The Flyers finally have it. A decided number one goal tender, and franchise net minder. The new roster has the look of a completely overhauled team. There are several well known faces that will be wearing different colored sweaters come next season. So where does that leave our goal production?
Obviously the Flyers have a ton of offensive production to replace. The likes of Carter, Richards, Leino, and to a lesser extent, Versteeg, Powe, Carcillo, and Zherdev accounted for 113 out of 256 or 44.1% of the teams goals last season. Yikes. Quite a lot to make up for. So where do the new guys stack up?
Now the guys who accounted for the remainder of the goals are still on the roster. Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk are joined by new faces in Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Jaromir Jagr (still feels weird typing that), Brayden Schenn, and Max Talbot. The new acquisitions accounted for 36 goals on their previous teams. Granted, Jagr was in Russia, and Schenn played only 8 games with the Kings. As it stands now, where would we shake out?
Assuming production is flat to last year (which we all know is a rarity but for arguments sake we will stick with it) this is how the Flyers stand.
Last years goals per game (GPG) 3.12
This years GPG 2.21
Now that is assuming no production from Schenn and Jagr, and equal production from everyone else. Assuming Schenn and Jagr can contribute 15 goals apiece, it equals out to 2.58 GPG. So where do we stand on the backend?
Last years goals against per game GA/G were 2.63
This years projected GA/G 2.48
So if you look at it from a strictly statistical perspective it's a little scary. Throw in Jagr and Schenn's production and it looks a little better, but not much. Hey, at least we still have a higher projected GPG than GA/G.
So what does all this mean?
Last year one team had almost identical numbers to what my projections are. The Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens had 2.60 GPG and a 2.51 GA/G (compared to the Flyers projected of 2.58 and 2.48). The Candiens finished the season with 96 points, good for 6th in the Eastern Conference. Sounds about right. Thats where I would project this Flyers team.
So how do they get better?
It's safe to say that the weight of the collective Flyers world has now been placed on Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. The two are more than capable of stepping up to the task. When looking at the cold numbers, it can be daunting. The promising thing, well to me anyway, is that this team could possibly have more chemistry. Imagine if we had 3 lines clicking like the LSD line was most of last year? Pretty exciting.
I would be willing to guess, barring any major shakeups, the lineup will look something like this:
LW C RW
Scott Hartnell Danny Briere Jaromir Jagr
JVR Claude Giroux Jakub Voracek
Max Talbot Brayden Schenn Wayne Simmonds
The first line is very intriguing. You lose a younger Leino and replace him with near 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr. However, Jagr looked like a man among boys at the recent World Championships. Granted that wasn't the NHL and he's been in Russia the past three seasons, but hockey sense doesn't go away. He is big, strong, and a wizard with the puck. Jagr immediately brings spark to a powerless power play. Jaromir makes the players around him better. 15 goals isn't a huge stretch for him, and this line could be exciting to watch.
I, for one, cannot wait to watch that second line (possibly first) in action. Van Riemsdyk has the intangibles to become the next great power forward, ala John LeClair. Mixed with playmakers extraordinaire Giroux and Voracek, this could be James' breakout season. With 21 goals last season despite a long cold streak, James could increase his output. 30 goals for James and Claude certainly isn't out of the question. And with Voracek playing with premiere talent, he could have the breakout season everyone is expecting of him. This line certainly will be entertaining to watch.
The projected third line certainly looks like a shutdown specialist group. Schenn is a very solid two way player, Talbot and Simmonds skate very well and are responsible defensively. Last season Talbot had 8, Simmonds 14, and Schenn 0 goals. If this line can contribute 37 goals to the campaign it would be a decisive advantage for the orange and black. It's not out of the realm of possibility for this.
With numbers similar to that of last years Canadiens the Flyers can make the playoffs. If the lines gel, like I think they can, the team could impress many of the critics. It certainly is an exciting season. One that I am highly anticipating. As long as Ilya and Sergei are stopping pucks like they can, and the boys perform well in front of them, the new-look Flyers will be making waves in the Eastern Conference. Now hurry up, October!
LETS GO FLYERS!!!!!!