The Flyers enter 2011-2012 a completely different team. Gone are franchise cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, two-way wingers Ville Leino and Kris Versteeg, defensemen Sean O'Donnell and Dany Syvret and energy players Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe. In their place, the Flyers have added a number of younger, bigger, faster and more talented players. To their increasingly green forward corps, the team added some grey with the signings of veteran Max Talbot and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, both of whom should provide playmaking and leadership.
The team also filled what many have long believed to be its greatest need by signing consensus top-10 netminder Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year pact. Uber-talented youngster Sergei Bobrovsky will serve as Bryzgalov's backup, giving the Flyers one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL. For the first time in many years, there doesn't appear to be a goaltending question in Philadelphia.
Leading the revamped forward corps will be emerging superstar Claude Giroux, savvy veteran playmaker Danny Briere and emerging powerhouse James van Reimsdyk. If those three can stay healthy and continue to develop, Philadelphia's offense could be flat-out scary. The team currently has at least seven players capable of scoring 20-plus goals in 2011-2012, making the Flyers possibly the deepest offensive squad in the NHL. And that's before Brayden Schenn, possibly the most naturally talented player on the roster and best player outside of the NHL, is taken into account. To make matters better, the Flyers were able to draft highly touted center Sean Couturier, who many have compared to a better version of Jordan Staal. GM Paul Holmgren has already said he believes Couturier can make at instant impact at the NHL level.
On the defensive end, the Flyers boast one of the NHL's top blueline units with Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Brayden Coburn and Matt Carle. Newly signed Andreas Lilja figures to round out the group and log a majority of his minutes on the PK. Should he falter, the Flyers figure to have the promising but inconsistent Oskars Bartulis on the roster.
The biggest question mark for the Flyers, despite their new look, is still Chris Pronger. If he is able to return to form in 2011-2012, Philadelphia will be one of the league's most difficult teams to play against. If he is unable to play, the Flyers will still be a playoff team, but likely won't go very far.