The Flyers are probably the most talked about team in the N.H.L. right now. They are supposedly trying to make a major move to free up cap space, and the sign Marty Turco. But lets stop and look at the Flyers current roster for a second, and I include Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe. Could this team go into next season and be a serious competitor and battle other teams like Washington and Pittsburgh at the top of the Eastern Conference? Letstake a look at all the positions on the Flyers' roster.
The Flyers have one of the best forward cores in the leagues, with Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Danny Briere leading the way. Then they have very good depth, with the likes of Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux. The Flyers have a very good fourth line providing great checking and great defensive play. Blair Betts, Ian Laperriere, Darroll Powe and even Dan Carcillo from time to time all make up this great fourth unit. The only weak spot up front for the Flyers is the right-wing position. As of now, the Flyers only have one natural right-wing (Laperriere, although Darroll Powe can play anywhere) in their line-up, although expect one of the centers (probably Carter or Giroux) to move to the right at the start of the season.
Well this is one spot on the roster that I (and probably most) have no complaints about what so ever. Chris Pronger amd Kimmo Timonen are the two main gears that drives the engine of the Flyers' defense. Then you have Matt Carle who has evolved into a great defenseman by playing with Pronger, and Coburn who has been solid his whole career as a Flyer (even though he had a so/so season). Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnel provide great depth for the Flyers. Meszaros is capable of playing top four minutes, and O'Donnell is a solid third-pairing defenseman. Oskars Bartulis is also a good up and coming defenseman. Expect to see him to challenge O'Donnell for a roster spot, as he proved (if playing with the right partner) that he can be a good third pairing guy.
The goaltending as of right now is the same it has been over the past decade: questionable (if not worse). Michael Leighton proved he can be a trust worthy back-up, but a questionable starter. Brian Boucher is a descent defenseman, who can steal a game for you once in a while, but is in no way a starter. So would it be wise for the Flyers to put their goaltending into the hands of a great back-up and a descent back-up? My opinion, probably not the smartest idea in the world.
Technically, the Flyers could in fact go with this roster come October if they chose to. They have a good forward core, an exceptional defense but a question mark in net. The Flyers' defense could probably play well enough to cover up some talent missing in net during the during the regular season. Although even with the great defense the Flyers have, I still believe come playoff time the mediocre goaltending would be exposed, especially against like the Penguins and the Capitals. The Flyers would also not get the best out of which ever winger was playing center. Danny Briere is a perfect example. Briere was a changed man in the playoffs when he was moved back to center, he almost broke Wayne Gretzky's record for christ sake. So the postion does make a difference. With this team, I'd predict a fifth or sixth place finish for the Flyers in the regular season, and a second round exit. For most teams that's a solid season, but the Flyers are tired of just "solid seasons", they want to win. So my final statement is this: Go with this roster and expect a second round exit, with probably no chance of winning the cup or competing against elite teams.
What are your thoughts?