From MOP Squad Sports

Philadelphia Flyers
NHL Preview 2005-06: Philadelphia Flyers
By BRIAN PIKE, MOP Squad Sports Hockey Editor
Sep 20, 2005 - 6:04:00 PM

Welcome to MOP Squad Sports' 2005-06 NHL Season Preview!  MOP's overworked hockey editor is dying for the new season to start after a year's absense for the NHL due to the lockout nastiness, and as usual is not shy about giving his predictions on the new season!  He's also not above referring to himself in the third person and using a lot of exclamation points!

Anyway, these previews will appear, two a day, until the season starts on October 5th.  They will be put on-site by division, roughly in order of predicted finish.  So today we start with the Atlantic division, and predicted division winner Philadelphia.  Note that the rookies listed are only those most likely to make the team, not necessarily ones who have already sewn up a spot, and surprises always occur in training camp.  The In/Out portion represents significant players added and lost since the end of the 2003-04 season.  And now, on with the show...

In: Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje, Chris Therien, Brian Savage, Mike Knuble, Turner Stevenson, Eric Chouinard, Jon Sim

Out: Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, John Leclair, Tony Amonte, Todd Fedoruk, Alexei Zhamnov, Sean Burke, Vladimir Malakhov, Danny Markov, Marcus Ragnarsson, Radovan Somik, Mattias Timander.

Rookies: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Antero Niittymaki, R.J. Umberger

Since the 2004 playoffs, where the Flyers were narrowly eliminated by the eventual Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, the turnover in Philadelphia's roster has been extreme.  Not necessarily in terms of the number of players, but more in terms of the core players who have left, and the big names who have replaced them.  They'll all have to learn to live together under coach Ken Hitchcock's strict defensive strategies, because anything less than a Cup in Philly will be looked at as a disappointment this season.

Strengths: 1. The Flyers had a ridiculously easy time luring some of the league's best free agents last summer.  The sheer talent infusion on both offense and defense in Forsberg, Hatcher, Rathje, and off-season 2004 additions Knuble and Stevenson is ridiculous.  Sure, the Flyers lost some talented players too, but Forsberg alone makes up for a lot.

2. The Flyers farm team who play just across the street, the Philadelphia Phantoms, actually won the AHL's Calder Cup last season, and no fewer than eight players from that playoff team have a very good shot at playing regularly for the Flyers.  Adding that much good young talent to a team loaded with solid veterans usually makes for a winning formula.

Weaknesses: 1. At a time when the league is trying to reward speed, quickness and offense, one has to wonder how well the Flyers defense will make out.  While power play specialist Johnsson and youngster Pitkanen and Seidenberg aren't slow by any means, free agent signings Hatcher, Rathje, and Therien certainly are, and Eric Desjardins isn't getting any younger.  Hatcher in particular looked like he was skating in sand the last time he played an NHL game, the 2004 playoffs in Detroit.

2. The Flyers are already running into injury problems, with Forsberg and Hatcher likely to miss camp and winger Sami Kapanen spending the first few months of the season on the disabled list.  Injuries on defense sunk the Flyers in the 2004 playoffs, and while the team is deep, they're not so deep that they'll make it too far if they're missing a couple of key guys.  Hatcher and Forsberg alone missed a combined 110 games in 2003-04.

Don't Be Surprised If: The Flyers don't dominate the regular season, but still win it all.  The team Philadelphia has put together is particularly conducive to playoff success: big, nasty, and riddled with clutch performers like Forsberg, Keith Primeau, Kapanen, and Gagne.  Hitchcock is an experienced enough coach to know that his team will need some adjusting to him and to one another in the regular season, but he's also a good enough coach to have them firing on all cylinders come April.

Outlook: Even if they do have some regular season struggles, the Flyers have enough to win their division, maybe even the conference.  Likely the team to beat in the East when the playoffs roll around.


Centres: 1. Peter Forsberg  2. Keith Primeau  3. Michal Handzus  4. Jeff Carter  5. Mike Richards  6. Eric Chouinard  7. R.J. Umberger

Wingers: 1. Simon Gagne  2. Mike Knuble  3. Sami Kapanen  4. Turner Stevenson  5. Brian Savage  6. Donald Brashear  7. Branko Radivojevic  8. Patrick Sharp  9. Jon Sim

Defensemen: 1. Kim Johnsson  2. Eric Desjardins  3. Joni Pitkanen  4. Derian Hatcher  5. Mike Rathje  6. Dennis Seidenberg  7. Chris Therien

Goalies: 1. Robert Esche  2. Antero Niittymaki  3. Jamie Storr

Restricted Free Agents: none

© Copyright 2007 MOP Squad Sports