Monday, May 19, 2008

What's Next For The Flyers

It started off so well this playoffs for the Flyers, defeating the Capitals in a thrilling seven game affair, then taking it to the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens, but nothing seemed to click when taking on the Penguins. However, the future is bright for the Flyers.

The front-line seems to be in great shape with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter taking the helm. With the emergence of RJ Umberger in this playoffs, the youth movement is alive and well in the City of Brotherly Love. Daniel Briere proved he was worth the money he got last summer, as Mike Knuble provide a solid sidekick when healthy. The acquistion of Vaclav Prospal was key for the Flyers, but being able to retain him will be the big pressure point. The health of Simon Gagne will have to looked at as well.

Defensively, the Flyers got quicker with the acquistion of Kimmo Timonen this off-season and Braydon Coburn showed his true worth on the ice. However, whether or not the Flyers will re-sign Jason Smith and whether or not to buy-out Derian Hatcher will be on the chopping block for GM Paul Holmgren.

Between the pipes, Martin Biron emerged as the #1 goalie for the Flyers, so what to do with Antero Niittymaki?? With a weak goaltending free agent market this summer, the Flyers could hang him out there and fall back on Rejean Beauchemin or Martin Houle as the back-up for Biron. Of course, should Biron fall to injury, having Niittymaki as a back-up could prove to be crucial.

All in all, going from dead last in the NHL to the Conference Finals could be deemed as a huge success for the Flyers. That said, Holmgren will have a lot decisions to make in the off-season and will have to be based on building on this season rather than fall short by three wins to the Stanley Cup.

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