Philadelphia Flyers: 4 Players Bound to Regress Next Season
A number of Flyers players were playing for new contracts last year, which could help explain why they had impressive seasons in 2011-12. Some other key players on the team are getting older and could see their production start to decline soon.
Let's look at four Flyers players who will likely regress this year.
Scott Hartnell was playing for the final big contract of his career last season, and he didn't disappoint.
The star winger scored a career-high 37 goals, and he also added 30 assists. His performance was rewarded in the summer when he signed a six-year, $28 million contract.
With Jakub Voracek likely replacing Jaromir Jagr on the Flyers' first line alongside Hartnell and Claude Giroux, it's hard to imagine the 30-year-old veteran matching his 2011-12 stats this season.
Voracek will be a major part of that line's success, and his offensive production will improve because of Giroux's playmaking ability.
Last year was the first time that Hartnell scored over 30 goals and racked up more than 60 points in a single season, so it wouldn't be surprising if he scored anywhere from 45-55 points this year.
Danny Briere's 49 points last year was his lowest single-season total (full seasons only) for the Flyers since he joined the team for the 2007-08 season. His 16 goals scored was also the lowest of his Flyers career.
Since he scored 78 points for the Flyers in 2007-08, he has racked up more than 60 points and 30-plus goals in just one season (2010-11).
It's unlikely that he will reach the 70-point mark or score 30-plus goals this season unless he is more aggressive offensively. Briere took just 174 shots last season, which was 72 less than his total the year before.
He will still be a quality No. 2 center who is reliable in clutch situations this year, but at 35 years old, his days as a top-tier center are beginning to end.
Maxime Talbot had the most impressive offensive season of his career last year when he set career highs in goals, assists and points.
Not many people expected him to score 34 points when he put up 21, seven and 22 points in the three seasons prior to last year, but the Flyers were certainly pleased that he had a positive impact offensively.
It would be unfair to expect Talbot to score 30-plus points again this season when young Flyers players such as Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds could have career years from an offensive standpoint.
For Talbot to help the Flyers, he just needs to impact games physically and excel on the penalty kill. Talbot's offensive production could regress this year, but that doesn't mean he won't help Philadelphia win games.
Could Ilya Bryzgalov actually play worse in 2012-13 than he did in his first season in Philadelphia?
The 32-year-old goaltender probably won't have the same defensive depth and talent in front of him that he did last season, and without a true No. 1 defenseman, Bryzgalov will have to play much better for the Flyers to earn a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Most of Bryzgalov's success happened in Phoenix, where he excelled in the Coyotes' defense-first style of play, which is what current Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is playing well in.
The Flyers don't play a defensive style of hockey because their offense is so talented, among other reasons.
Unless Bryzgalov surprisingly improves this season, don't expect his stats to be any better in 2012-13. His GAA and save percentage in last year's playoffs were actually worse than his regular season numbers.
If injuries continue to weaken the Flyers' blue line, Bryzgalov will once again struggle to give the team good performances between the pipes on a consistent basis.