Flyers breakdown: Who’s up and who’s down?
This Flyers season saw the team produce seven 20-goal scorers, along with a goaltender who can perhaps be a bridge to future greatness. But that’s not to say everyone had a good season, especially in the playoffs. Some actually exceeded expectations, while others slipped a little — or a lot.
Whose stock is up?
After starting the season with the Phantoms the speedy Austrian winger was promoted 10 days into the season and didn’t need long to establish his worth. Raffl displayed enough versatility to shift seamlessly from first line to fourth — and everywhere between, finishing with nine goals and 13 assists and gaining valuable experience in the Olympics.
In the playoffs Berube wasn’t afraid to go to him on the top line, trying to get Giroux going and it nearly paid off with Raffl getting what would’ve been the tying goal in Game 7.
With a full season and added confidence under his belt he figures to only get better.
How many times over the past two years have Flyers fans lamented trading James van Riemsdyk for Brayden’s older brother? Well, not knock on JVR who’s flourished in Toronto after having plenty of chances here, but Schenn’s starting to come of age, too.
While veteran defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Mark Streit and Braydon Coburn continually coughed the puck up and lost their man in transition, the 24-year-old Schenn became the defensive anchor Paul Holmgren visualized when he pulled the trigger on the deal.
While he’s seldom flashy — despite scoring the game winner in Game 2 — Luke should flourish if some potential new blood is added to the mix on defense. Surprisingly, he might even turn out to be the best in the family.
Coming off a brief but spectacular seven-game end-of-the-2013-season cameo, there was some suspicion the 2009 Calder Trophy winner as Rookie of the Year could still play. But honestly no one could’ve imagined the level he’d reach his first full season as a Flyer.
For a big man Mason has lightning quick reflexes and a glove hand that had shooters shaking their heads in disbelief. Just ask the Rangers. Without him the Flyers never would’ve made it to a seventh game. With him for the entire series they very well might still be going.
After so many years ending with goaltending a giant orange and black question mark, knowing Mason’s entrenched in goal — and with free agent Ray Emery possibly returning as backup — has to give Flyers’ fans hope.
Whose stock is falling?
Yeah, he scored 20 goals and at times looked as dominant as the player who racked up 383 goals and 491 assists in Tampa Bay over 14 seasons. But make no mistake: The Flyers didn’t let Danny Briere go free to bring in this Vinny Lecavalier.
Whether it was the back injury, the constant shifting from center to wing, or simply an inability to take some of the load off Claude Giroux and provide the spark when needed, Lecavalier was generally a shell of his former self most of the year. Then, when the hope was he might give them a lift in the playoffs, it just wasn’t there to the point became a virtual afterthought by Game 7.
With a no trade clause and four years and $18 million left on his contract obviously Vinny’s not going anywhere. At 34, he should still have something left in the tank (Jaromir Jagr is still going strong at 42), so Berube will have to figure the best way to get it out of him.
As is often his custom, it was Hartnell Down much of the season and especially in the playoffs. But this is referring to his level of play more than his propensity to hit the ice due to his physical nature of play. Just two years removed from a 37-goal campaign, Hartnell struggled to reach 20 and his once rifle shot was seldom on target.
Another player still due big bucks (five years, $23.75 million remaining), Hartnell may need to tone done his act, employing a little more finesse rather than relying on his physical, grating nature. He still has the skills to be a valuable contributor, but needs more consistency and perhaps to stay on his feet a little more often.
The longest tenured Flyer had a tough time in the playoffs, committing needless turnovers and getting beat in transition by the mercurial Rangers. That came after he had a solid, though unspectacular regular season,
Only 29, with two years and $9 million remaining on his contract Coburn could be on the move as the Flyers will try to get younger on defense. If he returns, though, he’ll need to be more with the puck and in his own end to avoid being a liability.