Throughout the month of August, PHT has been dedicating a day to each of the NHL’s 30 clubs. Today we wrap things up with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Philadelphia Flyers had high hopes going into the 2013 campaign, but they also had some major areas of concern, the biggest of which was starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. His Flyers debut season in 2011-12 was plagued by inconsistency and his low points were emphasized by a wide array of unusual statements he made to the public.
It raised questions as to whether he could he adapt to life in a big hockey market and all the added pressure that comes with it. The Flyers needed him to be a major part of the team’s success given the commitment they made and in the end, he wasn’t able to come close to living up to those expectations.
That problem was magnified because the Flyers didn’t have a backup goaltender they felt comfortable with for most of the season, forcing them to continue to use Bryzgalov despite his struggles and even after fatigue set in. It wasn’t until they acquired netminder Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Apr. 3 that Bryzgalov’s workload lightened.
Even still Bryzgalov or the Flyers’ goaltending in general weren’t their only problems. Philadelphia suffered through defensive issues and injuries plagued them. It all cumulated in them missing the playoffs for just the second time in seven seasons and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren referring to Ilya Bryzgalov‘s nine-year, $51 million deal as “a costly mistake.”
The Flyers started the summer with some cap issues due to the falling ceiling. Fortunately the new CBA provided the Flyers with two compliance buyouts and they had an owner willing to exercise them on Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere’s contracts to free up a little over $12 million in annual cap space. They also let Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne walk as unrestricted free agents. Both of them are still unsigned and Knuble might retire at the age of 41.
Of course, Philadelphia did more than just get rid of contracts this summer. They added some major pieces and former captains in defenseman Mark Streit and forward Vincent Lecavalier. Those two signed sizable contracts that ate up most of their cap savings, but they were still able to address their goaltending needs by bringing back Ray Emery on an affordable one-year, $1.65 million contract.
As a result of their recent struggles, the Flyers had the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and they used it to select defenseman Samuel Morin.