Philadelphia Flyers' 2009-10 Season Preview

Fraser ElliottCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 06: (EDITORS NOTE: THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY ALTERED) Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers poses for a portrait after his first press conference as a Philadelphia Flyer at Flyer's Skate Zone on July 6, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I will be previewing all 30 NHL clubs. I will be looking at their available salary cap room, the additions and deletions from the 2008-09 rosters, and where I think they will stack up in their division and conference for the 2009-10 campaign. 

Let's get a move on with the Philadelphia Flyers, which play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

This maybe the biggest, nastiest version of the Broad Street Bullies since back in the 1970s, when the Flyers had players like Andre Dupont, Dave Schultz, Robert Kelly, and Gary Dornhoefer.  This year’s version of the Philadelphia Flyers may give the glory days a run for their money.

With the addition of Chris Pronger and Ian Laperriere, the Flyers have added 3,251 career penalty minutes during their combined 29 full seasons in the NHL.  When you combine these two players with Daniel Carcillo, Aaron Asham, and Riley Cote, it gives the Flyers one of the nastiest line-ups in the entire NHL.

The Flyers have a highly skilled group of forwards as well.  Just like the days of Clarke, Barber and MacLeish, the Flyers are led this season by Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and Simon Gagne.

Add to that forwards like Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, and youngster Claude Giroux, this seasons version of the Flyers maybe even more talented than the Stanley Cup glory days of 1974 and 1975, with one noticeable exception.

Neither Ray Emery nor Brian Boucher is anywhere near as talented as Hall of Famer, Bernie Parent.  Goaltending has been a huge question mark in Philadelphia since the days of Ron Hextall and before him Pelle Lindbergh, back in the mid to late ‘80s and early '90s. 

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This team has the offensive talent and defensive group to be considered a serious Stanley Cup contender in 2009-10 but do they have the goaltending to get a championship for the first time in 35 years. 

Let’s take a look at what moves G.M. Holmgren was able to make and see which players will be part of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009-10.

Significant Additions

The unrestricted free agents that have been signed by the Flyers are as follows: Brian Boucher (San Jose), Ray Emery (Russia), and Ian Laperriere (Colorado).  Chris Pronger was acquired, along with Ryan Dingle from the Anaheim Ducks for Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul, and draft picks.

Significant Deletions

The unrestricted free agents that have moved on from Philadelphia are: Andrew Alberts (Carolina), Martin Biron (N.Y. Islanders), Derian Hatcher (Retirement), Mike Knuble (Washington), and Antero Nittymaki (Tampa Bay).

There are three former Flyer Players that have yet to sign deals with another franchise.  They are: Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Lasse Kukkonen, and Nate Raduns.

The Projected 2009–10 Philadelphia Flyers roster

It is also not uncommon for the Flyers to have between 20 and 23 players on their roster for any given game.

The Flyers currently have 17 players under one-way contracts; nine forwards, six defensemen, and two goaltenders. The five players that are most likely to fill out the roster, that are on two-way contracts are as follows.  It would most like be four forwards and a defenseman.  These players are;

Andreas Nodl is a 22-year-old Austrian right winger that split the season last year between the Flyers and the Phantoms.  He appeared in 38 games, scoring one goal and adding three assists in the NHL last season.

Claude Giroux is a 21-year-old native of Ontario.  The right winger split last season between the Flyers and the Phantoms.  He has appeared in 44 games, scoring nine goals and adding 18 assists over the past two seasons in the NHL.

Darroll Powe is a 24-year-old native of Saskatchewan.  The centerman split last season between the Flyers and the Phantoms.  He appeared in 60 games, scoring six goals and adding five assists in the NHL last season.

Lukas Kaspar is a 23-year-old native of the Czech Republic.  The left winger has spent the last four seasons in the San Jose Sharks organization.  Thus far in his NHL career, Kaspar has appeared in 16 games, scoring two goals and adding two assists.

Ryan Parent is a 22-year-old native of Saskatchewan.  The defenseman has been a professional for the last three seasons, splitting each season between the Flyers and the Phantoms.  During his career, he has appeared in 54 games, tallying four assists in the NHL.

With these 22 players, the Flyers’ Salary Cap would sit at $56.6 million.  If you take the bonuses off of the calculation, it would only give the Flyers approximately $372,000 in cap space. 

Now let’s take a look at some of the Flyers’ top prospects that will be looking to impress G.M. Holmgren and Head Coach John Stevens. 

Claude Giroux

The Flyers’ first round pick (22nd overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is a native of Hearst, Ontario.  He played his junior hockey in the QMJHL with the Gatineau Olympiques, where he played for three seasons.

According to hockeysfuture.com, “Giroux’s greatest talent is his playmaking ability. Boasting excellent hands and great vision, the diminutive winger is able to use his quick skating ability to turn something out of nothing.

"Giroux, despite his size disadvantage, does not mind getting his nose dirty, and will stand in to take a hit in order to make a play. He does get bodied often, but the shifty winger is agile enough to avoid checks on a regular basis.

“Giroux’s size may have been a hindrance in the old NHL; however, he appears to be a prototypical product for the new NHL, with blazing speed and dynamite skill. He has the potential to be a first-line winger.”

He will likely start the season in the NHL, with the Flyers.

James Van Riemsdyk

This 20-year-old native of Middletown, New Jersey was the Flyers’ first round pick (second overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  He spent the last two seasons at the University of New Hampshire before leaving school and joining the Phantoms last season.

Van Riemsdyk is a big powerful winger who brings good speed to the table.  He is a very complete talent.  His salary cap hit ($1,654,166) may make it very difficult for him to see significant playing time at the NHL level.  He should get a look but it maybe during games when the Flyers are carrying only 20 players or as an injury call-up.

Marc-Andre Bourdon

This 20-year-old native of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec was the Flyers’ third round pick (67th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.  He has spent the last three seasons in the QMJHL.  Last season was split between Rouyn-Noranda and Rimouski.

According to NHL.com, Bourdon had a breakout offensive season, finishing third among QMJHL defensemen with 18 goals and fourth with 60 points, and also showed a willingness to throw around his 6-foot, 206-pound frame.

According to Flyers Director of Player Development Don Luce, "He showed us he's a much more competitive, physical player than I thought.  He's shown he has a physical side to his game and he likes to compete."

Bourdon likely will start the season in the AHL.

Kevin Marshall

This 20-year-old native of Boucherville, Quebec was the Flyers’ second round pick (41st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  He has spent the last three seasons in the QMJHL.  Last season was split between Lewiston and Quebec.

According to hockeysfuture.com, “Marshall is regarded as a hard-working, stay-at-home defenseman who plays with a physical edge. He skates very well; he has excellent balance and moves the puck efficiently.”

Marshall likely will start the season in the AHL.

Patrick Maroon

This 21-year-old native of St. Louis, Missouri was the Flyers’ sixth round pick (161st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  He spent the entire season last year in the AHL, with the Phantoms. 

According to hockeysfuture.com, “Maroon possesses a strong combination of natural size, strength and skill. He also possesses considerable hockey sense. Maroon has had conditioning issues in the past, but has worked hard to get on the right track.”

Maroon likely will start the season in the AHL.

Recap of 2008-09

The Flyers finished third in the Atlantic Division and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-27-11, good for 99 points. 

The Flyers had six players that broke the 20-goal plateau and they had seven players finished with double digit goals.  Last season the Flyers were lead by Jeff Carter (46 goals and 84 points) and Mike Richards (50 assists and 80 points).

The Flyers offense was fifth in the NHL with 264 goals for and defensively, the Flyers were 16th in the NHL giving up 238 goals.

The Flyers powerplay was sixth in the NHL last season, clicking at 22.5 percent and they were also sixth in killing penalties (83.0 percent).

Outlook for 2009-10

The rivals of the Flyers in the Atlantic Division are going to have their hands full with the Broad Street Bullies this season.  When the others come into Philly they are going to know they have been in a fight but their weakness is going to be what causes them the Atlantic Division crown. 

There is only one team that can stand up to the Flyers, in the skill department and that is the Penguins.  The Penguins have three things the Flyers do not have; Crosby, Malkin and Fleury.  The division may come down to the last day of the season, April 11, when the Flyers meet the Rangers and the Penguins meet the Islanders.

I foresee a second place finish in the highly competitive Atlantic Division and I think they will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. 

On Sept 10, I will be reviewing Phoenix Coyotes as I continue to preview each of the 30 NHL clubs. Look for my four-part article on how I would improve the NHL and my other previously published articles on bleacherreport.com.


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