Better With Popcorn

Trade Deadline: Even A Defenseman Can't Save These Flyers


The Flyers are considered to be buyers in the coming weeks as the trade deadline rolls near.

Players like Nashville’s Ryan Suter and Shea Weber as well as Toronto’s Luke Schenn have been mentioned in numerous possible trade situations and rumors. But in the end, will it all matter for the Flyers?

Before this turns into a column writing off the Flyers, take a step back and look at the situation the team is in. They are currently eight points behind the Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead while resting with the fourth seed.

But on the other side of the Flyers, they are only eight points ahead of the ninth place Capitals. The Flyers could very easily be in the bottom half of the playoff tree when April rolls around and their possible match ups could spell doom.

With the Flyers 5-2 loss to the Rangers this past Saturday afternoon, they have dropped all five of their games against the Rangers with one more to play. And another team ahead of them in the standings, Boston, has physically dominated the Flyers all season.

A big problem the Flyers have had, especially against those two teams is goaltending, a lack of defense and a lack of physicality.

That brings us to the trade deadline. The Flyers are said to be big buyers in the trade market. But players like Suter, Weber and Schenn are going to come at a cost the Flyers should not find it necessary to part ways with.

They include high draft picks and some of the Flyers’ brightest corps of rookies to date. Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn (brother of Toronto’s Luke) and veteran James van Riemsdyk have all been highly talked about trade pieces to land the Flyers a competent rental player.

But with the direction this Flyers team is going, it isn’t necessary for them to rid themselves of two of the top rookies in the NHL, a future playmaker that is finding his game and an injured, struggling winger.

Their problems go far beyond the hole Chris Pronger left at the blue line. They lack a sense of physicality on Ilya Bryzgalov’s and Sergei Bobrovsky’s doorstep as well as in the corners. 

They allow offensive players to skate in and get open shots on the goalies, all areas that even a healthy Pronger couldn’t cover by himself.

Then there is the puck-moving. None of these defensemen, with the exception of Kimmo Timonen and sometimes Brayden Coburn can cleanly move the puck up ice on a consistent basis without there being a scare for a turnover.

In the toughness department, the Flyers most physical players all lie on the 4th line, getting four-seven minutes of ice time a game in Jody Shelley, Tom Sestito, Harry Zolnierczyk and Zac Rinaldo.

Guys like Max Talbot, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell have been doing their job but the rest of the team hasn’t, unless they are playing in games against the Devils and Rangers in which they value redemption and pain over two points.

The Flyers have also hit a wall as far as scoring. Claude Giroux has seemingly disappeared and guys like Jaromir Jagr and Danny Briere aren’t producing at the frequency they should be.

And lastly, goaltending has become one of the biggest and most glaring problems, again. 

Bryzgalov has yet to find a consistent stretch of success, especially when his defense isn’t playing consistently well around him.

As far as Bobrovsky is concerned, though he has played better in his share of games played, he collapses under the constant pressure his defense allows. Also, the Flyers aren’t willing to give up on their $51 million man just yet, especially when they lacked confidence in Bobrovsky’s ability to lead this team in the playoffs last season.

Instead of blowing up the surplus of young talent the Flyers stumbled upon with injury after injury this season, the Flyers can easily sit back and play out this year. 

They didn’t have lofty expectations to begin with due to all the new parts. But the fast maturing process of guys like Couturier and Schenn as well as Read’s emergence has been an incredibly pleasant surprise, keeping the Flyers in the playoff picture.

In regards to the off season, Pronger’s status is still up in the air so making a move to “replace” him in a sense isn’t exactly necessary this season.

Instead, a move in July should be what the Flyers need to focus on in the coming months rather than lofty expectations of raising the Cup.

Is it a negative outlook on the 2011-12 season? Absolutely. But it may very well be the most realistic as well as resourceful outlook for the future of this Flyers team.


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George Prax's picture

I said it in the other thread and I'll say it here. I'm a big proponent for Hal Gill and I think he can do a lot of good in Philly. The dude will be money in front of whatever goalie you play and even better on the PK. He's obviously not a #1 guy but he can still put up a lot of good minutes and let others focus on things such as the powerplay. With Gill the Flyers PK instantly becomes better and he's a playoff beast. He's a bandaid solution but it might be enough to tide the team over until the summer.