Philadelphia Flyers Roundtable Discussion: The Offseason

The army of Philadelphia Flyers writers at The Hockey Guys continues to grow, so we thought we should take advantage of that.

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Welcome to The Hockey Guys’ Philadelphia Flyers Roundtable Discussion.

Flyers writer David Strehle, Flyers analyst Charlie O’Connor, Flyers capologist/CBA analyst Tyler Altemose, Flyers columnist Jake Pavorsky, Flyers opinion/commentary blogger John Saquella and whatever-you-want-to-call-him Dustin Leed are taking their best shot at some of the most prevalent questions among Flyers fans.

1. Do you you think Ilya Bryzgalov should be bought out?
2. Who’s your goalie this coming season? Mason and?
3. Who should the Flyers draft?
4. How long should Peter Laviolette be the coach of the Flyers
5. What’s the biggest overall need of this team?

Let’s get things started, shall we?


1. Do you think Ilya Bryzgalov should be bought out?


David Strehle: Was big Bryz supporter for two years, didn’t think Flyers should use amnesty on him. Have since changed my mind, especially in light of murmurs of schism in team regarding the netminder. Quirky is one thing, a distraction and is quite another.

Charlie O’Connor: Ilya Bryzgalov most definitely will not survive the 2014 offseason buyout period even if he sticks around for another year – he will be a 34-year old goalie approaching the end of his prime, with at least two decidedly below average seasons in his last three years, and six more years of a $5.66 million cap hit. With that in mind, it is probably best to let him go now, allowing the Flyers to properly evaluate Steve Mason and a yet-to-be-determined backup. At this point, the risk of Bryzgalov suffering an injury and becoming ineligible for a buyout outweighs the chances that he delivers a Vezina-worthy season in 2014, which would be the only possible justification for keeping him past next season.

Tyler Altemose: I don’t think there’s much debate about whether Ilya Bryzgalov should be bought out; it’s really a matter of when. I think the team’s best option would be to test the waters in free agency and see what’s available. If they can’t find someone at a reasonable price they would be wise to keep Bryzgalov rather than overpay for another UFA goaltender (again).

Jake Pavorsky: Yes, Ilya Bryzgalov should be bought out, but not for the reason most would think. A save percentage of .900% and a GAA of 2.79 certainly are not what is expected out of a franchise goaltender, but putting up solid numbers behind defensive corps as weak as the Flyers is nearly impossible. Indeed, there are times when goalies need to take games over, but time after time is inexperienced blue liners hung him out to dry. That said, a divorce needs to happen; when a single player’s off ice quotes and activities get more press than his on ice performances, than he needs to go.

John Saquella: Unfortunately, it is time to buy out Ilya Bryzgalov. The merely average level of play combined with the potential cap repercussions have me feeling there’s no way he plays out his contract. The circus atmosphere & injury potential seal the deal for me.

Dustin Leed: Bryzgalov’s contract from Flyers ownership and management was a rash decision and so was Peter Laviolette’s choice to yank Sergei Bobrovsky from the playoffs in 2011. Now they’re suffering the consequences. Flyers should shop Bryzgalov around the league as hard as they can… No suitors? Compliance buyout is the only other option.


2. Who’s your goalie this coming season? Mason and?


David Strehle: Would like to see Holmgren kick the tires on STL’s Jaroslav Halak, or maybe even James Reimer if Toronto is looking to move him after acquiring Jonathan Bernier from LA. Other than that, it looks like Mike Smith, Ray Emery and Anton Khudobin are most attractive UFAs, and Roberto Luongo may be interesting if the Canucks use amnesty buyout on his albatross of a pact. Knowing Flyers, they could come in with wild card like Tim Thomas for one year.

Charlie O’Connor: I liked the idea of a Jonathan Bernier trade, as seven great Steve Mason games does not outweigh three terrible Steve Mason years. Unfortunately, the Bernier ship has sailed, and the Flyers are left with far less attractive options, whether due to talent, contract size, or personality concerns. While I expect Philadelphia to kick the tires on Tim Thomas, Mike Smith, and even Roberto Luongo, Ray Emery seems to make the most sense in terms of fit and allowing the Flyers to retain the cap flexibility to make additional improvements to their roster.

Tyler Altemose: Ilya Bryzgalov and Steve Mason.

Jake Pavorsky: If he choses not to go to the KHL, Anton Khudobin is the guy for the Flyers. In his first true NHL season, Khudobin posted solid numbers, and held a record of 9-4-1 in 14 games played.Other than Khudobin, I’d opt for former Flyers netminder Ray Emery.I’d opt for a two goalie system like that was instituted in Chicago. Giving Mason and whoever would become the Flyers second goalie somewhat equal opportunities will keep them fresh, and not have to deal with pressure of being thee “starter”.

John Saquella: If, Roberto Luongo is bought out, I’d like to go after him on a 3-4 year deal. If not, I’m thinking more and more I’d try to trade for Jaroslav Halak of the St Louis Blues. He’s in Ken Hitchcock’s doghouse, has one year left on his deal and the Blues have goalie depth.

Dustin Leed: The Flyers were in on Jonathan Bernier so the organization feels like an upgrade in net is needed. How about an offer sheet to RFA Tuukka Rask ? Just kidding. Or am I? No, I am. I would wait as long as possible on a Bryz buyout and see what happens with Roberto Luongo. If he’s bought out, go after him, if he’s traded, see if a goalie becomes expandable where he’s sent (Jacob Markstrom).


3. Who should the Flyers draft?


David Strehle: Flyers will take the correct approach, and that will be to take best player available when their pick rolls around at #11. Hard to tell who will still be on the board at that spot, but many good blue liners will almost certainly be there. Darnell Nurse will probably be gone, but Nikita Zadorov, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Ryan Pulock are three picks that could very well end up being a piece of cornerstone in Philadelphia rebuild.

Charlie O’Connor: Aside from the stellar top three, my personal favorite prospect in the draft is Sean Monahan, but it appears unlikely that the Flyers could select the two-way center without moving up into the back half of the top ten. Considering their current position at #11, however, they’ll be in prime position to finally add a defenseman with top-pairing potential. Out of the defensemen that could be available at #11, I lean towards Rasmus Ristolainen due to his size and puck moving ability, and also because due to his experience in the Finnish Elite League, he may be more likely to survive being fast-tracked to the NHL by the notoriously impatient Flyers.

Tyler Altemose: The Flyers should draft the best player available by the time the 11th pick rolls around. I’m not going to name any names because I don’t know who specifically would be available at that point.

Jake Pavorsky: At pick number 11, Ryan Pulock, a defenseman for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL is a no brainer. Pulock is everything that the Flyers are looking for a defenseman right now: an offensively minded defensemen who can pass and put the puck on net. Seth Jones is the consensus top Defenseman in the Draft, but  I find Pulock to not only have more upside, but to be a better fit than other defensemen prospects like Darnell Nurse and Rasmus Ristolainen. I like LW Jason Dickinson if available with the Flyers second round pick as well.

John Saquella: I’m a best available player advocate, regardless of position. There’s a handful of names that might be there at 11: Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Pulock, Nikita Zadorov, Bo Horvat, Curtis Lazar, Hunter Shinkaruk. I’d be open to trading down a bit, if it meant another top 35 pick coming back.

Dustin Leed: Since it doesn’t say first round, my answer is Jordan Subban at 41st overall. I want the Flyers to take best available wherever they pick – defenseman or not. Philly could move up as high as No. 2 or trade 11 overall in a trade package. June 30 could be nutty.


4. How long should Peter Laviolette be the coach of the Flyers


David Strehle: Could become a moot point, because I believe Laviolette will be gone if the Flyers get off to a slow start this October like they did last year. I like Peter a lot, but I cannot see him making it through the entire term of his contract. Tough to keep same system in place with revolving personnel carousel, few remaining players roles keep changing. Laviolette’s constant line juggling does not promote developing any type of chemistry between linemates, either.

Charlie O’Connor: Last year, Laviolette’s team failed because he was not given the back-end puck moving defensemen capable of running his preferred system, and he was unable (or unwilling) to adjust to compensate. The acquisition of Mark Streit shows that the front office understands that in order to have Laviolette as a coach, it is a necessity to give him the correct personnel for his system. However, there remains the potential for a high-intensity coach like Laviolette to wear out his welcome more quickly than other coaches, and Paul Holmgren needs to keep his finger on the pulse of his roster to ensure that if that were to occur, a change could be made rapidly.

Tyler Altemose: I would give Peter Laviolette until Christmas with this club. If the team struggles out the gate or looks to be in poor position in the standings (that isn’t the result of significant injuries), I wholeheartedly support a coaching change.

Jake Pavorsky: Laviolette should be the coach for at least this season, with his situation re-evaluated during the offseason. I don’t believe he can be fully responsible for the disappointing 2012-13 season. A coach can only do so much with the team given to him, and last year’s Flyers team had a weak group of defensemen, and no playmaking winger on the Flyers top line. His handling of Sean Couturier was atrocious, at best; Secluding him to the bottom six lines and a penalty killing role is no way to help a player grow. Laviolette is walking on real thin ice, and while I’m not an advocate of midseason coaching changes, he will be long gone if the team finds themselves in the same situation they were last year.

John Saquella: I would have fired him already, but that’s a moot point. Given the situation, I’d look for signs in the way the team is playing, rather than a W-L record at a certain point in time. I’d want better team defense, more focus on possession and being smarter with the puck and proper utilization of the players on the team.

Dustin Leed: I think he’s okay.


5. What’s the biggest overall need of this team?


David Strehle: A number one defenseman and a scoring winger to play with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are pressing needs, but in my eyes the biggest overall need is continuity and stability with regards to an ever-changing roster. There can be no familiarity among the players, and a basic core of young players to build around is a must.

Charlie O’Connor: Even with the likely acquisition of Streit, the team’s greatest need remains on the defense. As a temporary bandage, Streit immediately makes the Flyers’ defense passable for 2013-14, but signing a 35-year old defenseman does not solve the problem of Kimmo Timonen’s impending retirement. Philadelphia still needs to either develop or acquire a defenseman with top pairing potential to ensure that the prime years of Claude Giroux are not wasted on a mid-tier Eastern Conference club.

Tyler Altemose: Many people will cite a top-tier, puck-moving defender or a solid starting goaltender, but I think what the team really needs (especially the defense) is to stay healthy and be afforded an opportunity to gel. This brings up questions for me regarding Peter Laviolette, as he has a tendency to shift lines quite often. Once injuries aren’t an excuse, I would like to see more consistency in the on-ice product.

Jake Pavorsky: The biggest overall need of this team is a shut down, number one defenseman. Kimmo Timonen has shown that he has lost a step, and no longer has what it takes to be the team’s workhorse defenseman. Mark Streit is a nice addition, but doesn’t possess the defensive capabilities that would make him a true number one. With the pickings in free agency rather slim, Paul Holmgren would have to break the bank via trade or offer sheet into bringing in a guy who can handle the role of being the Flyers top defenseman. Whether or not that can be accomplished this offseason seems unlikely.

John Saquella: The biggest need is a set plan and the patience from ownership to allow it to come to fruition. In 2008, the Flyers had a great young core. In 2013, one guy from that core is still a Flyer.

Dustin Leed: The Flyers want to make a splash and they just might. If the team can adjust like they did at the end of the season and play sound defensively, the current D corps isn’t as bad as what people make it out to be. If not, the need for a legit defenseman is evident. We all know they need to get younger on the back end and guys like David Rundblad, Kevin Shattenkirk, etc. would look great. But I think they need a winger to play with Claude Giroux. A winger who is a consistent threat and proven scorer.



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