Philadelphia Flyers: The 6 Most Indispensable Players on Flyers Roster
With a recent roster shakeup, the Philadelphia Flyers have moved three of their top five point-scorers from the 2010-2011 season.
Among the group of unloaded players were captain Mike Richards and leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter.
Carter carried a split following in Philadelphia, and rumors of his exact trade had developed a week prior to the deal with Columbus. This was one season after a trade sending him to Boston for Tim Thomas was in the works.
Richards was the captain of the team, signed for more than a decade, and thought to be an indispensable player.
According to general manager Paul Holmgren, he was not.
Which players currently on the Philadelphia Flyers roster exhibit unrivaled value which makes them indispensable, not trade-able assets?
The Philadelphia Flyers have a goaltending problem.
Since Vezina-winning Ron Hextall and the 1997 team failed to bring home a Stanley Cup, the Flyers have struggled to find an adequate goaltender.
The most promising netminder was Roman Cechmanek, who was among the league leaders in save percentage during his seasons in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Cechmanek was inconsistent in the playoffs, and would mark just another name on the long list of disappointing Flyers goalies.
The organization went through Cechmanek, Robert Esche, Jeff Hackett, Antero Niittymaki and Martin Biron prior to the 2009-2010 season.
The year the team went to the finals, it dressed six different goaltenders due to injuries. Ray Emery started the season before suffering an abdominal injury which was later diagnosed as career-threatening avascular necrosis.
Brian Boucher took over in November and December before suffering an injury himself.
From there, the Flyers went with Michael Leighton, who was sufficient in net until suffering a high ankle sprain in March.
Leighton would return in the playoffs when Boucher became injured again in the second round series against the Boston Bruins.
After recording three shutouts in the Eastern Conference Finals, Leighton faltered in the Stanley Cup series. Pulled twice in six games, recording an abysmal .875 save percentage, Leighton forever recorded his place in history by giving up an incredibly soft Stanley Cup-winning goal to Patrick Kane.
This latest season, the goaltending fiasco completely imploded on the Flyers, as Boucher, Leighton, and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky were all pulled during the playoffs.
Addressing the need for a legitimate No. 1 goaltender, Paul Holmgren acquired a former Vezina Trophy nominee.
Ilya Bryzgalov has yet to play in a Flyers uniform, but being the first legitimate starting goaltender in more than a decade of Philadelphia hockey contributes extreme value to the organization.
Perhaps it is not Jody Shelley himself that is indispensable, but the role he plays is.
NHL teams understand the need to protect players. This is why during the first offseason after Dan Carcillo pounded Marian Gaborik down to the ice, the New York Rangers agreed to pay Derek Boogaard $1.65 million per season.
The same day Boogaard inked his contract with the Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers addressed their own lack of an enforcer.
During the 2009-2010 season the toughest team in the league had a problem with Toronto Maple Leafs' tough guy Colton Orr.
An organization which prides itself on being able to protect the players and stand up for teammates does not look the other way to events such as that.
Jody Shelley was signed as a protective force for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is highly capable of taking care of problems such as Orr.
Though he will not score goals and points, Shelley is a very valuable part of the Flyers organization.
During a game against the Ottawa Senators this past season, Claude Giroux checked Jesse Winchester. Believing the hit to be a little dirty, Chris Neil went after Giroux, pushing him from behind and delivering two punches.
The video featured in this slide shows what happens to a player when he goes after the Flyers' leading scorer.
James van Riemsdyk
The Philadelphia Flyers have missed the playoffs just once since 1994. In 2007, they finished with not only the worst record in the NHL, but in franchise history.
After losing the draft lottery the Flyers dropped to the second overall pick in the draft, selecting New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk.
After finishing his time at the University of New Hampshire, "JVR" entered the NHL and produced 35 points as a 20-year-old in the 2009-2010 season.
The power forward continued to make progress throughout this past season, and showed signs of his future during the playoffs.
JVR scored in five consecutive playoff games, a streak that culminated with a two-goal, dominating performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins.
The 21 year-old was skating right through the Boston defense, and was unstoppable in his efforts to reach the net.
Set the video to 14:00 and there are two of van Riemsdyk's plays. JVR was double-shifted for seemingly the entire third period. At 14:30 of the clip, remnants of the crowd chanting his name can be heard.
A hat trick was seemingly imminent for the second-year player who finished the game with 28:18 of ice team, leading all forwards. Though he was unable to win the game for the Flyers, his display that night was eye-opening and extremely promising.
The upcoming season should be a breakout year for James van Riemsdyk, an essential player to the future of this franchise.
Anyone checking out regular season statistics might be curious as to why Danny Briere is the Flyers' highest cap hit, with an average salary of $6.5 million per season.
Briere has not come close to the 95 points he produced in the season before the Flyers offered him the large contract, but has earned that money when players are needed the most.
During the regular season, Briere averages 0.8 points per game, or about 65 per season.
During the playoffs, Briere is a point-per-game performer, with 96 points in 97 career playoff games.
He led all NHL players in 2010 with 30 playoff points.
Natural leaders and playoff performers are players worth having at any price. Briere is both.
Briere served as captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and wears an "A" in Philadelphia.
When the Flyers were one period away from elimination in Game 6 of the opening round this year, it was Briere (not captain Mike Richards or coach Peter Laviolette) who stood up, said a few words, and got the team going.
In this video, Briere puts the team on his back, flies through Boston's defense, and ties the playoff game in its waning minutes.
Holmgren noted the emergence of James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux as part of the reasoning behind trading Richards and Carter.
These young players have shown the ability to develop into two of the NHL's top stars. Giroux was third on the team in scoring in the 2010 playoffs, putting up 21 points in 22 games at the young age of 22.
Giroux was an essential part of that dramatic season's end.
In the shootout against the New York Rangers on the final day of the season, the Flyers shot first.
Going into the third frame of the shootout, it was tied until Giroux put a wrist shot through Henrik Lundqvist's five-hole. When Brian Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen on the next attempt, the Flyers clinched a playoff spot.
Later in the playoffs, with the Flyers down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals and in overtime, Giroux's goal made it a series at 2-1. Had the Blackhawks scored, it would have been a 3-0 hole for Philadelphia. Though the Flyers would eventually lose the series, the goal was huge at the time.
The video featured in this slide shows Giroux coming through in another clutch situation. Just two minutes away from completing one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, the Flyers simply needed to kill time.
Giroux single-handedly took 24 seconds off the clock despite being covered by three Bruins.
During this past season, Giroux proved that he was no fluke, leading the Flyers in points with 76. Giroux also developed into an efficient defensive player by earning his spot on the Flyers' penalty kill, and contributing three shorthanded goals.
Giroux's development as a complete player was evident when he began running over the opposition despite his small 5'11", 175-pound frame.
Giroux can score goals, set up plays, deke as well as anyone, plays well defensively, plays physical, and comes through when it matters the most.
At such a young age, these abilities are only going to improve.
When the Philadelphia Flyers traded for Chris Pronger during the 2009 NHL entry draft, the team acquired a former Hart and Norris Trophy winner.
Pronger was a former captain, Stanley Cup champion, and is one of the greatest defenseman of all-time.
Despite being 36 years old, Pronger's ability to shut down the opposition matches any defenseman in the league. The 6'6" defender is also an excellent offensive contributor, tallying nearly 700 points in his career so far.
While Pronger's on-ice play is enough for any general manager to covet, his off-ice leadership is difficult to match.
When Pronger left St. Louis and joined Edmonton for the 2005-2006 season, the Oilers went from being a non-playoff team to a Stanley Cup finalist.
The next season, Pronger went from Edmonton to Anaheim. The Ducks improved from losing the conference finals to winning the Stanley Cup.
In 2010, Pronger joined the Flyers, a team that had been eliminated in the first round the previous season, but went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with Pronger.
Three different teams went to the Stanley Cup finals during Pronger's first season with that franchise. Either this is a very strange coincidence, or evidence that that the future Hall of Famer's leadership is astounding and irreplaceable.