Coming into the 2012-13 season, the Flyers will be defined by two things: a skilled, battle-tested offensive core and a chip on their shoulder. After a major team overhaul in 2007, the Flyers have strung together five straight post-season appearances, none of which have resulted in a cup. In 2009, 2010, and 2011 the team that would go on to become Stanley Cup champions eliminated the Flyers in the playoffs. If that isn't a recipe for a hungry team, I don't know what is.
The Flyers success will likely be contingent on the play of net-minder Ilya Bryzgalov, just as it was in last year's post-season. His less than rock-solid performance left Flyer fans questioning his $51 million dollar price tag and I would imagine he's not feeling brotherly love.
Coming into the 2012-13 season the Flyers look a lot like they did at the start of last year, which is both good and bad. Failed bids for big ticket free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise made for a quiet off season. Philly did little to comfort defensive concerns in the wake of Chris Pronger's seemingly (and potentially) never-ending absence. Picking up Luke Schenn from the Maple Leafs in exchange for James Van Riemsdyk was an interesting move that will like unite the Schenn brothers at the expense of some young offensive talent, which is something the Flyers have in spades. The losses of Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr will sting a little, but in the end neither were worth the contracts Tampa Bay and Dallas were offering, respectively.
At the end of the day, count on seeing this young talented team extend their post-season streak to six years. Their offense is loaded with fantasy value and should put up big numbers.
The Big Guns
Claude Giroux (RW): Giroux is coming off a breakout, career-high 93-point season that saw him become one of the league's premier forwards, registering 65 assists to go with 28 goals. The young and incredibly talented player will be fantasy gold in the 2012-13 season if he can avoid injury. Count on Giroux for another huge season as he is developing into one of the league's best. He underwent surgery on both wrists this past offseason, but all signs point to Giroux being healthy for training camp. Despite playing in just 11 playoff games, Giroux was one of the league's top postseason scorers, to give you an idea of the talent the Hearst, Ontario native possesses. Expect to pull the trigger on Giroux early if you want him on your roster.
Scott Hartnell (LW): Hartnell is coming off his best season yet, as he posted 67 points in 82 games, while also managing a plus-19 with 136 PIMs. Hartnell offers a great balance of points and penalties as he was one of just three NHL players to post over 30 goals and accure more than 100 penalty minutes, along with Anaheim's Corey Perry and New Jersey's David Clarkson. The skilled winger will likely return to a spot on the Flyers' oh-so-dangerous top line next to Claude Giroux, which could result in good point production and a high plus-minus. Also, it certainly doesn't hurt that Hartnell is in a contract year. Those in leagues that reward penalty minutes and plus-minus will want to bump Hartnell up a few spots, just don't overpay for last season's numbers.
Ilya Bryzgalov (G): Bryzgalov's first year in Philly was considered by many to be a disappointment; it was riddled with occasionally spotty play and unyielding media coverage caused by The Universe opening his mouth too much. He posted 33 wins, seven shutouts and a .909 save percentage; his lowest in two years and many blamed the Flyers' postseason collapse on his poor play, although he received little help in the club's second-round loss to New Jersey. Bryzgalov is still an elite goalie and the Flyers' management was confident enough to sign him through 2020. One thing is for sure; this season the starting spot is his to lose and he is certainly worth a look afte the premier netminders have been snagged. Bryzgalov had some strong stretches, most notably in March of last year where he earned NHL player of the month honors.
Two To Watch
Luke Schenn (D): The Flyers picked up the elder Schenn this off season from the Maple Leafs to add some depth on the blue line. He's likely to see improvements from his last two 22-point seasons that produced a minus-7 and a minus-6 rating with the defensively challenged Leafs. With more firepower and a solid puck possession team in front of him, Schenn could see a career year with the Flyers in 2012-13. Remember his name in the later rounds of deeper drafts, especially those in keeper leagues.
Brayden Schenn (C): Schenn is coming off a solid post-season performance that produced nine points in 11 games. It's clear the coaching staff has confidence in him and he should finally see a full NHL season. Schenn had 18 regular season points in 54 games. These numbers are not gaudy to those in standard, single-season leagues, but, if Schenn shows up like he did in the playoffs, he could be a real asset, especially in keeper leagues. Schenn is certainly one of the top prospects in the NHL and could see more top-six minutes with Jaromir Jagr now in Dallas.
On the Rise
Wayne Simmonds (RW): Simmonds played a full 82-game season for the Flyers in 2011 and produced a great balance of points and PIMs with 49 and 114, respectively, after coming over from Los Angeles in the Mike Richards trade. The 6-foot-2 winger is hoping to improve upon last season's career year of 28 goals if he can stay healthy. Simmonds has more value in leagues that reward penalty minutes and, with almost 200 shots on goal last year, he's worth remembering in most leagues, whether they count penalty minutes or not.
Jakub Voracek (RW): Voracek has consistently posted between 45 and 50 points for the last three years. After arriving in Philadelphia via the Jeff Carter trade, Voracek also managed a career high plus-11 and ten points in 11 playoff games. Voracek is a solid, healthy winger with potential that ne never quite seems to reach. He recently signed a contract extension with Philadelphia and he could crack 20 goals and 50 points this season. It feels like he's been in the league for years, but Voracek turned 23 in August and will be entering his fifth NHL season.
Daniel Briere (C): Briere is coming off of a solid postseason in which he tallied 13 points in 11 games, which isn't a surprise considering his penchant for performing well in the playoffs. His regular season, however, was not as impressive, as Briere posted a three-year low 49 points in 70 contests With a solid offensive core in Philly expect a bounce-back year for Briere.