Without any seemingly great FA pieces to fit in currently, my best guess at the team's line pairings would be the following:
CAPGEEK.COM USER GENERATED ROSTER
My Custom Lineup
Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jakub Voracek ($3.000m)
Danny Briere ($6.500m) / Brayden Schenn ($3.110m) / Matt Read ($0.900m)
Ruslan Fedotenko ($1.750m) / Sean Couturier ($1.375m) / Wayne Simmonds ($1.750m)
Eric Wellwood ($0.580m) / Maxime Talbot ($1.750m) / Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m) /
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Braydon Coburn ($4.500m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Nicklas Grossmann ($3.500m)
Bruno Gervais ($0.825m) / Luke Schenn ($3.600m)
Andreas Lilja ($0.738m) /
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.667m)
Michael Leighton ($0.900m)
Oskars Bartulis ($0.100m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $70,200,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,471,944; BONUSES: $2,705,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $9,728,056
The only assumption above from a roster standpoint would be signing Voracek – probably in the $3.0-3.5 million range. He seems the best choice to have the first shot on Giroux’s line. Either Briere or Schenn can play center on the second line with Read, leaving Fedatenko/Couturier/Simmons as a great shut-down line that can have some pop as well. Talbot plays with two young guys on the fourth line – Wellwood played well overall last year and at this point without any additional roster moves seems like the best fit for the last forward spot on the team. Shelley cheers on from the bench.
For the defense, it seems like pairing a puck-moving guy with a more stay-at-home guy makes sense, so I’ve paired Timmo, Mez, and Bruno respectively with Coburn, Grossman, and Schenn. Lilja is the 7th guy. It would look a lot better with Carle in there, but potentially this group could be a top half of the league defense I believe. If at any point one of the bottom three guys seems to be failing, there would probably be a quick trigger in getting Gus/Manning/MAB to be on the third pairing. The danger zone here is if one of the top 4 guys goes down – there really is no one worthy of being a top 4 guy at this point to replace an injury in that position.
There is quite a bit of cap space left over obviously, but there doesn’t seem to be a player that fits the team to really use it on from the FA pool. And any impact player the Flyers could get in a trade would require the young talent to be a part of the trade – which I think is unacceptable at this point. I’d rather go into the season with the above team rather than trade younger talent for a more experienced player.
With all that said, I think here are the two cards left to play. First, similar to the Bruno signing, I think the Flyers will go after another Fedatenko-type player to add some veteran depth in the forward group. Someone in the $1.0-2.0 million range, preferably a younger player who has flashed a little talent. Second, this allows the team to carry Pronger throughout the season, hoping that additional time might allow him to return, let’s say possibly in late Feb/early March next year. A long shot of course, but if he can get 15 months in between him and the concussion, maybe there is a chance he plays the last 15-20 games plus the playoffs. At this point, no other defenseman would have anywhere near the impact Pronger might have if given the opportunity to return.
And if he doesn’t return, there’s always draft picks that can be traded for someone on a team needing to dump salary at the trade deadline. Not a great choice, but with the amount of cap space available a viable one for the first time in a decade or so.
And despite all of the above thoughts, when it really comes down to it, next year’s success depends more on Bryz being better than he was this year more than any other single factor. If the forwards can play to 90-95% of what they did last year, if the defense can be in the top half of the league (could be a stretch..but possible), and if Bryz can get back close to what he was in Phoenix, then a long playoff run is possible with the team as it stands today.