Philadelphia Flyers: Ranking Flyers' Top 10 Scoring Threats in 2012-13

Dan Fremuth@@hometownphanContributor IIIJuly 17, 2012

Philadelphia Flyers: Ranking Flyers' Top 10 Scoring Threats in 2012-13

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    The biggest priority for the Philadelphia Flyers heading into this offseason was improving the team's defense. 

    After allowing 232 goals during the regular season (second-worst among Eastern Conference playoff teams), the Flyers scuffled in the playoffs surrendering 44 goals-against in just 11 postseason tilts.

    Sadly, it's been one step forward (acquisition of Luke Schenn), one step back (loss of Matt Carle via free agency) when it comes to improving the team's defensive efforts this summer.

    As such, even more will be expected of the Flyers' offense this season after posting the NHL's third-highest goal total a season ago.

    Here's a look at the top 10 names expected to lead the scoring charge this season for the Orange and Black.

10. Maxime Talbot

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    Talbot is coming off career highs in both goals (19) and points (34) from a season ago and is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of offensive talent the Flyers boast at the center position.

    The native of Lemoyne, Quebec had never surpassed 13 goals and 26 points in a single season until last year when he did it while logging third- and fourth-line minutes.

    Talbot is a gritty, two-way forward who didn't see much power play time last season and likely won't factor into Philly's power play plans this season.  As such, much, if not all, of his production will have to come at even strength or while shorthanded.

    His willingness to go to the net and scrap for second-chance opportunities bodes well for another solid 30-35 point campaign. At just 28 years old, the window is certainly there to see that total increase in the years to come.

9. Matt Read

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    In his first season of NHL service, Read paced all rookies and finished fourth among all Flyers skaters with 24 goals.  His 47 points were good for fourth-best among all NHL rookies and it was genuinely mind-boggling how Read was omitted from last year's Calder Trophy ballot.

    The former Bemidji State standout showed last season he can play in all situations (four power play goals, 11 power play points, two shorthanded goals) and the Flyers will likely continue to rely on Read to log critical minutes in all situations next year.

    It's hard to imagine an increase in production next season simply because Read's offensive input a season ago was so unexpected.  Still, if he can find his way onto the wing of one of Philly's top two lines and continue to see occasional man-advantage minutes, a 35-40 point season seems highly likely for Read.

8. Sean Couturier

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    Another of Philly's phenomenal first-year skaters from last season, Couturier notched 13 goals and 27 points in 77 games a year ago.

    Coming off a season in which he averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time per game, Couturier stands to see more ice this season after proving late last season to be one of the Flyers' more reliable and responsible forwards.

    He should find himself among Philadelphia's top-nine forwards entering next season but could see his offensive opportunities diminished if he's tasked with shutting down the opposition's top forwards as he was so apt at doing last postseason.

    Still, if the Flyers don't make any more significant additions up front this offseason, Couturier could land some power play time next year and added offense would certainly come as a result.  He doesn't quite seem primed for a breakout season just yet but an increase over last season's point total seems all but guaranteed.

7. Wayne Simmonds

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    Like Talbot, Simmonds recorded career bests in both goals and points in his first season in a Flyers sweater.

    The 6'2", 180-pound power forward tallied 28 goals and 49 points last season and finished the year tied for second among all Flyers in goals scored.  A punishing force at the front of the net, Simmonds also finished second on the team with 11 power play goals.

    Simmonds, who turns 24 in late August, should have ample opportunity next season to build on his career totals from a year ago.  The Flyers may have depth at center but are lacking on the wings after the departure of both Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk. 

    As such, Simmonds should find himself among Philly's top six forwards to start the year and should continue to see plenty of power play minutes while parked atop the opposition's goal crease.

    The opportunities certainly appear to be there for Simmonds.  The question now is whether or not he will take advantage of them.  If he does, he could quickly bolt up to No. four or five on this list.  If not, he could slip back to nine or 10.

6. Kimmo Timonen

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    The only defenseman on this list, Timonen is a model of scoring consistency on the back end.

    The Finnish blueliner led all Flyers defensemen in scoring last season with 43 points and in doing so notched the eighth 40-point campaign of his 13-year NHL career.

    In five seasons in Philly, Timonen has tallied between 37 and 44 points in each of those campaigns while missing just 11 games.  He's also been a fixture on the Flyers' power play recording 113 man advantage points during that time.

    Barring any further offseason movement, Philadelphia will enter the season with eight defensemen in the mix but none with the offensive abilities of Timonen.  The swap of Carle for Schenn on the back end may have made the Flyers defense sturdier but far less explosive.

    As a result, Timonen will be relied on heavily to log big minutes in all situations and will have every opportunity to eclipse the 43 points he registered a season ago.

5. Brayden Schenn

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    This may seem like a bit of a stretch after Schenn notched just a dozen points in 54 games last season but the stars seem aligned for the former fifth overall pick to produce a breakout year.

    With the departure of Jagr and van Riemsdyk, the Flyers offense isn't as deep as it was three months ago.  That means the opportunity is there for Schenn to find his way onto one of Philly's top three lines.  Whether it's centering the team's third line or landing on the wing of one of the top two lines, the opportunity to produce offense will surely be there.

    Schenn will also have the benefit of suiting up for a full NHL season.  While recording just 12 points in 54 regular season games, the 6'1", 190 lb forward tallied nine points in 11 postseason tilts and appeared to be turning a corner just as the season was coming to a close.

    Finally, it's impossible to quantify the comfort factor and sibling rivalry that now exists with brother Luke on the roster as well.  Both players are expected to push one another in the years to come and that should lead to a breakout campaign for Brayden beginning in the Fall.

4. Jake Voracek

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    Like Schenn, Voracek was in the midst of his best hockey of the year just as the season was coming to an end.

    In his first season in Philadelphia, Voracek finished tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 49 points—just one point shy of a career high.  But a good chunk of that production came in the season's final two months.

    After closing the regular season with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his final 17 games, Voracek erupted in the playoffs recording 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 11 postseason contests.  The opportunities certainly appear in place to carry that momentum over into next season.

    A strong skating winger with tremendous durability (missed just nine games in four NHL seasons), Voracek is clearly among Philly's top six forwards and should continue to see steady minutes on the point of one of the Flyers' power plays.

3. Danny Briere

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    Like Timonen, Briere has been a model of scoring consistency throughout his NHL career.

    The Gatineau, Quebec native finished tied with Voracek for fourth in team scoring last season with 49 points.  That total brought Briere to within just one point of notching the ninth 50-point campaign in his 14-year NHL career.

    An undersized forward, Briere has always had to be creative to find time and space to create offensive opportunities but he remains one of the most skilled players in the league and is deadly on the power play.  He tallied 17 points on the man advantage last season and has averaged 19 power play points in five seasons in Philadelphia.

    The biggest question for Briere at this stage of his career is durability.  After missing 53 games three years ago, the 34-year-old forward has managed to suit up in 222 of a possible 246 regular season games since.  If healthy, the points will come and come in bunches.

2. Scott Hartnell

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    Hartnell has had the benefit of being in the right place at the right time in recent years.

    Two years ago, he managed the then second-highest goal total of his career (24) while developing tremendous chemistry with Briere and former Flyer Ville Leino.

    And last year, Hartnell complemented the stunningly-gifted line of Jagr and Claude Giroux.  In the process, the Regina, Saskatchewan native tallied career highs in goals (37), assists (30) and points (67).  He also landed a team-leading 16 power-play goals, which was good for second-best among all NHLers.

    In recent years, Hartnell has quietly become one of the most consistent offensive contributors in the game today.  He's managed 40 or more points in each of the last five seasons and has missed an astounding three games during that time.

    He's solidified himself as one of Philly's top wingers and as a result gets to play with one of the best players on the planet (Giroux).  He'll continue to receive big minutes with the team's top power play and might even chip in a few shorthanded points here and there.

    Sure, Hartnell's been in the right place in recent years but he's made the most of his opportunities and should continue to be a scoring force for the Orange and Black next season. 

1. Claude Giroux

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    No surprises here.

    He's not only the top scoring threat for the Flyers, he's one of the most dynamic, skilled, gifted and creative offensive talents in the entire NHL.

    The Hearst, Ontario native led all Flyers in scoring last season and finished third among all NHLers with 93 points a year ago.  That total included a league-leading 65 assists to go along with an NHL-best 38 power play points.

    Giroux has paced the Flyers in scoring in each of the last two seasons and has averaged better than a point-per-game during that span recording 169 points in 159 regular season games.

    After his postseason exploits last season, Giroux will no longer take anyone by surprise but it's impossible to contain a world-class talent like him.  He's Philly's first line center, the team's main power play catalyst and one of the elite talents in the game today.

    Not only will Giroux lead the Flyers in scoring next season but it's quite possible he'll lead the entire NHL as well.