Thursday, September 01, 2011

2012 Projections: Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Flyers received quite the facelift this Summer, going to town on the trade market and then making some big free agent signings as well.

The Flyers decided that improving their goaltending was going to be the number one priority and they were going to pull out all of the stops to do it.  I would say that the Flyers made the most changes from their Pool Outlook table that I published in June to now, where it is actual changes being made, not just additions.  They sacrificed some real offense (and two-way players) in order to open up enough cap room to sign Ilya Bryzgalov long-term.

If the Flyers defense can stay healthy for the regular season and into the playoffs, I think the Flyers do have a real shot at going back to the big dance at the end of the playoffs, playing for the Cup.  Let's face it, it was the defense that really carried this team in 2010, so with some better goaltending, they may just have a shot.  Oh wait, do they have enough offense to do the job?

Nevertheless, this is a pool projections post and I think the Flyers should be a team that puts up some real points for fantasy players everywhere.  Some of the usual suspects will be back in form (all things being equal) and I think we might see a rise in stock for a number of other players.

Claude Giroux85Kimmo Timonen45Ilya Bryzgalov90
Daniel Briere75Chris Pronger40Michael Leighton10
James Van Riemsdyk55Matt Carle35
Jakub Voracek50Andrej Meszaros30
Scott Hartnell45Braydon Coburn20
Jaromir Jagr45Andreas Lilja10
Wayne Simmonds35
Andreas Nodl20
Max Talbot20
Ian Laperriere15
Blair Betts10
Jody Shelley5
Brayden Schenn40Matt Walker15Sergei Bobrovsky10
Michael Nylander30Erik Gustafsson10
Tom Sestito10Oskars Bartulis5

Pool Worthy Forwards (Inside the top 160, 35 points)
I have a really good feeling about Claude Giroux this year in Philly, he becomes the number one guy there with some very good support, with all things being considered, I believe Giroux could be a valid 1st round pick in a lot of drafts and considered a steal in the 2nd round.

James Van Riemsdyk is another notable player, as he slowly climbs the list into the conversation as good young power forwards out there.  Finding chemistry with a brand new centre, looking at either Jakub Voracek or an outside shot of Brayden Schenn, Van Riemsdyk has some real potential to break out this year, even above the 55 points projected.

The real wild card among the pool favourable will be Jaromir Jagr and his (triumphant?) return to the NHL.  Now 39 years old, there is a very decent chance that Jagr could put up some points, but can his body live up to the grind of the new NHL?  I think 45 points is a good number to aim for, considering he stays healthy for 75 or more games.

Pool Worthy Defensemen (Inside the top 80, 20 points)
The Flyers defense is a pretty solid six players, bringing their own little niche to the game, but are fairly consistent in their own end, which makes them one of the stronger sixes.  With Chris Pronger still ailing from a back injury and his start of the season in question, the Flyers will have to lean on Kimmo Timonen again to lead the way on the scoresheet and I think he will do just fine.

Matt Carle was out of his skin in 2011, so I think he might fall down a little bit, while Andrej Meszaros will quietly go about his job and still put up some points.  I'd like to see more out of Braydon Coburn, but with the guys he's playing behind likely to get all the minutes, I can't see his progression improving any quicker.

Pool Worthy Goalies (Inside the top 40, 25 points)
Ilya Bryzgalov was good in Phoenix, playing for a decent team defensively.  Now, he moves behind one of the biggest top sixes in the league, which gives him some real potential for points this year, making him a pretty good candidate for another 1st round selection... possibly 1st overall?  He will be good this year, should be able to make some real noise in Philadelphia.

Pool Worthy Rookies
I think Brayden Schenn has to be considered as an early candidate for the Calder Trophy, even without him stepping on the ice for the Flyers.  Schenn was likely the pivotal player coming back in the deal that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles and for good reason.  If Voracek isn't going to make it as a second-line centre, then Schenn will have to step in and do it, trial by fire-like.  He should have the frame to do it and some pretty good potential linemates, which makes him a very pool worthy player.  But like most rookies, take him in a spot where you think he fits in the draft, don't rush to overvalue rookies.

Key Injuries
Of course, we go back to Chris Pronger.  His back is expected to keep him out of training camp, which may hinder his start, especially production-wise.  I don't have much doubt that if he can come back at 100% or close to it, that he'll put up some points, that's just what he does.  A back injury is another one of those easily-aggravated injuries too, which you may want to consider discounting his production for.

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