The Philadelphia Flyers‘ road to this season’s playoffs is steep, dirty and narrow. Other than that, it’s a piece of cake.
General manager Paul Holmgren anticipated how this season might play out as soon as Chris Pronger left the ice for the final time last season. With a few major defensive holes to fill, a reduced offensive punch and still-questionable goaltending, “Homer” attempted to sign three name free agents in the off-season.
Trying to obtain Shea Weber, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter was gutsy. Failing to obtain any one of those fine hockey men created understandable questions regarding the Flyers’ fallback options.
After the big plays missed, Holmgren added alternatives like: Ruslan Fedotenko, Luke Schenn, Bruno Gervais, Kurtis Foster, Brian Boucher, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne to the roster, either prior to, or during, this shortened-season.
Schenn was a deeply needed addition to the blue line contingent and should remain a second pairing defender for many years to come. All of the other players are complimentary parts.
Despite the seemingly low odds surrounding the Flyers making the playoffs this season, Holmgren is likely to add players leading into the trade deadline unless his team is obviously out of it. In that instance, which might not be a bad long-term situation to be in to be honest, expect him to behave like it’s the second-half of 2007 all over again.
I would move some larger salaries and begin to aggressively retool this team. A thin roster and far too many injuries hurt the Flyers’ chances of being consistent this season.
If it’s possible, I would also explore whatever amnesty options exist for some players, including the starting goaltender, this summer. The more time passes, the less I see any evidence that he’s “the guy”.