The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a disastrous start to the season to get back in the playoff race. They were one of the worst teams in the NHL after the month of October. Their biggest problem early on was the lack of offensive production from Claude Giroux, who struggled to find his scoring touch after off-season surgery. Since Giroux has rediscovered his form, the Flyers have taken off. Heading into the Olympic break, Giroux was close to averaging a point per game.
The biggest surprise in Philadelphia has been goaltender Steve Mason, who earned a contract extension with his stellar play. For the first time in recent memory, goaltending is not a major concern for the Flyers. It’s been almost a decade since they could rely on a starting goaltender. At the same time, the Flyers have still allowed more goals than they have scored and need more consistent play in the defensive zone. That is an area GM Paul Holmgren has struggled to address since the injury, then retirement, of Chris Pronger. The trade for former Leafs first rounder Luke Schenn before the start of last season has been disastrous, as James van Riemsdyk has become a consistent top-line forward in Toronto while Schenn has yet to live up to his billing as a shut-down defenceman.
Click player positions to see depth chart
Areas to address
The Flyers do not have much wiggle room to make a big-time deal at forward. The first three lines are full of quality players that have earned their spot. It would be a bit of surprise to see Philadelphia add anything but a bottom-line forward to add grit and toughness to the group.
On defence, there is certainly room for upgrades. Veterans Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit are in decline, so the Flyers could use depth and more speed on the back end. It would make sense for Philly to consider moving one of its forwards for a quality defenceman. That would allow them to address their biggest need, and the Flyers have enough talent to withstand the loss at forward. A short-term rental player would probably be a more realistic option, and that would come at a cheaper price. In net, they have a stable situation with Mason as the starter and Ray Emery as backup. For the first time in a long time, there is no need for the Flyers to seek improvements in goal.
Possible trade targets
Tom Gilbert, Florida Panthers
Kyle Quincey, Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo Sabres