There will be lots of debating about this untill our team kicks off the year in Pittsburgh, but for now I would like to summerize my debate that this offseason helps the Flyers in EVERY SINGLE WAY. I will go line by line, showing why this team should make no major structural changes for next year (excluding signing a Turco for 1.5 and getting rid of Boosh or something of that nature).
Line 1: Gagne/Richards/Carter: Two of these three guys were injured in the cup and there is no possible way this line cant improove. Gags is a year older but still only thirty. Richards is coming off a monster playoffs and continues to grow towards his prime. Carter is healthy again and has a full offseason to start working on his RW play. This line could produce a goal a game next year and I will be shocked if it doesnt.
Line 2: Am I really thinking there is any possibility that this line can play like it did in the playoffs? No. However, I think that it can compete with the top line when it comes to goal scoring and Briere with 25 and Lieno and Hartnell with 20 is not a stretch of the imagination by any means. Lieno came into his own, Briere back at center, and Harts not dealing with his personal problems anymore helps them out like in the playoffs. Due to that this line is an improovment over last year.
Line 3: JVR/Giroux/ OTHER GUY: This line is very interesting. Giroux gets a full season at center for the first time in his carrier and that will help his development tremendously. JVR gets to put on some weight and doesn't have to deal with making the team, as his spot is locked. I think that a huge improovment is in order for him, and a 20 goal season is highly likely. The third guy on this line is interesting. Based on what we have it could be Darrol Powe. However, like the playoffs, this line will be shuffled. Don't be suprised to see up to five or six other players on this line with these two guys. If the top line is having an off night, either of those three can be thrown in here to give this line the boost. Danny and Ville could be double shifted on this line. If Claude is getting beaten up a little bit, throw out Shelly to sit down in front of the net. And either Carcillo or Powe starts on this line, which is a very lateral move from Ash. With the improovment of the two kids alone, this line GREATLY improoves, and if we can find a permanant guy to fit here, (Stephin Legin, Andreas Nodl, Pat Maroon, or even if Carcillo or Powe develops into that guy), then this line is in business. Giroux could get 70 points this year, and I'd bet on it.
Line 4: OTHER GUY/Betts/Lappy: That OTHER GUY will not be Jody Shelly. Yes, he'll get shifts with them but he's not going to be the third checker on the checkign line. Powe or Carbomb or Nodl or someone will win that spot. They will split time on the third line with the top two guys who will double shift and take turns doing so. This line gets slightly older in Lappys respect, stays neutral with Betts (but his shoulder will be better so he's better in that sense), and gets better with the improovment of a young Carcillo or Powe. And it really gets better when Shelly gets to play and he gets his own paragraph to be elaborated on:
Jody Shelly will be an integral part to our sucsess. Too many times have I seen Ville Lieno, Claude Giroux, and Danny Briere got hit very hard with nothing happening to Colin White (Colin killed Claude every shot he got in the NJ series), Milan Lucic (he beat the shit out of everyone in that series), or as I've stated in other posts Buff or Eager. I am not saying that any of these more skilled players will drop them with Shelly (maybe Lucic or Eager), but the presense of having Shelly on the bench will let opposing teams know that if they hit one of our skill guys, then we will hit one of their (or multiple) skill guys, or they'll just get the shit beat out of them after they hit Claude. No enforser thought twice of hitting any of our guys with Cote or any middle weights on the bench, but they will now. You will notice the difference in the games now that we have him. On a side note, in our devision alone, there are now two of the best fighters in the league in Goddard (Pit) and Boogard (NY). That is 12 games against these guys with no one to stand up to them without Shelly.
Pairing 1: Pronger and Carle: One more year together only helps chemistry. They will be shut down. Carle is way better by expierence alone, and Pronger has more time in system.
Pairing 2: Kimmo and Meszaros/ Coburn: Kimmo is slightly worse due to age but better in the sense he’ll play less. Meszaros/ Coburn can both spell eachother, lower eachothers minutes and their competition will bring out the better of them. By default the 4th guy gets better, and Kimmo will be fine with one more age on him.
Pairing 3: O’Donnell and Meszaros/Coburn. Fact: This pairing could be a decent second pairing on most teams. Fact: Our third pairing would challenge most AHL pairings in talent level. Improovment there. Is there really much more to say about that?
Goalies: Leights gives up some weak goals. He’s got a slow five hole. He’s also been Philly’s best goalie in a while stat wise, and he’s got another year of confidence and an amazing track record in the post season. He saved our year last year and with the boulster of defense so far, Leights has to be better than last year.
*MarioD, what do you think of all of this, we havn't heard your FA opinion yet?