2008/09: 44-27-11, 99 points (3rd in Atlantic, 5th in East)
Arrived: Chris Pronger (ANH), Ray Emery (KHL), Jason Ward (TB), Ian Laperriere (COL), Brian Boucher (SJ)
Departed: Mike Knuble (WSH), Joffery Lupul (ANH), Martin Biron (NYI), Antero Niittymaki (TB), Luca Sbisa (ANH)
The Flyers’ 2008/09 team was much better than how their season finished off. They did lose in the first round of the playoffs, but in 6 games to the eventual Stanley Cup winners. Although the Flyers lost some scoring depth upfront with Knuble signing in DC and Lupul heading back to Anaheim in the Pronger deal, Claude Giroux looks ready to take his game to the next level and they still have one of the deepest forward lineups in the league with Richards, Carter, Gagne, and Briere. It seems only fitting that the NHL’s dirtiest player, Chris Pronger, play in Philly and with his arrival the Flyers, on paper, have the best defence corps in the East. The Flyers powerplay was ranked 6th in the league last season and should only improve with the arrival of Pronger and a healthy Daniel Briere. The major question mark this season will be in goal as Biron and Niittymaki are out and Emery and Boucher are in.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Mike Richards (C) – Mike Richards will show up in every category of your fantasy league. He is a lock to be around a point per game with 30 goals. He is defensively solid with a strong plus/minus rating and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and get his team going. He also lead the NHL with 7 shorthanded goals last season and should find himself a spot on the 2010 Canadian Olympic team.
Jeff Carter (C) – Carter had an outstanding breakout campaign last season increasing his point total by 31 points and his goal total by 17 (46 goals, 84 points). Carter led the league with 12 game winning goals last season, but on such a balanced offense the 50 goal mark will likely be out of reach. Expect a similar season to last, if not a slight decline. Carter can provide your team with some PIMS as well as he recorded 68 last season. Both Carter and Richards would make great 2nd centers smaller leagues.
Simon Gagne (LW)- Coming off a 2007/08 season that saw him play in only 25 games due to concussions Gagne’s 2008/09 campaign was a huge step in the right direction, missing only 3 games and recording 74 points. If healthy, Gagne is a threat to break the 40 goal mark and should be around a point per game. He will likely find himself playing along side captain Mike Richards and his plus/minus numbers will be strong as both he and Richards are solid in their own end and are a threat to score shorthanded. Take caution though, Gagne could be one hit away from a short season.
Daniel Briere (C) – Briere played in only 29 games last season due to injury, but was good when healthy, recording 25 points. With the offensive power that Philly has Briere could regain his scoring touch and be over a point per game, but a safe bet is 30 goals and 70-75 points. For a little guy Briere is feisty and should pick up around 70 PIMS. The point of concern in Briere’s game is his play in his own end, and his plus/minus often suffers because of it. Look for Coach Stevens to try Briere on the wing with Carter or Richards like he did at times last season.
Scott Hartnell (LW) – Hartnell will find a position within the top six forwards and with Lupul and Knuble gone, he should see more time on the powerplay. Expect close to 30 goals and 60 points. Hartnell’s real value is in his PIMS. He racked up 159 and 143 in the last two seasons.
Keep An Eye On: Claude Giroux – Giroux is just around the corner from a breakout season and this could be his year. He will be counted on to score with Lupul and Knuble out of the offensive equation. The Flyers are expecting 50 points but he could easily get more..
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Chris Pronger – Voted the dirtiest player in the NHL, Pronger could be the player that pushes the Flyers over the hump and gets them into the Finals. 45-50 points is a lock with strong plus-minus and around 90 PIMS. Pronger is of the best and will reach double digit goals.
Kimmo Timonen – Timonen is one of the most underrated defencemen in the NHL. He is a lock four 40 points this season and should be near 50 playing the point along side Pronger or Richards on the Flyers power-play. Strong plus/minus and around 50 PIMS.
Keep an eye on: Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Ray Emery – Emery is more than capable of putting up solid numbers. Last year in the KHL, he posted a 22-8 record with a .926 save percentage and a 2.12 GAA. In 2006-07, a season in which he lead his tea, to the Stanley Cup Finals, Emery was 33-16-6 with a 2.47 GAA and a .918 save percentage. The real question is whether or not he will be 100% committed to to the Flyers. I like this signing by the Flyers, they have a strong defence infront of Emery this season. Emery should make a solid 2nd goalie on any fantasy team. Expect around 35 wins, 2.50 GAA, and .910 SV%.