Flyers Free Agents: Best Ways for Philly to Fix Their Problems on the Blue Line
The free-agency period has been a pretty rough one for the Philadelphia Flyers, and it's clear that the team has problems on their blue line.
Ilya Bryzgalov had a difficult year for the Flyers last season, but it looks like they are going to be giving him another opportunity to prove that he can become Philadelphia's franchise goaltender. He certainly deserves another chance; one year just isn't enough time to adjust to a new environment.
On the other side of the coin, Philadelphia's forwards look to be in good shape for next year.
Apart from losing a couple of valuable players, such as Jaromir Jagr, the majority of the lines remain intact. The team has kept its most productive forwards, and there is reason to believe that there will be more production out of the younger players after their performances last year.
Then there's the defense.
The Flyers defense has had an offseason full of injuries and near-signings of free agents.
To be fair, there has only been one close call, but what a close call it was. It appeared as though the team was going to sign the highly talented Shea Weber, but his offer was suddenly matched. That had to be deflating to a large number of Flyers fans.
Losing out on Weber certainly hurts, but injuries are what is hurting the team the most right now.
Andrej Meszaros recently had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, meaning that he most likely won't be seeing the ice this year. And it doesn't look like Chris Pronger will ever be playing again after his post-concussion symptoms have refused to improve.
Adding Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs will certainly help the team, but he isn't the kind of player that will change the outlook of the defensemen. The Flyers need the kind of player that has a high-production level and the ability to grow into his role with the team.
It feels as though the majority of the NHL offseason is over; however, there are still some quality defensemen on the market—the kind of guys that the Flyers need to take a look at.
Here are three players that could help fix Philadelphia's problems on the blue line.
Michael Del Zotto
Del Zotto's most telling stat from last year was his plus/minus. He averaged over 22 minutes per game and had a plus/minus of plus-20. That means that the team scored 20 more times than the opposing squad did during even strength whenever he was on the ice last season.
He's clearly an undersized defenseman at only 6'0" and 193 pounds. But being undersized and putting up a high plus/minus means that he can produce on offense and that he takes pride in his defensive fundamentals.
Being a restricted free agent makes this a tougher grab for Philly, but he could be worth stealing from a fellow Atlantic Division rival.
John Carlson's strengths on the ice are both his size and his brain.
He is a 6'3", 211-pound defenseman that out-calculates other skaters and plays with his head to avoid mistakes.
Avoiding mistakes is exactly what he did last year.
Carlson only saw 22 minutes of penalty time. The man played in all 82 games and averaged nearly 22 minutes of ice time per game. A defenseman of his size avoiding the penalty box that well is impressive and should be looked into.
The Flyers get another opportunity at stealing a prized young player from a quality Eastern Conference opponent. The Capitals and Flyers tend to play entertaining hockey when they square off, and adding a defenseman to the squad could severely tip the scale toward the Flyers and what they are trying to build.
Another restricted free agent certainly isn't ideal, but any team looking for a quality player this late into the offseason has to look past unrestricted free agents, because that's where they'll find the talent.
Carlson could certainly skate in and contribute right away.
Okay, okay, this is a bit of a reach here. But even as a reach, P.K. Subban would be a perfect fit in black and orange.
The deal is in the final stages of being completed as the Canadiens work to lock up the 23-year-old defenseman before the old collective-bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. It was suggested earlier that Subban was pursuing a five-year deal, but it appears he may have changed his stance.
It's crazy to think that it's taken the Canadiens so long to finally lock Subban down.
Although it seems like he could be signing within the next few days, could this be the perfect time for the Flyers to sweep through with an offer that Montreal finds ridiculous and too overpriced?
Again, it's a long shot, but Subban's athleticism, fire and production all make him a potential target.