Coming off a disappointing season where they finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers will look towards the 2013-14 season as a much-needed bounce-back year.
While the 2011-12 season saw new faces in Philadelphia take a huge step forward in their respective careers, last season saw some of those same faces take a huge step backwards.
After the Flyers ousted the Pittsburgh Penguins two seasons ago in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs en route to an Eastern Conference Semifinal birth, the Flyers failed to make the postseason last year for the first time since 2007.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren felt that in order to make the playoffs once again, the roster needed a much-needed bolster. Thus, Holmgren and head coach Peter Laviolette brought in NHL veterans Mark Streit, Vincent Lecavalier and Ray Emery to improve Philadelphia's roster. With these new additions come higher expectations for the orange and black.
However, if the Flyers will have any hope of returning to the playoffs, many players on the roster will need to have an improved year from last season. While superstars Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek led an injury-plagued Flyers team, their contributions were not enough to lead the Flyers to a postseason birth.
With that said, here is my list of five Flyers players who need to have bounce-back years in order for Philadelphia to return to the postseason.
After a career year in 2011-12 where he tallied 67 points, including 37 goals, in 82 games, Scott Hartnell faced an injury-plagued season last year. Able to play in only 32 games, Hartnell managed to only gather 11 points.
Hartnell, 31, will be looked to play on the top line this season with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, two of the most promising young players in the league. Everything is set up for Hartnell to have a bounce-back season.
Known for his aggressive and physical style of play, Hartnell also has the skill and talent to be a top-line player in this league.
Being a veteran on this team, Hartnell will serve as a role model for the younger players on the Flyers roster as well. However, the best way for Hartnell to do this is to lead by example and put up points.
If the Flyers are to stand a chance this season in a tough Eastern Conference, the Scott Hartnell of old will have to return to the Wells Fargo Center.
Matt Read literally came out of nowhere a couple of seasons ago.
After playing for little-known Bemidji State University in 2010-11, Read joined the Flyers two seasons ago and instantly became one of the top rookies in the NHL.
In his first year with Philadelphia, Read tallied 24 goals along with 23 assists through 79 games on his way to becoming one of the Flyers' top goal scorers.
However, Read suffered a bit of a sophomore slump last season, as he only was able to gather 24 points through 42 games.
While there is no doubting Read's potential and talent, it is safe to say that the Flyers management and coaching staff will expect a lot more from Read in his third year as a professional.
Projected to be a third line winger, Read would do the Flyers a whole lot of good if he is able to return to his rookie season form this coming year.
Here's another player that was bitten by the injury bug in Philadelphia last season.
Coburn, a 28-year-old defenseman, is coming off of a separated shoulder that forced him to miss the Flyers' final nine games of last season.
Add that to the fact that Coburn only managed to tally five points through 33 games last season, and you get a player that needs to seriously prove himself in 2012-13.
After being the subject of plenty of trade talk during the summer, it is still unsure if Coburn will even be on the Flyers roster this season. However, with Coburn still relatively young and full of talent, I expect him to stay in Philadelphia.
However, there is no doubting that the Flyers will need Coburn to return to the top of his game, especially with the defensive issues that Philadelphia had last season.
If the Flyers are to return to the playoffs next season, Coburn will need to start playing like a top-line defenseman once again.
After a promising first season with the Flyers, where he tallied 18 points through 54 games, Brayden Schenn suffered through a miserable campaign last year.
Scoring only eight times through 47 contests, Schenn was one of the Flyers most disappointing players last year.
Still, Schenn is only 21 years old and is still learning his way through the NHL. Schenn is still just a kid, and has a very, very promising career ahead of him.
However, after being the centerpiece of the trade that sent former Flyer Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings, it's about time for Schenn to start living up to the expectations set forth by Flyers management.
Projected to be a second line winger, Schenn may very well have the opportunity to play with one of the best second line centers in the game, Vincent Lecavalier. This will only improve Schenn's chances of having a bounce-back year for Philadelphia, and helping the Flyers return to the postseason.
After being arguably Philadelphia's top rookie in 2011-12, Sean Couturier endured a prototypical "sophomore slump" last season.
Having put up 27 points through 77 games in his first season in the NHL, and shutting down superstar Evgeni Malkin in the 2012 NHL playoffs, expectations were sky high for the second-year player out of Phoenix, Arizona.
However, the 2011 first round draft pick disappointed for the Flyers and their fans last season, tallying only 15 points through 46 games.
While expectations may have been a little too high for "Coots" last season, there is no doubting that he should have performed better on the ice. Slotting in at the third-line center role, Couturier will have every chance to prove his doubters wrong this season.
While being known for a defensive forward, Couturier will need to put up more points and contribute more offensively in his third season as a professional.
Still only 20 years old, Couturier is one of the Flyers' most promising prospects. However, there is no time like the present for Couturier to become a true superstar on this team.
The Philadelphia Flyers may very well have been the best team in the NHL last season to not make the playoffs.
However, as we all know, having a great roster on paper means absolutely nothing. In the end, it's up to the players to perform up to—and exceed—the lofty expectations that are set forth to them.
After the additions of Lecavalier, Streit and Emery, the Flyers should have enough talent to get back into the playoffs this season.
However, it is up to guys like Couturier, Schenn and Coburn to make sure of that. After rough seasons last year, all three of them will look forward to this year to be their saving grace.
If these guys, among others on the Flyers roster, can step up this season and bounce back from disappointing years, then the Flyers have every chance to return to the postseason and make a run at their first Stanley Cup since 1975.
Now, have your say! Are there any players that I missed that you want to see bounce back this season? Give me your opinions, as well as predictions for the upcoming Flyers season in the comment thread below!