Flyers Roundup

This is a special Flyers themed edition, brought to us by former Metblogs author, Kariyanine.

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Team Name: Flyers
City: Philadelphia
Established: 1967
Stanley Cups: 2
GM: Bob Clarke
Coach: Ken Hitchcock
Key players: Peter Forsberg, Simon Gagne, Joni Pitkanen

If anyone understands the financial structure of the not so “New” anymore NHL its Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bob Clarke. While other GMs around the league struggle with the salary cap, Clarke has hit the free agent market over the offseason adding defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, winger Randy Robitaille, center Mark Cullen and winger Geoff Sanderson. Clarke also traded Michal Handzus to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for winger Kyle Calder. He also re-signed key free agent winger Simon Gagne. The question remains though, with all these moves and signings are the Flyers going to be better than last year when they fell flat on their face to a speedy Buffalo Sabres team in the playoffs?

Clarke did a little to increase the defensive speed but the team still has veteran slow pokes Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje but with the exodus of Chris Therien and the retirement of Eric Desjardins Coach Hitchcock will be able to add a pair of fast defensemen to help compensate. While the teams defensive speed was the primary concern two other areas had big questions and they still do. The first yet least important is who will be the Flyers goaltender?

Both Robert Esche and Antero Niitymaki are very good goaltenders and could be starters on any other team in the NHL but it is now time for the Flyers to choose who their goaltender is going to be. Robert Esche has proven to have a fragile psyche and plays poorly when he thinks someone is breathing down his neck. Unfortunately for Esche fan support is behind the young Fin Niitymaki and while both goaltenders put on a good face about splitting time just about everyone can see how much it eats away at Esche. Clarke needs to move one of these guys and it should be Esche but until he does the rotating goaltender trick will have to do and I’m not 100% sure that will hold up for yet another season.

The second and most important concern is will new captain Peter Forsberg be healthy this year? No one knows the answer to this, not even Forsberg yet the Flyers hopes this season rest on his Swedish shoulders. With Forsberg in the line up Simon Gagne plays better and scores more goals. When Gagne scores goals the Flyers win, yet when Forsberg was out last year Gagne had some very dry spells. While the Flyers do have some decent depth, even with the retirement of center Keith Primeau, they will need Forsberg to be healthy for the the majority of the season for this team to challenge for the Atlantic Division title. If Forsberg can not stay healthy this season Flyers fans can expect to visit the Stanley Cup Playoffs but that’s all they will be doing is visiting as they won’t be making it very far, on the other hand if he can stay healthy and the Flyers can sort out their goaltending quandary the Flyers could very well challenge Ottawa as the beast of the East.

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