We all know the Flyers offensive production has been inadequate. Maybe inadequate is too nice of a word; because they're offense has been down right dreadful. The Flyers are averaging two goals per game. Half of all the goals they've scored this season came in one game against the Panthers. The only team that averages fewer goals per game is the Columbus Blue Jackets. I don't think anyone had questions about the teams offense coming into the shortened season. I for one thought the team would excel and excel early because of the number of Flyers who played during the lockout. That is clearly not the case. I think one of the biggest things that could help the team is an extra dose of practice. The Flyers had one of the most congested January in the league. The only other teams who have played 7 games are the Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars who both have identical 2-4-1 records. The team needs practices to adjust and since losing Scott Hartnell the team has a lot of adjusting to do. After trying to adjust on the fly for the past few games the Flyers will settle down over the two day break and come out cleaner and crisper against Washington on Friday.
But there is more to the Flyers offensive problems that a lack of precision. Right now, the Flyers are without their second and third highest scorers from last season; Hartnell and Jagr respectively. I've heard people mention how Giroux isn't playing as well as he did last season. I think the fact that he is now playing without both of his linemates from last season has a lot to do with that. That line was probably the best line in the NHL last season. That line had amazing chemistry. Every guy on that line made everybody else better. I'm not saying that Giroux can't succeed without Hartnell and Jagr, but expecting him to play like a world beater on a line with a few guys who he hasn't had time to play or practice with may be a little on reasonable.
The simple solution to these problems is adding an offensive piece. There could be a lot of players available, and a lot of really good players who could be available. The name that has been thrown around a lot has been Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan. There is a lot of upside to Ryan that has already been discussed a lot before (notably his physicality and scoring touch) but there are a few problems with bringing Ryan to the Flyers. First, is the cost of bringing him to his hometown team. The Ducks are in no rush to trade Bobby Ryan, he is under contract for another two seasons. They are asking for either Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier and a draft pick at the very least. The Flyers have made it clear that they will not trade they're top prospects and that is the right move. The team shouldn't mortgage their future, especially if the team is in real trouble.
But there are some more big names out there and some of them are Bobby Ryan's teammates. There is a lot of talk around the hockey world that when their contracts expire on July 1st both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will leave Anaheim. After seeing New Jersey and Nashville each lose one of their premier players and get nothing in return I expect that if the Ducks can't sign Getzlaf and Perry before the trade deadline they will try to move them. Though either of those players would be great in orange and black there are some issues. First, Anaheim would probably still be asking for either Couturier or Schenn which would be a non starter for the Flyers. Also, if Perry and Getzlaf become available it probably wouldn't be until about a week or two before the trade deadline. The Flyers are in desperate need of offensive help right now. The other big name out there is Jerome Iginla. Iginla is in the last year of his contract and playing for a Flames team that is pretty pedestrian at best. Iginla would benefit greatly from having a skilled pass first center like Claude Giroux and the Flyers would again have one of the top lines in the league. But, like Getzlaf and Perry, Iginla most likely wont become available until around the end of March prior to the trade deadline. Also, it would be much harder to accommodate Iginla's $7 million dollar cap hit than and one of the Ducks' players who all have cap hits under $5.5 million.
So who could the Flyers target? I think there are three very intriguing options that might be available and could be available right now. The first is St. Louis Blues Right Wing and Wayne Simmonds buddy Chris Stewart. Stewart is going to be and RFA at the end of the season and while he has put up 4 goals in 6 games, is not being heavily used on the Blues. With Vladimir Tarasenko making a push for the Calder Trophy, fellow rookie Jaden Schwartz and veteran Jamie Langenbrunner waiting down the depth chart, and super star defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk also in contract years Stewart is likely expendable for the Blues.
Another interesting option is Toronto winger Clarke MacArthur. After putting up a career high in points in 2010-11 he has been utilized less and less in Toronto. MacArthur still gets some power play time in Toronto but I believe that if the Flyers were to acquire MacArthur he would be used more in a depth scoring role. Toronto, who could easily end up on the outside looking in on the playoff picture again, could move the soon to be UFA. Toronto has long been the suspected destination for Roberto Luongo and a possible landing spot for both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry either this season or the offseason and has been clearing cap space since the lockout ended; trading Matthew Lombardi and waiving Tim Connolly clearing $8.25 million in cap space. Toronto could be willing to dump MacArthur ahead of a major offseason overhaul.
One more option that could be available to the Flyers is Phoenix Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski. The 26 year old Finnish winger is in the last year of his RFA contract and has a cap hit of only $1.8 Million. Korpikoski has put up 40 and 37 points in each of the last two seasons respectively. While those may not be jaw dropping numbers, he is playing in Phoenix's system which doesn't lend itself to offense and, as one of the teams top defensive forwards, is usually picking up tough minutes. Korpikoski is a versatile foward who if he was paired with Sean Couturier could create a shutdown defensive line with a good deal of offensive pop. Phoenix's front office is sometimes hard to figure out, but the Flyers have had a lot of dealing with Phoenix in the past, so if a player like Korpikoski is on Holmgren's radar I believe he would be able to get him.
Though very unlikely, I think it would be pretty funny if went out re-acquired Jaromir Jagr. I don't know if the Stars would trade him. I don't know if Holmgren would make a move that suggests he made a mistake. But I know that Flyers offense would get a huge boost from bringing 68 back. I know Jagr would like being back on a line with Giroux. And I know the Stars like big defensemen, and the Flyers have 6'7 Oliver Lauridsen sitting on the Phantoms. Will it happen? Probably not. But, man wouldn't that be something.
There are also more options for the Flyers on the farm. Tye McGinn has already made an impression on the team and will likely get more playing time going forward. If the Flyers continue to struggle I think we could see McGinn on the top line with Giroux; filling the role left by Hartnell. Jason Akeson might also get his chance with the big club. Akeson who was sent down to the Trenton Titans of the ECHL at the start of season to get more playing time has put up 20 points in 27 games since being recalled to the Phantoms. After putting up 55 points in 76 last year in his rookie season I believe the Flyers could benefit greatly from calling up the play making right wing. I think paired with scorers, like Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn, Akeson could put up serious points and increase production from the Flyers second line. Other players like Harry Zolnierczyk and Marcel Noebels might also be brought up to try and add some offense from the bottom six forwards, but I don't think they the answers for our offensive woes, not this year.
The Flyers have to find more offense somehow. In this short season the longer it takes to get the team going the harder it will be to get back into the playoff picture later in the season. As more teams get there skating legs under them it will be harder and harder to get wins. If the Flyers next seven games aren't significantly better than their last seven games it might be impossible to get back into the playoff picture.