Reassessing Philadelphia Flyers' Season Outlook After the Trade Deadline

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Reassessing Philadelphia Flyers' Season Outlook After the Trade Deadline
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sure, the Philadelphia Flyers made some minor adjustments in advance of Wednesday's trade deadline, but this is largely the same team with exactly the same outlook as it had 72 hours ago.

A team traditionally among the most active at the deadline, the Flyers were eerily quiet this year adding little more than depth bodies to fill an injury-plagued roster. 

The loss of Max Talbot for the reminder of the season with a broken leg forced GM Paul Holmgren to acquire depth up front and so Jay Rosehill was added from the Anaheim Ducks.

Similarly, the uncertainty surrounding Andrej Meszaros' shoulder injury prompted the acquisition of Kent Huskins from the Detroit Red Wings for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Hardly the kind of moves that will send Flyers fans racing to Fan Gear for new merchandise.

Even the biggest move of the day for Philadelphia—acquisition of goaltender Steve Mason from Columbus—is nothing more than a depth addition behind the enigmatic starter Ilya Bryzgalov.

And while Philly fans may have been hopeful for the team's usual big splash, the lack of movement serves as a stark reminder that this team simply isn't ready to compete. At least not yet.

The Flyers have been ravaged with injuries this season, and that's certainly affected their ability to be an impact team in a shortened season. Scott Hartnell, the team's leading goal scorer from a year ago, missed 16 games early in the season while Danny Briere, the club's fourth-best scorer last year, has missed 10 games including six straight contests.

And the injuries haven't just affected the forwards.

The aforementioned Meszaros has dressed in only 11 games this season, while Nicklas Grossmann, like Briere, has missed six straight outings. Meanwhile, Braydon Coburn has also missed three straight games and is out indefinitely with a separated shoulder.

But it isn't just injuries that leaves this team short of the true contenders in the Eastern Conference. Many of Philadelphia's young stars either got off to slow starts or simply haven't taken the strides upper management felt they would.

Claude Giroux, the third-leading scorer in the league last year, opened with just four points in seven games in the season's first month. In fact, through the first 13 games this year, Giroux had just seven points.

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Meanwhile, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, two of the franchise's top prospects, mustered a combined five points in the season's first month and have both endured long scoreless droughts this year. Schenn failed to point in 10 straight games in March, while Couturier was held off the score sheet in 15 consecutive outings from late-February through March.

All in all, it's been a growing year for the Flyers, as the team strives to retain a viable lineup throughout a wave of injuries. In other words, it's not the climate to make drastic adjustments at the trade deadline.

This is a team built for the long haul. Names like Giroux, Schenn, Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek will be pieces of the puzzle for many years to come, and it's not worth disrupting that framework for a blockbuster trade that doesn't even guarantee inclusion in this year's postseason.

This team has continued to develop throughout the year and with Wednesday's come-from-behind 5-3 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens, earned its first three-game winning streak of the season.

The Orange and Black are clearly headed in the right direction but also clearly have some work to do before they get there.

The Flyers need to close out this season with the roster they have and brutally assess each and every player's role on this team at the season's end.

The shortened season really exacerbated Philadelphia's slow start, but if the Flyers are somehow able to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs with the group they currently have, then it will say a lot about the players on hand.

If they can't, it may say equally as much.

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