2013-14 Flyers Individual Report Card

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
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1376616334000-claude-giroux-00330 hours from now, the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2013-14 season could be over. Facing a win-twice or go home scenario against the New York Rangers, the Flyers have a daunting task ahead of them. Win or lose, it’s been a solid season for the organization as a whole. They rebounded from a dismal 1-7 start to capture a postseason berth after falling short of that goal a year ago. While no Flyers fan will be happy with a bad result on Tuesday or Wednesday, they should be at the least content with how the season evolved. After all, this was a team that could do no right in October. Many of us halfheartedly believed that the Flyers were lottery bound when Claude Giroux was goalless and Peter Laviolette was fired.

Unfortunately, the Flyers got a tough matchup in round one. A series against Pittsburgh or Columbus would have likely resulted in a victory for Philadelphia. But, their kryptonite, personified on ice in the form of those blue “Rangers” sweaters, has handicapped the captain, and made him look much more like Tennille. Hope still remains, as two consecutive wins on back-to-back nights against New York would keep the Flyers playing for at least a couple more weeks. But, that hope is dwindling, as the Flyers’ performances the last few games haven’t suggested that they’re capable of such a statement.

Regardless of that outcome, the possible end of days for this Flyers team gives us an opportunity here at SkoodSports to give our report cards. Each player is graded (in typical A+-F fashion) based on their performance through game 5 of this series.

Centers

Claude Giroux – A-

His struggles this postseason is the only reason that Giroux’s grade is not an A. After a dismal start, in which the All Star was held without a goal for the first 16 games, Giroux blossomed into the scorer we knew him to be. 28 goals and 58 assists left “G” as a point-per-game player (3rd in the NHL) and a likely Hart Trophy nominee.

Sean Couturier – B+

“Couts” has developed his defensive game as well as any Flyers’ prospect in decades. It’s ever arguable whether or not he is already at a Selke level as a defensive forward. The problem with Couturier, however, is his offense. The #8 pick in the 2011 draft did put together career highs in assists (26) and points (39). But, he’s still very slow on his skates and doesn’t possess the high end offensive moves that some other centers in his draft class do. One would hope to see Couturier’s role get larger next season, including some time on the power play.

Vincent Lecavalier – C-

A C- for Lecavalier, Paul Holmgren’s only big money offensive signing last summer, seems generous. The former Hart Trophy nominee was an albatross at times for the Flyers, though he did finish with 20 goals. Still, just 17 assists, a -16 rating, and porous defensive metrics suggest that Lecavalier was one of the worst signings in the NHL last year. It doesn’t help that “Vinny” has been an absolute no-show in the playoffs, so far. He’s already a buyout candidate with 3 years remaining on his contract.

Jason Akeson – B

Yes, Akeson has looked solid through 5 postseason games. But, let’s give the kid some time to get acclimated to the NHL game before we go putting labels on his success. One thing is certain, he should have been playing long before Tye McGinn.

Left WingNHL: Preseason-New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers

Scott Hartnell – C

For all the money that the Flyers are paying Hartnell ($4.75 million per year through 2019), they expect him to return to his 35+ goal effort in 2012. That, unfortunately, looks unlikely. Hartnell followed up a brutally poor lockout shortened season with a 52 point campaign (20 goals, 32 assists). That’s okay, and right on par with his career averages. The problem comes with that contract, as well as his propensity to take atrocious penalties at the worse times while making even uglier turnovers look routine. If Hartnell can keep up this production while making becoming a little smarter, he’ll be worth the money. If not, it’s going to get ugly very fast.

Brayden Schenn – B-

Schenn the Junior sneakily set career highs in almost every statistical category. That’s not really surprising, though, when one considers that this was his first full NHL season. Schenn was one of the team’s seven 20 goal scorers, and he finished the season even in +-. The problem with Brayden is similar to Hartnell in that he commits stupid penalties (this will be a trend with this team) and struggles in his own end. The good news is that Schenn is just 22-years old. The bad news is that he’s a restricted free agent, so the Flyers are going to have to pay him a bit to keep him.

Michael Raffl – B

The 25-year old Austrian forward emerged out of nowhere to be an integral part of the Flyers’ forward corps. Raffl had not played a single game in North America prior to this season, though he did contribute 46 points in 49 games for Leksands in the top Swedish league last year. His 22 points in 68 games aren’t that impressive. What was really special about Raffl was his ability to move from the top-6 to the bottom-6 with ease, looking capable on all four lines over the course of the season. He’s a cheap player who will fit in nicely for a few years.

Tye McGinn – C

Your classic energy player, McGinn isn’t going to wow you in any single aspect of the game. But, he’s a solid AHL player and a decent 13th forward. Though, as I mentioned, he should not have been playing over Jason Akeson this season.

Jay Rosehill – C-

It’s difficult to grade a player who never plays. Rosehill has been what the Flyers have wanted, a gritty fighter who plays sparingly and is only called upon in games where physicality is more important than results. Granted, he did score a dazzling goal against Boston last month. But, his 2 goals (0 assists) in 34 games are about all you can ask from Rosehill.

Right Wing

Jakub Voracek – A

The best player on the ice this postseason, Voracek has elevated his game at the most opportune times this season. After setting a career high in goals during the lockout shortened 2013 season, the Czech winger shattered his career marks in assists, points, and shots on goal this season. It would be nice if he could improve his shooting accuracy. But, Voracek has been the best piece acquired in the Jeff Carter deal.

Wayne Simmonds – A-

The “Simmer” was always considered a tough, two-way threat even prior to joining the Flyers. But, 2014 saw this Canadian power forward emerge as one of the team’s best offensive threats. His 29 goals led the team (and set a career high), and Simmonds’ 60 points were the best of his career, as well. The only gripe one could have is that Simmonds hasn’t yet emerged in the postseason, a time when his gritty play should be at the top of its game.

Matt Read – B

When Matt Read broke into the NHL in 2012, he was seen as a solid third line scoring winger with defensive liabilities. Two years later, and Read is one of the team’s best penalty killers. If nothing else, he should be commended for greatly improving that part of his game. With the team’s depth at center, his face off responsibilities (over 300 taken in 2012) have evaporated. If Read could become more consistent offensively, he would be a real steal. For now, he’s a $3 million third line winger, which wouldn’t be great if it weren’t for his tremendous defensive ability.

Adam Hall – C+

Adam Hall is what he is; a solid fourth liner who can take faceoffs and play on the penalty kill. The gritty forward will never be anything more than that. But, the Flyers have gotten exactly what they’ve wanted from him.

Steve Downie – D

When the Flyers landed Steve Downie from Colorado for Max Talbot last winter, they expected to receive a gritty, two-way, top-6 forward. Instead, they landed a penalty machine with no finishing touch and a propensity for head injuries. Downie recorded just 3 goals and 14 assists in 51 games with the Flyers before his season was ended by a concussion. The forward is probably healthy enough to go now. But, Paul Holmgren and Co. have no interested throwing him out there anymore. An unrestricted free agent, you’ve probably seen the end of Downie in a Flyers uniform.

Zac Rinaldo – D-

Rinaldo is heralded by Flyers fans as a gritty, more-spit-than-polish fourth liner who personifies the “Broad Street Bully” mentality. While he is certainly a penalty machine with a nice right hook, Rinaldo is nothing more than an AHL goon. His 2 goals (4 points) in 67 games were on par with the rest of his mediocre career. There’s little reason why Rinaldo is still in the lineup this postseason over top prospect Scott Laughton, and his grade reflects the fact that he hasn’t even brought a single physical element to this series against New York.

Defense

Mark Streit – B+

When the Flyers landed Mark Streit last summer, he was expected to contribute massively on the powerplay and in transition. Well, that has come to fruition. The former Islanders’ All Star led Flyers’ d-men in goals (10), points (44), and power play goals (4). He’s sometimes a liability in his own end. But, when paired with a solid, stay at home defender like Luke Schenn, Streit is as valuable a blue liner as the Flyers have.

Kimmo Timonen – C-

For all the credit that Timonen gets, he’s really struggled this season. Whether it’s age getting the best of him (39-years old) or injuries beginning to pile on, Timonen has not looked himself for much of the season. It has only gotten worse here in the playoffs, where his lack of speed and hesitance on the power play are sticking out like a sore thumb. Timonen’s one year, $6 million contract expires this summer. Whether or not he returns remains to be seen.

Luke Schenn – C+

Following last year’s dismal campaign, the James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn trade looked absolutely atrocious for the Flyers. It’s still probably going to go in Toronto’s favor. But, the performance of Schenn this season has at least moved the pendulum closer towards the center. Schenn is never going to be confused with an offensive catalyst. But, his solid defensive responsibilities are exactly what the Flyers need. Schenn is also a solid penalty killer, and contributed nicely when he was called up in that role. The best part of the older Schenn is his contract, as the 24-year old is signed at $3.6 million per year for two more seasons.

Braydon Coburn – C+

Gone are the days when Braydon Coburn was Philadelphia’s best defender. The 29-year old was hot-and-cold at times this year, and showed an embarrassing propensity for brutal turnovers that led directly to goals. His errant pass for Hal Gill in game 5 that set up the Rangers’ third goal of the game was just another example. Coburn’s speed is valuable to the team at his position. But, his effort is sometimes in question.

Andrew MacDonald – B

The Flyers traded 2nd and 3rd round picks to Long Island at the deadline to land this two-way blue liner. They then rewarded MacDonald with a 6 year, $30 million extension. At $5 million a season, MacDonald is far from a steal. But, his ability to play significant minutes (he’s led the Flyers’ defense in minutes since the trade) as well as on the power play makes him a solid pickup for Philadelphia.

Nicklas Grossman – D

Once considered one of the team’s best stay-at-home defensemen, Nick Grossman has had a season to forget. A lot of his struggles (bad with the puck on his stick, terrible passer, limp noodle shot) were always evident even when he was healthy. But, Grossman’s leg injury, one that he’d been playing through all season, clearly inhibited his ability to perform at even a replacement level. It’s a wonder why the team stayed with him over Erik Gustafsson for so long. Regardless, Grossman’s season is now over, and it would be prudent of the Flyers to find a way to unload his contract after this season.

Erik Gustafsson – B-

When he is given a chance to shine, Gustafsson does. The 25-year old Swedish defenseman scored 2 goals and recorded 10 points in just 31 games this season. All the more impressive was his +7 rating on a team with very few + defenders (he’s joined by Timonen and Streit in that regard). “Gus” is expected to play in game 6. So, he’ll have his chance to shine.

Hal Gill – D

Hal Gill is what he is. The team signed him after training camp to fulfill the role that he has all season. That is, seat filler in the press box. At nearly 40-years old, Gill played in just 6 games this season. He was okay when he was on the ice. The problem is that Craig Berube felt it necessary to play Gill over Gustafsson in game 5. That decision might have cost the Flyers the game, as Gill’s inability to cash in on a wide open shot from the point was only made uglier by a goal scored in front of his face moments later to give New York a 3-0 lead.

Goaltender

Steve Mason – B

stevemasonMason began the season the same way he left off 2013 with the Flyers. That is, he was electric between the pipes. In October and November, the Flyers’ netminder had a GAA of just over 2.00. The winter doldrums then set in, and Mason’s goals against totals skyrocketed. The veteran then settled down to have a solid spring. But, his legacy will likely be further defined by his performance on Tuesday (and hopefully Wednesday) night. The team did give him an extension. So, expect to see Mason as the starter again in 2014-15.

Ray Emery – C-

Ray Emery is never going to be the goalie that he was during his first go around with the Flyers. You can thank a degenerative hip condition for that. But, he was solid at times, especially late in the season when Steve Mason was on the mend. His terrible lateral movement and propensity for back-breaking goals soured him in the eyes of many Flyers fans. But, there aren’t many more experienced backup netminders in the league. If nothing else, Emery should get credit for beating the snot out of Braden Holtby in November, setting up the Flyers’ eventual return to prominence.

Coaching and Front Office

Craig Berube – B-

Berube gets a lot of credit for turning around a sinking ship in the fall and winter. But, his failures in managing time-on-ice here in April have soured his legacy a bit. The Flyers’ coach decided to start Ray Emery in a winnable game 3 against New York despite Steve Mason’s alleged health. He also has kept Claude Giroux’s line off the ice late in games, instead opting to send out the fourth line in their place. Berube did what he had to do to earn another season at the helm. But, there will be no honeymoon period should the Flyers flame out in round one.

Paul Holmgren – D

This grade is solely based on Holmgren’s performance both last summer and during this season. First, the GM went out and spent millions (over 4 years each) on Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit. While the latter has lived up to his name, the former has been an albatross. After buying out both Ilya Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere last year (moves that will cost the team millions upon millions for years), Holmgren may be forced to do the same with Lecavalier. Meanwhile, his decision to give Andrew MacDonald $5 million a year for six years is a head scratcher, especially considering that most of the Flyers’ prospect pool is invested on defense. Finally, trading Andrej Meszaros, a capable bottom-pairing defender, to Boston for nothing more than a 2nd round pick is confusing considering that, when healthy, Meszaros is arguably a similar player to MacDonald at a cheaper price. Holmgren will likely stick around after this season. But, his leash is beginning to get shorter.

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