I know we have all summer to mull over this kind of stuff but the sooner we get to preparing for next season the sooner the sting of this loss fades.
Here is what I think the Flyers need to do with some of their "bubble" players.
Antero Nittymaki-let him walk. he has talent but he cant put it together for long stretches, everytime he's handed the #1 job he coughs it back up.
Marty Biron- I say keep him. sure hes not "great" but the best a goaltender can do for a team is put you in position to win, and Biron does that. hes shown he has the capability to rise to the occasion and play like a star when he needs to.
(in the long term I think the Flyers should just draft a young goaltender and develop him through their system. Biron is good enough to hold down the fort till he's ready)
Joffrey Lupol- This is the most obvious one being as he was trade bait all season long, but Lupol is likely gone after this season. he's a good player but he doesnt do anything thats irreplacable. he makes way to much money, it just isnt gonna work out for Lupol.
Matt Carle- I was really dissapointed with Matt Carle all season long but he was great in the playoffs. Still, he's due to make a lot of money next year and like Lupol, he isnt anything special. he also has some trade value being as hes only 24.
Mike Knuble- THis is going to be a tough decision. if he offers to take a huge paycut and finish his career here im all for bringing him back, he's our only true power forward and he does a lot for the team. but if another team wants to throw him a lot of cash we may have to let him walk. the reality is he doesnt have too many years left and in a salary cap league you need to constantly try and get younger.
Randy Jones-Just get rid of him. I know it won;t happen, but a guy can dream.
John Stevens-I could go back and forth on this one but in the end I say keep Stevens for atleast one more year. I do believe that he deserves the blame for much of the things that plagued and ultimately doomed the Flyers this year (discipline, long lapses in games, overall inconsistency) but he has also effectively weathered the storm through a lot of adversity the last two seasons. The Flyers are still very young and inexperienced, as is John Stevens. The hope is that John Stevens will really blossom into a winning coach and the Flyers learn how to be a contender. I give him one more year, but keep him on a short leash.
Overall I think the Focus of the Off-season should be defense. Our Defenseman are all cut from the Ryan Parent mold-small, quick, one on one defenders who aren't very good with the puck and aren't overly big. I love Parent but we need some more versatility back there. We need more of a physical presence, and we need another puck mover. Getting the puck out of our zone cleanly was the Flyers biggest problem this season. Jay Bouwmeester is a free agent and I think the Flyers should go hard after him. they may have to get into a bidding war with teams like Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto but I have the confidence that Homer can make it work. If not Bouwmeester, Chris Pronger may be available for trade and Tomas Kaberle is a free agent. we need to upgrade our defense badly.
I also think we need some more veteran leadership/grit on the wings. Look at how much having a proven veteran scorer like Bill Guerin helped the penguins.
Like I said above, if we dont trade our 1st round pick we should use it on a goaltender. Lets find a guy we really like, and properly bring him up through the system. Its time we stop trying to find a quick fix with our goaltenders.
the loss stings but soon enough our boys will be back on the ice.