Excitement Centering Around Emery, Streit, Lecavalier
After a miserable 2013 campaign, a complete overhaul was expected for the Flyers this off season.
Instead, two key contracts were cut and replaced by three new players, leaving much of the same team to prepare for the 2013-14 season.
General manager Paul Holmgren said a few times during last season that he didn't plan on blowing up the team this off season. He kept his promise.
Now with the acquisitions of defenseman Mark Streit, goalie Ray Emery and center Vincent Lecavalier, the Flyers managed to cheapen their roster and replace Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere effectively, allowing them to keep a healthier version of the same team from last season.
Holmgren is happy with the roster he has now going forward. And with that, chairman Ed Snider is "excited" for the 2013-14 season to start.
"I think with the three guys that are sitting here at this table, I'm as excited as I've been in many, many years, that we kept our nucleus intact- we kept all of our young players, we kept all our draft picks," Snider said during a press conference featuring him, Holmgren and all three players.
"I'm really, really excited about this season coming up, and I expect big things, quite frankly."
The Flyers first brought in Streit when they traded Shane Harper and a 2014 4th round pick to the Islanders for his rights. A week later they signed the 35-year-old Streit to a four-year, $22 million contract.
Holmgren considered Streit an excellent offensive defenseman who will help make the Flyers a more dangerous in-zone team offensively. Streit is excited to join a team with a good young nucleus as well as the right mix of veterans.
"I thought they had a great team. A great mix between young and older players, a lot of skill, a lot of grit," Streit said. "It was tough to play against those guys. It's a great hockey town, great tradition. Soon as I got traded, I was really hoping to get something done here. I am so excited and thankful. They gave me the opportunity, and I'm really thrilled. I think this team has really big potential."
The next big move the Flyers made was signing the recently bought-out Lecavalier. They signed him to a five-year, $22.5 million deal.
After the Flyers cut ties with Danny Briere through a buy out, their plans completely changed when Lecavalier hit the market. Before free agency even began on Friday, the Flyers and Lecavalier reached an agreement to bring the 33-year-old center to Philadelphia.
Lecavalier's numbers may have been down the last four years, but a lot of that can be credited to the system he played in while with the Lightning the last three years. He likes the up-tempo game head coach Peter Laviolette runs.
"It's really up-beat, I really like that," Lecavalier said. "I want to be on my toes when I play the game, I don't want to be on my heels. Honestly, a smart defensive game is really important. I think he has that as a coach, he's a very smart coach. But when you get that puck, you wanna go, you want to skate, you wanna play in their zone. From playing against [Laviolette] here in Philly and in Carolina, I thought it was a really, really tough team to play against. That's why I want to be a part of it."
Lastly, Emery was signed on the day the free agency period began, Inking a one-year, worth $1.65 million. This is Emery's second stint with the Flyers, playing only 29 games before getting injured during the 2009-10 season.
Last season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.96 GAA with the Blackhawks. The fantastic season earned him some Vezina considerations and helped Chicago win its second Cup in four years.
"Yeah, personally last year in Chicago was such a great working environment, the whole team, how we wanted to do well for each other that I definitely take a lot from it," Emery said. "Just how relationships went, how the season went, how we were down in Detroit, how that little bit of adversity helped us. Things like that. Yeah, I think any experience you have is definitely… you can learn from it. Positive or negative but having that positive one is something that I'll try to bring."
Between his two stints with Philadelphia, Emery played three seasons with Anaheim and Chicago, and his mindset completely changed. The once loose, immature and opinionated goaltender became a seasoned vet and a leader within the locker room.
He said he looks forward to competing with as well as being a mentor to the 24-year-old Steve Mason, who the Flyers acquired at the trade deadline during last season. This is a new Ray Emery, and it's a part of the reason the Flyers brought him in.
"I'm older, which is a good thing. Like I said before, any experience is a good experience," Emery said. "A bad experience, you can learn from your failure and not repeat that, and positive experiences you can just try to emulate them. Especially being a goalie, you know the game more, you know you have more of a system with the game. Just being a player in general, I know how to manage the whole team situation, the goaltending relationships. Old is better, as long as the body is still working and feels good."
No starting goalie has been chosen yet for the Flyers, but certainly the two different types of adversity Emery and Mason face will provide a healthy competition and a good experience for both players.