Ok, so everybody else is writing a blog now, so I guess i'd better do one too so everyone knows how I feel about the upcoming season. I guess the best way to describe my feelings about the upcoming season is to say that I am cautiously optimistic. I am very happy about the additions that Homer made and despite what anyone says, I don't think he overpaid at all. He paid what he felt it would take to lock up the players that he felt would best help the team come back from the worst season in team history. So, here are my feelings about the individual players:
Kimmo Timmonen - I think Homer knew that he was going to get rid of Pitkanen and had to get a quality offensive D-man to replace him. I think he picked the best one out there that had a well-rounded game to offer. Sure, he could have went after Souray and he may have put up more points, but he's also very one dimensional. Kimmo is going to bring a ton of experience and leadership to a defense corps that is going to be much improved this year. I think we have a real nice balance of young studs and crafty veterans now. I am also hoping that Kimmo will help his brother to develop into another quality d-man. I'm looking for Kimmo to lead the powerplay and hopefully put up 50-60 points. I feel this was an excellent addition to the team.
Scott Hartnell - This is a classic case of paying based on potential and I really feel that he will live up to that contract. I know that alot of people feel that this was the deal that screwed up Free Agency for this offseason, but I don't feel that way. I think this kid fits the Flyers mold to perfection. He is a classic Flyers power forward. I look for him to get top line minutes at some point in the season and put up good numbers. I feel that 40-50 points is very realistic. Also a very good addition to the team.
Daniel Briere - I'll be honest. He's not the guy I wanted. I really wanted Homer to target Scott Gomez. I really felt that he was the playmaking center that we needed to go with Gagne. But, that said, since the acquisition was made I have been convinced that he is the guy. Obviously, everyone knows he's a great player. His speed and craftiness will be a welcome addition to a team that hasn't had much of that in quite a while. I just hope that he can fit into the system that Stevens puts together. I am really hoping that they twist the system around to fit his style of game. I am hoping that he can put together another 100 point season and really turn Gagne into the player we have all thought he could be. If Briere brings all he is touted to bring, I can see Gagne breaking out and finally getting that 50 goals and maybe 70-80 points total. This center wing combo is the key to the season in my opinion, well that and everyone staying healthy for more than 2 weeks.
Jason Smith - I have to admit, I don't know too much about Ole Gator. Living on the East Coast, and having a 9 month old baby I don't get to stay up and watch too many Western Conference games. So, I pretty much have to go by what I've read. Sounds like this guy is an incredible leader and would do anything for his team. Maybe not the most skilled defensman in the league, but will sacrifice his body to block shots (which we need since Kukkonen is the only one who will do it consistently) and will get dirty if necessary. Won't put up any points but will still be a valuable stabilizing force back on the Blueline.
Joffrey Lupul - This is the enigma. This is the guy that everyone seems to be torn on. Had an awesome first year with Anaheim, then gets shipped home to Edmonton for Chris Pronger and melts away into non-existence. Homer made a point in the presser yesterday to kind of call him out in my opinion. He kept saying "he needs to do this, and he needs to do that". In my opinion, he needs to settle down, find his groove and be a solid second line winger. I think if the coaches don't put too much pressure on him in his first year here, he can put up some pretty solid numbers. I'm looking for 30 goals, 20 assists. If he is anywhere in the 50 point range, I will be happy.
So, this brings me to what I think the results will be. I don't have any delusions that we are a Stanley Cup contender. I do feel that we are a legitimate playoff team though. I think we will finish 3rd in the Atlantic, just behind the Rangers and Penguins (Man, that hurts to say). I think we will finish with 97 points. I think we will be the #7 seed in the east. We will beat the Rangers in the first round and lose to Ottawa in the second round. All in all, it will be a good warm-up, get to know you season for all these new guys. Look out for The Flyers in 08-09. I think they are a legitimate contender that year. I know I have said in the past that if you don't win the cup the season is a failure, and I do believe that, but we're not winning the cup this year, so I'm not going to get my hopes that high.
That's my two cents. This is my first ever blog, so be gentle with your comments please : )