2014-15 NHL team previews: Philadelphia Flyers

2014-15 NHL team previews: Philadelphia Flyers
September 1, 2014, 11:00 am
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As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. Today we continue with the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division.

Today: PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

2013-14 record: 42-30-10 (94 points)

Where they finished: 3rd in the Metropolitan; 6th in the East; 13th in the NHL

Coach: Craig Berube (2nd season)

Key additions: C R.J. Umberger, LW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, D Michael Del Zotto

Key subtractions: LW Scott Hartnell, RW Steve Downie, LW Tye McGinn, C Kris Newbury,  D Erik Gustafsson, D Bruno Gervais

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek

Jason Akeson  - Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds

R.J Umberger – Sean Couturier – Matt Read

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Vincent Lecavalier – Zac Rinaldo

Extras: Jay Rosehill

Defense

Andrew MacDonald – Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossman – Luke Schenn

Michael Del Zotto – Mark Streit

Injured: Kimmo Timonen

Extras: Nick Schultz

Goaltenders

Steve Mason – Ray Emery

Our take:  Long known for making big splashes in the summer free-agent market, the Flyers were very quiet under new general manager Ron Hextall this offseason, mostly because their hands were tied by the NHL salary cap.

The Flyers are currently $4.9 million above the cap but that will change when they place injured defenseman Chris Pronger [concussion, $4.9 million salary cap] on long-term injury reserve.

The Flyers’ biggest move of the offseason came when they traded fan favorite Scott Hartnell [five years, $4.75 million cap hit] to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger [three years, $4.6 million cap hit]. Hartnell [20 goals, 32 assists] had a more productive 2013-14 season than Umberger [18 goals, 16 assists], who will probably be slotted as a third-line left wing.

The Flyers’ fate this season may fall on the health of veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who signed a one-year, $2 million contract extension but was later diagnosed with a blood clot that could threaten his playing career.

With Timonen sidelined indefinitely the Flyers signed free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Del Zotto, 24, is trying to resurrect a career that peaked in 2011-12 when he recorded 10 goals and 31 assists for the Rangers.

Considering they have had just one top 10 draft pick in the past 12 years [James van Riemsdyk, 2nd overall in 2007] the Flyers have remained competitive in the East, reaching the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons and in 17 of the past 19.

Center Claude Giroux returns as one of the NHL’s top overall players, but his supporting cast is suspect and that could hurt Philly’s chances of returning to the postseason.

Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15? No. They’ll be in the mix with the Blue Jackets and Capitals, but the Flyers just don’t have the horses to get it done.

Against the Capitals: Thu Jan. 8 at Philadelphia; Wed. Jan. 14 at Washington; Sun. Feb. 8 at Washington; Sun. Feb. 22 at Philadelphia