Grading the Philadelphia Flyers' 2013 Offseason
The Philadelphia Flyers had yet another interesting offseason full of big moves. They took advantage of the new buyout rule while also pursuing big-name free agents.
In all, they had five significant moves that are all worth discussing in further detail. The roster itself does not actually look remarkably different, but there are a few very significant names that have changed.
Grades are pretty arbitrary and vary based on perspective and expectations, but the discussions they trigger can be insightful and worthwhile.
Here are my grades for the Philadelphia Flyers' 2013 offseason.
Buying Out Danny Briere
Man, this one really hurts—and should for a while. Daniel Briere was a good player for Philadelphia, and he really invested a lot in the city and community.
He was a great leader and veteran presence who really turned it up in the playoffs and was instrumental in the Flyers' success over his six seasons with the organization.
But from a hockey standpoint, buying him out was a phenomenal decision. At 35 years old, he wasn't producing like he used to and was owed $6.5 million over two more seasons.
Buying Out Ilya Bryzgalov
Just because this was expected and obvious doesn't mean it deserves a low grade. And just because the original mistake of signing Ilya Bryzgalov was a big one doesn't take away from the buyout itself.
The Russian goaltender was problematic off the ice, and his play on the ice was nowhere near worth the distractions. Getting rid of his $5.667 million cap hit for seven more seasons was a no-brainer.
Signing Ray Emery
I think this is a really great move for the Flyers, mostly because it is a low-risk, one-year deal for a guy who has played in Philadelphia before and is liked by the fanbase.
Ray Emery had a great season in Chicago and will push Steve Mason for playing time, which is exactly what you want out of a guy like him. There are really no major downsides to this signing.
Signing Vincent Lecavalier
After Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by Tampa Bay, he became the most coveted available free agent. The Flyers won the sweepstakes for the former captain's services and handed him a five-year deal worth $4.5 million.
The deal itself is what makes this such an important move. If he is a very good second-line center for the duration of his contract and helps the Flyers make multiple deep playoff runs, then it will be worth it.
But even though the contract is worth $2 million less than Briere's was, the fact that Lecavalier is already 33 years old has to bring about concerns that general manager Paul Holmgren is making the same mistake all over again.
Signing Mark Streit
A few years ago, Mark Streit was one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. But at 35 years old, it will be very difficult for him to justify getting paid $5.25 million over the next four seasons.
The Flyers defense did struggle getting the puck out of its own zone and pushing the play, but what it really needed was an improvement over a current player, which I'm not convinced Streit will be moving forward.
He is, like Lecavalier, a longstanding captain from his former team, which definitely has its merits. But I don't like the Streit deal mostly because of its size.
The Flyers gained a ton of flexibility with buying out Briere and Bryzgalov, but then pretty much turned around and used most of that extra room on Lecavalier and Streit.
While there is definitely a lot of pressure for them to produce in 2013-14, some even bigger questions will arise next spring, with Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros and both goalies' contracts expiring.
As of now, the Flyers seemed to get younger and better for cheaper with the Lecavalier-Briere swap, and are hoping that Streit can take over for Timonen if he retires after this year.
Holmgren has put a lot of pressure on himself this year. The talent is there, so the results need to follow.