What the Philadelphia Flyers Should Wish for This Christmas
Kids aren't the only ones sending letters to Santa with a wish list at this time of year; NHL teams have Christmas wish lists, too. Here is a look at what the Philadelphia Flyers should be asking for at this very special time of year.
Keep in mind that this is what the Flyers SHOULD be asking for, but the current management may not be thinking the same way. But that doesn't mean these items shouldn't be on the Flyers' wish list; it just means that general manager Paul Holmgren and Co. may see things differently.
Feel free to chime in and comment on any item on this list or to mention something you feel belongs on here that did not make the list.
Wishing all of our readers the very best at this holiday season.
6. Continued Mediocrity in the Metropolitan Division
Entering play on December 23, only two teams out of the eight in the Metropolitan Division had records above .500.
The fact that the Flyers got off a 1-7-0 start this season but were able to get back into the thick of the playoff hunt by Christmas is partially due to improved play by the Flyers and partially because the rest of the division has been struggling so badly this season.
With the exception of the Pittsburgh Penguins, no team in the division has been consistent, and none of them have really lived up to expectations.
The Flyers certainly hope that this trend continues for the rest of the season as it drastically improves their chances of making the playoffs.
5. Reinforcements on Defense
The Flyers have eight defensemen on their roster right now, but they still lack an explosive, elite, puck-moving defenseman and a minute-munching stay-at-home defenseman to lead their defense.
Obviously, future Hall of Famers like Chris Pronger don't come along very often, but a poor man's Pronger would make the Flyers a tougher team to play against and has to be on the Flyers' wish list.
Mark Streit has been a bit of a disappointment since the Flyers acquired him this summer and is better suited as a second-unit offensive-minded defenseman.
The types of players described here would be tough to get, but they would help make the Flyers a bona fide playoff contender rather than a team struggling to play .500 hockey.
4. A Healthy Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie
The Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier as a free agent this summer to add offensive firepower to the club's lineup.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain has missed 13 of the team's first 36 games due to an assortment of injuries.
When he's played, Lecavalier has been a valuable contributor. He has scored nine goals and 15 points in 23 contests. The goal total ties him for second on the team.
But Downie has suffered an assortment of injuries since the October 31 trade and has missed four games and counting due to a concussion and an upper-body injury.
Keeping these and other key players healthy would help the Flyers make a successful playoff run in the second half of the season.
3. The Early-Season Version of Steve Mason
When the Flyers were struggling to score goals early in the season, goalie Steve Mason kept them in games with his strong play.
But in the month of December, Mason has come back to earth a bit. Entering the December 23 game against the Minnesota Wild, the Flyers' starter has very average numbers in December: an .890 save percentage and a 3.23 GAA.
Few goalies remain unbeatable throughout an entire season without hitting a rough patch, but the Flyers certainly would prefer that Mason return to his early-season form that helped carry the team back to a .500 record.
2. Someone to Take Scott Hartnell off Their Hands
According to CapGeek.com, Scott Hartnell has the highest cap hit of any forward on the Flyers' roster this season at $4.75 million.
Unfortunately for both the Flyers and Hartnell, the Regina native is not producing at anywhere near his cap level. This season, Hartnell has just six goals and 15 points in 33 games, only slightly better than last season's poor showing of eight goals and 12 points in 32 contests.
Perhaps it's time for a change of scenery for Hartnell, but that won't be easy. He's on the wrong side of 30 and hasn't been productive now for two seasons. He also has five years left on his present contract after this season. While $4.75 million is not considered a huge cap hit these days, it isn't good value for a player of rising age and diminishing production.
Hartnell also has a no-move clause in his contract, so he would have to agree to waive it for any trade to go through.
Although it's unlikely, the Flyers and Hartnell would both probably benefit from a trade at some point before the trade deadline that would lessen the Flyers' glut of forwards and get them something else in return.
1. More Team Speed
One area the Flyers need improvement in is team speed. It's not limited to any particular position; the team really needs some more speed throughout the lineup.
We recently witnessed the effect that Michael Raffl had when he was inserted into the team's top line while Lecavalier was injured. The biggest element that Raffl added to the top unit was speed.
Another speedy player or two at forward and on defense would certainly make the Flyers a more dangerous team to play against. It belongs on the club's wish list this Christmas.