Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2011/12 Philadephia Flyers R.I.P

After a stunning and emotional upset win over the Stanley Cup favourite Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers fell flat on their faces in round 2, being ousted in 5 games by the New Jersey Devils. It was a series where Ilya Kovalchuck looked like the best player in the world, not Claude Giroux. On the series winning goal, Bryzgalov shot the puck off David Clarkson and into the Philly net. It was not a pretty way to finish an otherwise strong season, but it was an appropriate representation of their defeat. The Flyers played maybe 3 periods in the Devils series with the same passion and effort as they did in the emotionally charged round against the Penguins. They invested too much energy in round 1 and came up lame in round 2.

These playoffs proved to be coming out party's for young stars Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Matt Read. Voracek is an RFA who can expect a modest pay raise from his $2.25M (he'll probably land around $3.5M). Jaromir Jagr is an unrestricted free agent, but it is unclear if the old man is interested in coming back for another year or returning to Czechoslovakia. He's still an effective player if he does decide to play another year. Aside from Voracek and Jagr, the only FAs of consequence are Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina. Carle logs 25 minutes a night for the Flyers and is a critical component of this roster, where Kubina is expendable.

The Flyers are carrying some great contracts. 2 more years of Claude Giroux at $3.75M, Talbot $1.75M, Simmonds $1.75M, Couturier $1.35M, and Read $900K. That being said, they are also carrying some terrible contracts. Pronger will continue to count $5M for 5 more years, even if he retires (the best thing for Philly would be if stays on injured reserve for the duration of the contract instead of calling it quits). Ilya Bryzgalov at $5.6M until 2020 is looking like a really bad idea. Timonen is overpaid at $6.3M, though he's only got one year left. Briere has 3 more years at $6.5M, which he seems to earn come playoff time after relatively lackluster (often injury plagued) regular seasons. James Van Reimsdyk's extension kicks in at $4.25M in October, with Coburn and Grossman also getting multi-million dollar pay increases.

Philly is going to be dancing around the salary cap for another few years. They should fight for an amnesty clause in the next CBA and possibly buy out a few contracts. The good news is that they have a solid young core, with the good contracts offsetting the bad contracts. The big question will be whether or not they can get their philosopher goaltender to settle down and carry the franchise. They have enough scoring that they don't need Ilya to be Mr Universe, he just has to stop letting in bad goals. The Flyers will be a playoff team again next season, possibly even a Cup contender. But the 2011/12 Flyers were left by Devils, bruised and battered on the streets of Philadelphia.

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