[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it onhttp://broadstreetbully.net. This was also posted on http://wildfireradiosports.com in the current way it’s posted here.]
As the players are preparing to get the season underway, let’s take a look at five keys the Flyers need to be successful this season.
After the jump are the five keys to the Flyers winning it all this year.
Flyers Key 1: Decide On a Goalie
The first key to the Flyers success is keeping one goalie healthy long enough to play a whole season. Last season worked great with Mason and Neuvirth splitting starts and each playing magnificently. But that method doesn’t help the Flyers this year. Both goalies are entering contract years and Hextall is going to have to choose which one the Flyers plan on keeping. If you’re comparing the two, they were very similar last year. Mason had a rough start but kept the Flyers in it down the stretch and into the playoffs. Neuvirth covered for Mason during his rough start and played great when Mason wasn’t cutting the mustard. But looking at Neuvirth and his past record, he has a tough time staying healthy. And Mason’s past record is that he’s a Calder trophy winner. For that reason, I’m saying Hextall should keep Mason and try to trade Neuvirth at the deadline. Stolarz will fill in as a solid backup and the Flyers have organizational room to move up their new stock of prospect goalies from the minors.
Flyers Key 2: Determine Prospect Value
In the days of the salary cap era, teams have to make sacrifices. With Gostisbehere already on the big club, and the likes of Provorov, Sanheim, Morin, and Hagg sitting in Juniors or the AHL, the Flyers are going to need to determine who they are going to keep and who they are going to dangle on the trade market to try to get some scoring depth. If all the prospects pan out and play up to the level that the fans are expecting, then there’s no way Hextall will be able to finagle signing all of them to deals unless they all take a hometown discount. I would say the only one that’s absolutely safe is Provorov, as he’s being touted as the Flyers’ blueline anchor for the next decade or so. The earlier we find out which prospects have a higher ceiling, the sooner we make that trade to poach some scoring from a Western conference team.
Flyers Key 3: Scoring
I’m really going out a limb here with this one. The Flyers just need to get consistent scoring. Either the players they have need to step up or Hakstol needs to go the Mike Sullivan route and start infusing the youth movement to get the blood moving. There was a lot of promise with the young guys like Cousins last year but there wasn’t a lot of scoring to go with it. Now that RJ Umberger is off the roster, maybe the inability to score went with him.
Flyers Key 4: Cap Space
Hextall already has the effective use of cap space covered. The problem comes down to creating cap space. Streit and Schultz come off the books at the end of this season so if Hextall can move them for picks at the deadline it’s all gravy on that front. The real problem currently, ignoring Andy MacDonald’s contract abomination, is Matt Read sucking up 3.6 million until 2018. If Hextall can move that contract off the books this year then the Flyers may have a pretty positive outlook going into the draft and free agency next offseason.
Flyers Key 5: Andy MacFly
So, there’s a lot of things that have to go right for this to work but bear with me. First, Andy MacDonald has to get a call from his friend, who is an older scientist, that tells him he has to bring a camera to a mall parking lot in the middle of the night. The old scientist then has to explain that he ripped off Libyan nationalists for some plutonium to build a time machine. Naturally, the Libyans discover where the old scientist is and come to murder him with AK47s and an RPG at the exact time he is explaining how he ripped them off. Andy MacDonald, clearly running for his life, hops into the time machine and hits 88mph attempting to get away, simultaneously activating the time machine and causing the Libyans to crash into a photobooth. As an editor’s note, photobooths still exist in this scenario. Back to the story, Andy MacDonald is now in 1955 trying to get back to present day to play for the Flyers. He somehow manages to date his Mom by mistake and then his Dad never meets her, dates her, or marries her. Andy remains in 1955 and circuitously becomes his own father. He vanishes from present day because of the time paradox or something like that and then the Flyers don’t have to deal with his contract any longer. His cap hit comes off the books. Gostisbehere gets that money. And that’s all she wrote.