In every dictionary in the world from now on there should be a picture of the Flyers’ logo beside the word "overreaction."
The team perceived it had an issue with young superstars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. They were both very talented players that were producing on the ice, but there were rumors of issues in the locker room and with the way the two guys carried themselves off the ice and out in the community.
To deal with the issues, the Flyers took a ridiculously bold step: They traded both players away.
Carter is now with Columbus and Richards with the Kings. They got reasonable value back for both guys, but it’s an unprecedented shakeup of what was a pretty good team. You can’t help but watch what happens with great interest—it’s one of the best storylines in the league this season.
Philadelphia Flyers offseason moves
In exchange for the two stars, they added Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and several draft picks. Of that group, Schenn is the clear prize. He is widely viewed as the best prospect in hockey, and he’s a center who could make it easy to forget about Richards and Carter with time.
They also added a very nice player with a draft pick from Columbus when they grabbed Sean Couturier in the first round. He’s a risk, but his potential is extremely high.
It was a good offseason even without those two deals and the aftermath. They lost some pieces, but none that was crucial, and they added a very nice player in Maxime Talbot and a top-level goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov. They also took one of the more intriguing risks of the offseason when they signed the ancient, but obviously talented Jaromir Jagr as he tries to make a return to the NHL after toiling in the KHL.
2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers NHL outlook
I really don’t know what to think of this team. I’m obviously not in the dressing room, so I don’t know what the deal was with Carter and Richards and if they really needed to go. I can’t help but feel that this was a bit extreme, though—especially considering the spotlight the moves put on the rest of the team. Chris Pronger will especially be the focus of added attention because it seems likely he was a big source of the issues with the two departed guys.
The best thing this team has going for it is the addition of Bryzgalov. Goaltending was a serious issue the last couple of years, and though they got lucky at times with strong play they never knew for sure that their goaltending was not going to be a concern. Now they have a guy who is a certified star, one who could instantly solve any keeper issues if he fits in and is comfortable. With the defense he will have in front of him he has the chance to really be special.
Two guys to keep an eye on are Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Giroux was the star of the 2010 playoffs and the leading scorer last year for the team. Van Riemsdyk was brilliant in the playoffs last year. These two players are going to have to be at the center of everything that happens with this team if they want to reach their potential.
2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers schedule
There is no shortage of exciting potential highlights on this schedule. They will be playing the outdoor game against the Rangers on Jan. 2. They have the first games against Richards and the Kings (Oct. 15) and Carter and the Blue Jackets (Nov. 5). Their games against Pittsburgh are almost always great, but the rivalry will have added heat this year because Talbot and Jagr will both be playing their former team—and because Jagr spurned the Pens to choose the Flyers this year.
Philadelphia Flyers NHL futures odds (from Bodog)
Oddsmakers like this squad. At 11/1 to win the Stanley Cup, they are the fifth choice in the league, and they are the third choice to win the East at 5/1.
2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers predictions
I feel very uneasy about this team. People are excited about them, and a lot of what they did makes sense. They are much better in the nets, they added talent elsewhere and they didn’t mess with a good defensive corps.
I just can’t help but feel uneasy about a team that has changed this much. I am sure the team could reach its full potential, but I am certainly not yet willing to bet it will at these prices. In fact, I reserve the right to withhold judgment on this team entirely until we have seen the Flyers play 20 games and we better understand what they look like and who they are.
At this point, I don’t think that they know who they are, so it’s certainly reasonable that we don’t either.
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