swap or a salary dump to clear cap space for newcomers, an NHL roster is only so big.
With that, here are the five most expendable players currently on the Flyers' roster.
Let's start with the obvious choices.
The Flyers have their defensive core. Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros and Schenn should round out Philly's top five on the back end next year.
The Flyers can then supplement their defensive depth by rotating Gervais, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson. Simply put, there's just no room for Lilja.
The 36-year-old native of Helsingborg, Sweden is coming off a season in which he notched just six assists while suiting up in only 46 games. That marked the fourth straight campaign in which the 11-year NHL vet has played in 60 or fewer regular-season games.
Lilja does bring 66 games of postseason experience with him along with a Stanley Cup championship from back in 2008, but that hardly seems like enough to keep an aging defenseman who averaged less than 14 minutes of ice time last season on the roster.
An arguably even more expendable blueliner than Lilja is the 32-year-old Walker.
Since coming to Philadelphia nearly two years ago in the trade that sent Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Walker has played a whopping eight games for the Flyers.
After suiting up in just four games two seasons ago, the former third-round pick back in 1998 dressed in just four games this past season. What's worse, Walker has been used very sparingly in each of those eight outings, failing to top 16 minutes of ice time in each of those tilts.
Walker has one year remaining on a four-year deal he inked back in 2009 that will pay him $1.7 million next season. If there isn't room on the Flyers' back end next season for Lilja and his meager cap hit of $737,500, then there certainly isn't room for Walker.
Again, the Flyers have the majority of their defensive fixtures in place and can supplement any remaining roster spots with youth. Like Lilja, Walker just doesn't appear to fit into Philly's plans next season.
While Lilja and Walker are the odd men out defensively for the Flyers, it appears as though Shelley fills that role up front.
The 6'3", 230-pound 36-year-old forward just doesn't fit amongst a Philadelphia offensive corps that is trending younger, faster and more skilled with each passing season.
Last season, Shelley contributed just one assist and 64 penalty minutes in 30 regular-season games before being scratched in each of the team's 11 playoff games. In two seasons with the Orange and Black, Shelley has managed just two goals and five points while posting 191 penalty minutes in just 88 games.
The 11-year veteran from Thompson, Manitoba has one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $1.1 million next season. Sadly, it's just hard to see where Shelley fits in with the Flyers next season.
Philly's superstars like Claude Giroux and Danny Briere still need protection from big, physical players, but names like Coburn, Schenn, Grossmann and Wayne Simmonds should be able to provide that protection.
If a roster spot is going to produce as little offensively as Shelley has in recent years, it should at least be used to give ice time to some of the Flyers' up-and-coming forwards.
But if there's one offensive weapon that could be viewed as expendable, it's Read.
The former Bemidji State standout had a breakout season in his first year of NHL service, recording 24 goals and 47 points. Read's 24 goals paced all rookies last season while his 47 points were good for fourth best among first-year skaters.
But can the Ontario native continue to produce those kinds of numbers?
At an annual cap hit of just $900,000 for the next two years, Read presents the rare combination of offensive upside and reasonable financial commitment. As such, he's an awfully appealing target for teams like Columbus and Anaheim, who have long been rumored to be shopping high-priced forwards Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, respectively.
Again, the Flyers can ill afford to lose much more offense, but in the right package, Read could become awfully expendable if it meant bringing another top-six forward into the fold in Philly.
Starting goaltenders aren't often expendable pieces within an NHL roster. But with what the Flyers are shelling out for Bryzgalov and what they've received in exchange, it's only fair to put the netminder on this list.
Bryzgalov had a totally average first season in Philadelphia after signing a massive nine-year, $51 million deal. He posted a 33-16-7 overall record while recording a 2.48 goals-against average coupled with a .909 save percentage. Perfectly adequate numbers for a goaltender who had the league's third-best offense in front of him.
But when compared to recent goalies in Flyers history, those numbers simply fall in line with the mediocrity Philly has endured in net for years.
As the most active netminder two years ago, Sergei Bobrovsky recorded a 2.59 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. During the 2009-2010 campaign, Brian Boucher notched a 2.76 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Finally, during the 2008-2009 season, Martin Biron registered a 2.76 goals-against average to go along with a .915 save percentage.
During those three seasons, the Flyers endured a $1.75 million cap hit for Bobrovsky, a $925,000 hit for Boucher and a $3.5 million price tag for Biron. In other words, they received relatively similar production at a far cheaper price.
Bryzgalov's contract is utterly unmovable and after his postseason meltdown last season, there isn't a long list of teams lining up to barter for his services.
Still, unless his production starts to reflect his salary, Bryzgalov will continue to be viewed as expendable.
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