2014 Philadelphia Flyers Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/6/2014
For the long term, the most noteworthy thing to come from the Philadelphia Flyers this offseason was a management shuffle. Paul Holmgren, the long-serving general manager, moved further up the ladder as president. That made way for Ron Hextall, the legendary former goalie for the team, to take over as GM. Hextall had been a big part of the success in L.A. before returning to the Flyers last year, and he has a very bright future in management. It's a move that will keep the team moving in the right direction.
Of course, when you open a preview talking about a front office promotion then you know you aren't talking about the most interesting or active team right now. The Flyers fought their way into the playoffs last year and then took the Rangers, who eventually won the conference, to seven games in the opener. It was a solid showing - especially when you consider that they fired coach Peter LaViolette just three games into the season and could have really gone downhill from there. They finished strong and captured some momentum winning 16 of their last 22 that they will hope to carry over into a more straightforward and less drama-filled season.
Philadelphia Flyers Offseason Moves
It was a good time for a new GM to take over because there isn't much to do with this team. They shuffled a few parts but didn't do too much that was significant. They won't have to do too much this year, either, unless things go off the rails, because the team has their roster mostly locked down for a couple of years. Holmgren didn't leave any real damage when he moved on. The biggest move was trading Scott Hartnell to Columbus for R.J. Umberger. It's a bit of an odd move because the two are similar players, but Hartnell was more productive last year - and more popular with the team as well. Umberger could rebound after joining the team he broke into the league with, though, and it's not a make-or-break deal either way. A more intriguing move was signing Michael Del Zotto for the bargain basement price of $1.3 million. He was supposed to be one of the top defenseman in the league by now, but the 24 year old has struggled lately. If he can recapture his confidence then he'll be a difference maker. Nick Shultz was also added to provide depth for a blue line that really needs it.
The bad news for the team is that they didn't get lucky and get a really major boost to a defensive unit that could probably use it - the blue line remains the concern for this team. Kimmo Timonen is dealing with blood clot issues, and there is no miracle recovery, so he will miss at least several months. Chris Pronger also hasn't miraculously recovered from the concussion issues that likely have ended his career. Both guys ate a ton of minutes on the blue line, and they put a lot of pressure on this unit in their absence.
The Flyers picked Travis Sanheim, a defenseman from Calgary of the Western Hockey League, in the first round of the NHL Draft. He's a good player, but very raw, so they did precisely what would be expected - signed him to his entry-level deal to spread his signing bonus out over more than three years, and then they sent him right back to junior.
Philadelphia Flyers NHL Outlook
With Steve Mason and Ray Emery, their goaltending is solid - not the best in the league but far from the worst. Up front they have Claude Giroux, who is a superstar, and a lot of nice talent around him. The defense is a concern but not so much that it hijacks the team. The middle of the Eastern Conference is deep, and there isn't a whole lot to differentiate this team from others like the Rangers, Canadiens or Red Wings - but they are absolutely a playoff contender, and I would be far more surprised if they didn't make it than if they did. Once they get there they could easily win a couple of series - or fall in the first round. Neither would be shocking.
Philadelphia Flyers Schedule
Just 10 days into the season the Flyers face as tough a three-game road trip as it is possible for a team to have. They start in Dallas, facing a wildly-talented offensive team that is going to make a lot of noise. Then they face the top team in the league in Chicago before closing out with the runaway top team in the East in Pittsburgh the next night. That could be an extremely rough trip no matter how good this team might be.
Philadelphia Flyers NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
The Flyers are tied with their trade partners, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and others, as the 15th pick to win the Stanley Cup at 33/1 - right in the middle of the pack. They are also tied with Columbus and Washington as the seventh pick to win the Eastern Conference at 16/1, and the three are tied to win the Atlantic Division at 7/1 - well behind the Penguins at even-money and the Rangers at 4/1.
2014-15 Philadelphia Flyers Predictions
This is a pretty good team. It's not a great one, and is a flawed one in some ways. Unfortunately, the same can be said about too many teams in the East. I like the Flyers better than some, though, and expect them to be a playoff team - though not one that will have home-ice advantage.
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