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Flyers Offensive Preview

By: Matthew Pistacchio

07/22/09


Training camp opens September 12th and the Flyers still need to address some depth positions up front.

The first and second line will have a significantly different look this year with the departure of Knuble and Lupul. The first line spot that belonged to Knuble, alongside Gagne and Richards, should be filled by a healthy Dany Briere. Briere has shown the ability to be a dynamic offensive threat. The area of concern with Briere is his defensive play. I believe that playing with defensively responsible forwards, like Gagne and Richards, will help round out his game and make the first line a threat on both sides of the ice.

Leading the way on the second line is Jeff Carter. Carter broke out of his shell and scored a whopping 46 goals, second only to Ovechkin. Carter and Scott Hartnell will team up again this season to provide speed, grit and scoring to the second unit. Hartnell's career high in points last season really shows the offensive upside Hartnell can bring to the Flyers. Rounding out the second line ought to be the sophomore Claude Giroux. Giroux had a disappointing training camp that saw him lose a roster spot. Giroux then took his game to the AHL and learned how to be a pro hockey player. When recalled by the Flyers mid way through the year, Giroux flourished under John Stevens and eventually lead the Flyers in playoff points. It will be interesting to see if Giroux can match or surpass Lupul's 25 goals playing with Carter and Hartnell.

The third and fourth lines are surprisingly the most interesting lines for the Flyers this year. The newly acquired Ian Laperriere should have a spot on the third line as a winger or possibly a center man. Who will be playing alongside Lappy is a mystery as of right now. Carcillo may find himself alongside Lappy and centered by Powe. On the other hand, Powe may play with Asham and Cote on the energy line, leaving a spot available on the third line. Is Jared Ross NHL ready? Can he be the fourth line center? Or is Patrick Maroon really turning too many heads from his performance at rookie camp? Andreas Nodl has shown NHL potential. Can he earn a roster spot? Don’t forget about the second overall pick James van Riemsdyk. Will he be able to make the jump to the NHL? There are a number of Flyer prospects that could earn a roster spot given the Flyers cap restrictions. Although the Flyers could also look at a cheap free agent such as Mika Pyorala, who the Flyers signed(unofficially) to a 500K one year deal. Too many scenarios, with too much time left until the beginning of the season.

It will certainly be interesting over the summer and speculation will rise over line combinations. Some players may be dealt in order to make cap space, some players may be waived. All I know is that it will be interesting to see Holmgren work this summer.

Give me your opinion

m.pistacchio@hotmail.com

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