As currently constructed, the Flyers are a borderline playoff team that needs to improve to win the Stanley Cup. They have a goaltender who can probably win the Cup, and the majority of their forward group can win the Cup, but on the fringes of that forward group and on defense, they need to improve.
This is the team Ron Hextall inherited on Wednesday, and it will be his job to turn it into one that is championship caliber.
How will he do it? He summed up his general outlook for the 2014 offseason this morning.
On the forwards...
I think our 5-on-5 play has got to get better. Our special teams were pretty good this year, top 10 in the league I believe. 5-on-5 we’ve got to get better.
The thing I really like about our team is everybody talks about our forwards, and that’s a good group, but it’s a young group as well. And that’s important. A lot of these guys are going to get better, and we’ve got to take it upon ourselves to help them get better every day. We’ve got to expect them to be in better shape than they were last year. That’s a little 2-or-3-percent that we can do better and put our team in a better position to get off to a better start next year.
There’s a lot of little things you can do, but I think when you’re looking to get better you can’t always get better from outside.
Sometimes you’ve got to look inside and put it on the players. Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds – [say] you guys have got to find ways to get better. I think you’ve always got to look to get better from within first, and then things you can do on the outside you’ll certainly do as well.
Again, I really like the upside of our young forwards. Can we add speed? Yeah, we can add speed. Can we add skill? Yeah, probably .. I think our team's skilled enough. I guess the one thing I'll be looking at is the fit with our forwards. Does everything fit together? Do we have the best fit for Player X and Player Y? I'll be looking hard at that.
Regarding the defense...
I think on defense, we've got a couple guys that are getting older so we've gotta take a peek at that as well. We do have three good young defensemen [he's talking about Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg] coming right now that we're real excited about. We also can't rush the process with these guys. They're young people and they're young players and we can't just throw them in the lineup and expect them to make us a better team.
That'll all shake out at training camp and throughout the year but the one thing I'm not in favor of is rushing young players. Sometimes one step is better at a time than two. Again, we've got the pieces coming on the back end so we've gotta be careful not to move them for older players. I don't see it happening.
I like our team. I think the team's in a good spot and quite honestly I think I'm taking over at the right time.
It seems like Hextall is telling us not to expect big moves. They might tinker and they'll certainly look at everything, and that might meaning trading away players who don't fit with the team now. (Ahem.)
But they're not trading Scott Laughton or Samuel Morin or somebody for an already-developed defenseman. They're not trading for Shea Weber, for God's sake.