Better With Popcorn

Defenseman may not be only position on Flyers wish list

Several writers have started to say that the Philadelphia Flyers need to rethink their plans to add a defenseman at the trade deadline.

Some believe that even with that kind of addition it still wouldn’t be enough to help the Flyers compete with the top teams in the league. Especially the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.

They’re absolutely right.

Even if the team does bring in a serviceable defender to sure up their shaky d-corps, the team still may not be good enough to contend.

That’s exactly why the team may be looking to strengthen the forward group as well.

Much of the time, the team’s vaunted defense has been cast as the problem. While they have played poorly at times, they’re not the only issue with the team’s defensive structure.

The Flyers forwards haven’t always played defensively responsible hockey, either.

Considering that Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren met for an extended amount of time with Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson on Saturday, the thought isn’t as ridiculous as it may sound.

One peek at the Blue Jackets roster shows that the team doesn’t have many appealing assets on defense that the Flyers would want.

This speaks more to a discussion about forwards.

Before red flags go up and everyone starts looking for pitchforks, consider the bigger picture.

Prior to the start of the season, the number 78 was thrown around quite regularly.  

For those of you who forget, the number 78 is the combined total of goals that Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Ville Leino scored in the 2010-11 season.

When those three left, questions began popping up about how the team would make up the scoring. It was largely believed that the team was going to struggle to compete with such an assumed drop-off in production.

Those questions quickly became concerns of the past.

At this current time, the Flyers are tied for fourth in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. They’re also the third highest scoring team in the NHL. Philadelphia has impressively done so with a group of young players who were thrown together largely due to injury.

While it’s perfectly rational to take the ‘stay conservative and keep this young group together to develop in the future’ stance, it isn’t necessarily the approach the Flyers have historically taken.

Especially considering the current circumstance of this team.

Despite letting go of one of their top-line forwards, leading scorer, and captain, the team is scoring goals at a similar rate as last season.

With the team scoring at will, offense is not a problem. Unfortunately, defense is. There is a strong possibility that the team would like to add a defensive minded (preferably) veteran forward to the mix.

However, the notion of adding a forward brings anxiety. 

A large majority of the fan base are concerned about breaking up the chemistry that has developed between the team's young players.

Many will point to last year’s trade deadline when the Flyers added Kris Versteeg to round out the group and the team’s chemistry seemingly turned to garbage.

Realistically, that’s the risk any team takes when making a deadline deal.

For any one worried about the team losing one of their young forwards, it’s important to consider how successful the Flyers have been at developing the forward position. If they do plan to move one this season, there may be another one who emerges next season.

Also, just because the team may be looking at possible moves doesn’t mean that they have to make one.

Many analysts have made the point that this is a sellers market with an overabundance of buyers. The market will likely drive the price up on some deals making them less likely to happen.

This may hinder the Flyers ability to make the moves they have in mind.

Regardless of what happens, it’s a safe bet that the team will be working the phones until the deadline passes.


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