Philadelphia Flyers Defense: 2010-11 Season Preview

Alan BassSenior Writer ISeptember 25, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers handles the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)
Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

Departures: Danny Syvret

Arrivals: Matt Walker, Sean O’Donnell, Andrej Meszaros


Look who’s new in the neighborhood!

The big acquisition, with regards to salary and cap hit, is Andrej Meszaros. However, the big acquisition, with regards to likely effect on the team, is Sean O’Donnell.

Though Meszaros was a highly-touted prospect in 2005-06 when he posted 39 points and a plus-34 rating as a rookie on the Ottawa Senators, his stats decreased almost every year, reaching a career low of 11 assists last season with Tampa Bay and a minus-14 rating that many defensemen would be ashamed of.

O’Donnell, on the other hand, served as a well-respected member of the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins (in addition to brief stints with New Jersey, Minnesota and Phoenix). Known as a rugged, tough defensive defenseman, O’Donnell has not had a negative plus/minus rating since the 1996-97 season.

In fact, last year he posted 15 points and a plus-14 rating with Los Angeles—including 70 penalty minutes. With almost 1,700 career PIM, O’Donnell will intimidate opponents and help keep the puck out of the Flyers’ net.


Watch out for…

Ever since his first full season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Braydon Coburn’s points, goals and plus/minus have decreased significantly—from nine, 27, 36 and plus-17 in 2007-08 to five, 14, 19 and minus-6 last season.

But Coburn has incredible talent—the former eighth overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers was highly-touted in Atlanta, and the Alexei Zhitnik for Braydon Coburn trade that Paul Holmgren executed in 2007 was called one of the worst trades (for the Thrashers) in franchise history.

Look for Coburn to bounce back and have a solid season, playing on the second defense pairing with either Kimmo Timonen or Andrej Meszaros.

What’s the outlook?

The Flyers have two star players in Timonen and Chris Pronger, a future Hall of Famer in Pronger, two solid defensive players in O’Donnell and Matt Carle, and two wild cards in Meszaros and Coburn. They also have veteran Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis waiting in the wings as the team’s seventh and eighth defensemen.

The top-six of the Flyers is the best top-six in the league and has the potential to bring the Flyers back to the Stanley Cup final. If Coburn and Meszaros play to their full potential, there is no reason to think the Flyers won’t get even further than they did last year—dare I say bringing a particular silver trophy to the City of Brotherly Love?


Star power: A

Depth: A-

Toughness: A

Offense: B+