"Eyes on the Enemy" will be a continuing bi-annual series on the NY Rangers blog giving fans updates on the Rangers closest rivals. Part 1 of the offseason version of 'EotE' will focus on the Philadelphia Flyers. All contract figures listed below courtesy of capgeek.com
Where exactly do I begin with the Flyers? The team roared out to a 2-6 start before hovering around the .500 mark for the remaining 40 games of the lockout shortened season to finish 23-22-3, six points out of the final playoff spot.
Last summer, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren committed to Ilya Bryzgalov as his goaltender over Sergei Bobrovsky and traded the younger Russian to Columbus for
three two draft picks. (A 2013 fourth round pick was later sent to LA for Simon Gagne.)
By the way, what ever happened to Bobrovsky after being traded to one of hockey's black holes?
Fast forward to this summer. Ilya Bryzgalov became the most expensive buyout in NHL history and will receive 23 million dollars over the next 14 seasons from the Flyers. Although Bryz held this honor for mere hours before the Lightning bought out Vincent Lecavalier (14 years, $32 million) who naturally signed a 5 year, $22 million contract with the Flyers a week later.
The Lecavalier signing was the second egregiously awful signing Paul Holmgren put together. Before the free agency opened, the Flyers acquired the rights of unsigned Islander captain Mark Streit and chose to give the defenseman, who turns 36 in the middle of this upcoming season, a 4 year, $21 million contract in an effort to shore up a leaky blueline.
The Flyers rounded out their UFA signings giving goaltender Ray Emery a 1 year, $1.65 million contract.
The Flyers drafted 6' 6" defenseman Samuel Morin with the 11th overall pick in the draft. Very similar as to when McIlrath was drafted by the Rangers, he was regarded as a bit of a reach by some prospect evaluators. His scouting report lists him as "very raw," without much of an offensive game. Only differences were that McIlrath wasn't regarded as a great skater when he was drafted compared to Morin in terms of their size, but McIlrath is more of an imposing force compared to the game Morin plays.
On the Farm:
There is very little in the way of higher end prospects in the Flyers pipeline, who were ranked dead last in Hockey's Future 2013 spring edition rankings. There are a few names that will be worth watching in the next year or so. Scott Laughton, the Flyers 2012 first round pick, who has been better than a point per game player for the Oshawa Generals over the past two seasons. He was un-impressive last season in his five game trial at the NHL level before being sent back down to juniors where he has one more season of eligibility.
Goalie and NJ product Anthony Stolarz, signed his entry level contract back in March. He started the '12-'13 season in the NCAA ranks before jumping to the London Knights of the OHL. Stolarz wound up in a starting role and was stellar between the pipes going 26-8-2 combined over the final month of the season and into the playoffs, leading the Knights into the OHL Finals before faltering. Still, Stolarz is widely considered to be the starting goaltender for Team USA at the U-20 World Junior Championships in December.
Followers of the World Juniors will be familiar with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere who turned in a fantastic performance for Team USA last winter. Gostisbehere was credited with a goal and an assist in the tournament and was paired with Jets 2012 1st round draft pick Jacob Trouba. He will return to Union College for his junior season this fall.
In one word, messy. The Flyers have doled out a ton of money to solve their woes along the blueline and in net only to be underwhelming in both areas. The Flyers top 7 defensemen (including a semi-retired Pronger) all have cap hits north of 3 million and will make a combined $35.85 million in salary this upcoming season, which at quick glance is among, if not the highest in the NHL. The Flyers did have some money to toy with this offseason after the Bryzgalov and Briere buyouts which was the reason they were as active as they have been. After this season though will be a different story as the Flyers have $51 million in cap space committed to just 14 players. Giroux's 8.275 cap hit from his recently signed extension kicks in and the Flyers also need to re-sign Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. If things go as south as they did this season, there could be more than a trade or two in Philadelphia at the next deadline.
Odds and Ends:
Coach Peter Laviolette should be the odds on favorite as the first coach in the NHL to be fired at some point during the season. There was some talk last season about Laviolette losing the room over the Bryz situation and that being reflected in the enormous amount of penalties and undisciplined play that plagued the roster.
There are also rumors floating around the organization that Paul Holmgren's job could be in jeopardy as well. Not only did Flyers owner Ed Snider have to address his GM's job after the Flyers' season ended, it was exacerbated by the July 15th hiring of Ron Hextall from the Los Angeles Kings to become the Flyers new Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Ops. Some in the Philly media have already pegged Hextall as the next GM in waiting in anticipation of Holmgren being relieved of his duties.
Next season will be an interesting one for our rivals down I-95. The Flyers have invested quite a bit this summer into making next season a much better success than the lockout shortened season was. The Flyers have made themselves into a significantly older team with the Streit and Lecavalier acquisitions, but once again are attempting to position themselves for another deep run for the Cup. Time will tell if the Bryzgalov buyout was the correct move or if other more significant moves, in particular behind the bench or upstairs in the front office need to be made.
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The Flyers and Devils will be battling it out for the rights to wear the name "Cellar Dweller" this season - even if we go nowhere with our undersized, undertalented, no-contact crew (waiting for the youngsters to grow and to buy out Richey so we can build a competitive team) it will be gratifying watching these teams flounder - LGR
No pressure playing for a team in Columbus.......that does make a difference. Don't get me wrong I love the fact that he Flyers are kicking themselves, but c'mon......Bob had no pressure winning in Columbus.
WTF is Bobrovsky wearing? kinda reminds me of one of those fancy lads.
I love these articles. it's good to have such an extensive break down. these links should be included in the game post when he play division rivals. also, it's so good to see how awful the flyers look. they are the closest team to where I live other than the rangers and devils, but they are my most hated team. to me they are the team that no matter what happens to the rangers as long as the flyers do worse I'm ecstatic. I hope they bite the big one this year. lol at the bobrosky move.
How are the Rangers undersized or under talented? They have a couple smallish forwards but that don't make the team small as a whole. Kreider is 230. Boyle is 255. Nash is 225. Pyatt is 230. Callahan continues to improve offensively. He put up 16 goals and 31 points in 45 games. Stepan also improves each year. In a full season, his 44 points would've been 75. That's enough to lead 1/2 the teams in the NHL. They have Nash of course and they added some depth on the bottom 6. Pouliot is only 26 and has the ability to score 20 in a season. I just don't understand how you could be disapointed with the lineup right now as it is. They have the best goaltender in the NHL and always have a chance with Hank on Broadway.
@Easy_Kreider i'll sign up to that newsletter.
@gravey94 Thanks, covering the Devils next week. I have something slightly different planned for them. Announcement soon.
@NYRFan_RF1 Zucc, Brassard, Cally, Hags, Step, MDZ, Dorsett.......
On paper you're probably right that we average out to close to the NHL average of 205 but our big guys play small - perhaps I could have more cleverly worded my thoughts to "modestly talented" rather than undertalented. Boston is also modestly talented and they came within 2 games of the prize (because they are much more physical and bigger with a great goalie). We do have talented guys of course but when you look at other teams we are not stacked. The bigger problem is toughness and physical play - it's a problem when 2 of your top 3 hitters are 2 of the smallest players on the team. Yes, hank is an equalizer for sure and I'm always a Rangers fan no matter what. There are always variables like what if Krieds has a break out year, or what if Lindberg makes the show and shines so in spite of my playing a bit of devil's advocate here we could still have an interesting season. I'd love to be proven wrong. LGR
Thanks for all this info but Are you saying we will be less physical under AV? Dude, you're scaring me.
Hey, by no means do I think this Ranger team is perfect of flawless. I also think that if its physicality you think is lacking, then the change to AV behind the bench is not the move for this team. Every time his Vancouver team was eliminated from the playoffs, it was by a tougher team and usually not by a more talented team. I hope the team toughness that was drilled into these players under Torts. I think this team is basically the same as last year with a little more skill spread out to give them at least one more line capable of scoring a goal. Their success will depend greatly on 3 things going right. 1-those depth players Moore and Pouliot in paticular have to make a impact. The bottom 2 line players for Boston Paille-Thornton-Peverley-Cambell-Kelly all had between 3 and 6 goals on the season with the exception of Paille who had 10. That's not a lot to ask for from those guys. In a full season that's 7-10 goals and 20 points a piece. 2- The players have to pick up AV's new system quickly and almost seemlessly. He likes to cycle the puck in the corners till the defense begins to Yawn and falls asleep. They will hold the puck more in the offensive zone but its all things they've done under Torts just not as much. The players have to learn a different system when they don't have the puck as they'll be standing around more rather than chasing the puck carrier. 3- The last thing is the prospects. They need to get a top 6 winger from out of the group of kids ready to make the show this season. I think Kreider is all but a lock on the left side but the RW side is a little thin. Nash may need to play on the right side but especially while Cally is out, they need a kid to make an impact. I think they grabbed the kid Kristo for this reason. He's a high motor type player. Like Hagelin with a little more pop to his shot. He shoots while skating 100 mph without losing a step. They need someone to fill that side all year long from a top 9 role. Aside from that, as always health is a priority. They're better equipped now if a defenseman or forward goes down for a couple weeks but they'd need to stay relatively healthy most of the year but that goes without saying really. It'd be nice to see Kreider have a Calder type season and breakout but then Shroeder in Vancouver has to have a big year for the Canucks too so there's no I told you so from either city.