Shea Weber Stays with Predators: Will the Flyers Make the Playoffs in 2013?

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Shea Weber Stays with Predators: Will the Flyers Make the Playoffs in 2013?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Weber's offer from the Philadelphia Flyers was matched by the Nashville Predators this morning

When the Nashville Predators matched the Philadelphia Flyers enormous offer for Shea Weber this morning, the Flyers faithfuls had to emotionally rebound from a disappointing offseason so far.

With Ruslan Fedotenko (New York Rangers) and Bruno Gervais (Tampa Bay Lightning) being the only two major additions this offseason, many Philly fans believe that the Flyers needed to make a big splash in free agency or through a trade.

When Rick Nash was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the dreaded New York Rangers yesterday, many prognosticators felt that the Flyers missed a chance to help not only make the playoffs next season and to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

There are only two more major pieces that seem to be left for the Flyers to try to acquire: Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes (UFA) and Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks (trade).

If the Flyers are unable to secure Doan or Ryan, do they have enough pieces to make a run at the Cup next season?

Offensively, the Flyers will need a excellent season from their most consistent point producer Claude Giroux. Giroux is coming off a career best 93-point season and will need to duplicate or even surpass his performance of last year to put the Flyers in good playoff position.

Scott Hartnell is also coming off a career best season, scoring 37 goals and 67 points.  Hartnell serves as the physical, blue-collar-type player that the city of Philadelphia respects and loves.  If he can duplicate these statistics, it would be a surprise, but a blessing for the Flyers. 

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Giroux will be expected to carry the load once again for the Flyers next season

Daniel Briere needs to step up his production to try to replace the points lost when Jaromir Jagr signed with the Dallas Stars during the early portion of the free agency period. Briere is coming off of a down year scoring only 16 goals and 49 points in 70 games, his worst in a season in which he played 70 games or more. Briere will need to get back to his 60+ point production level if the Flyers are anticipating making a run at the Stanley Cup.

A pair of 23 year-old forwards made their mark with the Flyers last season. Jakub Voracek had a consistent season, scoring near the 50-point mark for the third time in his three NHL seasons. Voracek is establishing himself as a physical presence and a point producer that the Flyers will continue to need to score.

Wayne Simmonds scored a career high 28 goals and 49 points for the Flyers this season and will need to continue to develop his ferocious style and skill set for the Flyers to excel next season. 

Two rookies also helped shoulder the offensive burden for the orange and black last season. Matt Read is a late bloomer that the Flyers were lucky to have found. During his rookie season in 2011-2012, the 26-year-old collected 24 goals and 47 points.

Sean Couturier was a big points producer in junior hockey and kicked off his NHL career amassing 14 goals and 27 points. If these two can produce more next season, the Flyers will be in good shape moving forward.

Defensively, the Flyers are not sure about Captain Chris Pronger. According to NBCSports.com, the future is not clear as to when, or if, he will return from post-concussive issues. Weber was seen as a potential long term replacement to Pronger before the offer was matched this morning.

How far will the Flyers go next season

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The Flyers still have enough at the back-end to compete at a high level, though. Veterans Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn are still solid and provide leadership for other up-and-coming defenseman. Timonen lead all Flyers defenseman in points with 43 last season. Coburn plays a physical game patrolling the blue line. He also chipped in 24 points last season with a plus 10 rating.

Bruno Gervais and Andrej Meszaros are proven top-6 defenseman and will provide stability to the blue line contingent. Meszaros can play on the power play and collected 25 points last season. Gervais is a stay-at-home defenseman who can play major minutes when necessary.  

Luke Schenn will be expected to pick up his game. The young 22-year-old defenseman, who was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for James van Riemsdyk, will be expected to log a lot of minutes and provide physicality with his 6'2", 229 lbs. frame.

The loss of Matt Carle will hurt. Carle moved on to Tampa Bay during the free agency period after putting up 4 goals and 34 assists from the blue line for the Flyers last season. The Flyers have an interesting mix of some young defenseman and some veterans who will compete for the final defensive position.

Nicklas Grossman is a 27-year-old with the inside edge having played in 74 games last season amassing 11 assists for Dallas and Philadelphia.

Watch out for two young defenseman to compete well for that position, though. Both Erik Gustafsson (23 years old) and Brandon Manning (22 years old) are slick, offensively minded defenseman that could crack the roster come opening day.

In net, Ilya Bryzgalov will have to play exceptionally well to return the Flyers to the playoffs. Last season, Bryzgalov won 33 games while putting up a 2.48 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Those are good stats, but "Bryz" is going to have to be better than that in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference.

So, will the Flyers make the playoffs?  As it stands now, the answer is yes.

I think they will finish third in their division and sixth in the Eastern Conference this season. If they are able to add a Bobby Ryan or a Shane Doan, they could catapult into fourth or higher.

The Rangers have reloaded, the Penguins will have a healthy Malkin and Crosby back, yet the Flyers have lost two important pieces (Jagr, Carle) without adding the guns to keep up with those division foes.

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