The Flyers spend a lot of time on the powerplay, moreso than any other team in the league last year. They were pretty good, scoring at a 19.7% clip, good for sixth in the league. Hartnell was tied for the league lead last year with 16 and Wayne Simmonds had 11. The top unit consisted of Claude Giroux quarterbacking from the left half-wall (left if you're looking at the net) with Hartnell and Simmonds attacking the net, Timonen on top of the umbrella and Voracek on the right half-wall. Matt Carle was atop the umbrella on the second unit with Briere on the left wall and combonations of Jagr, JVR, Braydon Schenn, and Matt Read filling out the rest of the unit. So we lost JVR and Jagr, but Couturier and Schenn will get that powerplay time. As for Carle's time, that will go to Weber---assuming we get him of course. The way I see it, our powerplay this coming year can look any one of three ways, check it out after the jump.
Option 1: The Flyers PP was very good, but Nashville's was phonominal. 21.6% was good for tops in the NHL and Shea Weber and his 10 PPG had a lot to do with it. Weber is the focal point of a powerplay unit. Claude Giroux is also the focal point of a powerplay unit. Ideally, you'd like to have Giroux and Weber playing catch along the left half-wall and the point trying to set up Shea for his 106 MPH slap shot, just like when we had Pronger. The problem is that Weber is a right handed shot, so whomever is going to be setting up needs to be on the right half-wall, which is not a spot that Claude Giroux feels comfortable in. With that in mind, Option 1 proposes you split up Giroux and Weber. Unit 1: Hartnell-Giroux-Simmonds with Harts set up in the slot, Simmonds on the porch and G on the left half-wall. Timonen is at the point and Voracek's on the right half-wall. This unit is the same as last year. The same one responsible for a 50%+ clip in the playoffs vs. Pittsburgh. It's got the chemistry, no need to change. Unit A (no unit with Weber is a "second" unit): Weber up top with Braydon Schenn on the right half-wall setting him up. Schenner's played there before, it's where he's at his best. His puckhandling and passing ability is better than any other option we have and he and Shea should gel nicely. Briere on the left half-wall gives Schenn a cross ice option, Matt Read in the right corner and Sean Couturier on the porch round out the unit.
Option 2: Stacked top unit. Claude on the left half-wall, Weber at the point with Kimmo setting him up from the right half-wall. Simmer and Hartnell in front. Either G or Timonen can play quarterback from either half wall. Giroux has Timonen cross-ice for the one timer, with Hartnell in the middle looking for that quick pass. Timonen has Giroux across the ice ready for the one timer and Shea up top ready for the one-timer. The second unit would then have to be quarterbacked by Briere on the left-half wall with Meszaros at the point ready for the one-timer. Schenn (or Voracek) takes the right half-wall, with Couturier and Voracek (or Schenn) rounding out the unit. Two solid units, but the top unit is clearly the better unit.
Option 3: This is the same as option 1 except Timonen and Weber are swapped. Now you have Giroux on the left half-wall with Voracek (or Schenn) on the right half-wall and Weber in the middle. The one timers here have to come from Schenn because a righty can't take a one-timer feed from the left wall due to him facing the wrong direction. Now Schenn has two one-timer options: G across the ice and Weber up top. G can still handle the puck and will still have Hartnell in the middle with Simmonds in front, but he won't be able to set up Weber for big one timers (although he will be able to go cross-ice to Schenn/Voracek for the blast---Braydon has shown he can drill that shot before, while Jake isn't the purest shooter). Then you have Kimmo quarterbacking unit 2 from the point, Briere on the left half-wall, the leftover of Schenn/Voracek on the right wall, with Read and Couturier down low.
Each option has its ups and downs, and you'll most likely see some switching of the units as the year goes on. With two great right handed playmakers (G and Briere), two great left handed playmakers (Schenn and Voracek), two great point men---one lefty (Kimmo) and one righty (Weber), and three big bodies to go in front (Coots 6-3, Simmonds 6-2, Hartnell 6-3), the Flyers versitility with the man up should help them be near the top of the league in PP% for years to come.