For many seasons, the Flyers have always opted for the "quick fix" mentality. Signing a big name free agent, trading away draft picks and young prospects for more established players often on the back end of their career, and relying on high salaried players to get the job done. This strategy has come close to paying off several times. Trading away a huge chunk of the future for an aging Chris Pronger, paying big bucks for Danny Briere, trading for the rights of Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell and paying over market value to ensure they sign as Flyers. These are all the agressive type of moves that the Flyers have become known for doing, and these types of moves often get them close to their ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup. We saw this team come within 2 wins of a Stanley Cup on a miraculous run in 2010.
Now, in hindsight, I still think these type of agressive "quick fix" moves aren't a bad thing. I would still do the Chris Pronger trade over again or the Danny Briere signing over again, for example.
Last season, we saw the Flyers make the same agressive and bold moves they have become expected to make, however of a much different kind. Trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were the best things they could have done for this franchise's future. It put them on the right path towards establishing a Stanley Cup team in the salary cap era. The move singlehandedly replenished the team with young, cheap and promising young players. The move allowed them more cap flexibility and allowed them to sign a number 1 goaltender (whether you agree if Bryz is the right man is a different argument entirely). The move allowed Giroux to become the offensive leader of this team and blossom into the superstar he had the potential to become by giving him more ice time and making him the go to guy on offense.
The Flyers team now had a group of promising young faces. Giroux, JVR, Couturier, Schenn, Read, Voracek, Simmonds. These are all guys with the potential to be great if not absolute superstars in this league. Giroux has already reached this potential and guys like Couturier and even Schenn have shown similar promise. JVR, as impatient as Flyers fans are, still has unlimited potential to tap into and could realistically turn into a 30-40 goal scorer. Read, Voracek and Simmonds have all shown the ability to be highly effective offensive threats and have shown the ability to be contributing top 6 type forwards.
Furthermore, while Timonen may be aging, the Flyers have a solid group of defensemen entering their late 20s, which for a defenseman, means entering their prime. Coburn has developed wonderfully, Meszaros has shown us when healthy that he can be a great offensive defenseman. Carle, while often victimized by Flyers fans for being a turnover machine, is an above average defenseman who can play huge minutes. If you got a replacement for Carle on the open market, you would overpay for a player of similar or less skill. Grossman has shown us he is a great physical stay at home type defenseman just entering his prime, and a trade to the Flyers might have been the best thing for his career.
My point is this, the Flyers, after all their years of quick fix veterans, have finally developed a young nucleus of players that is essential to developing winning teams and ultimately championship teams.
I'd like to draw some parallels between this current Flyers team and recent Stanley Cup winners.
2012 LA Kings - The LA Kings had a similar core of players that they let develop for 3-4 seasons before ultimately winning the cup. They were patient and let their homegrown products develop into huge players for them. Players like Brown, Kopitar, Doughty, ect were also too once young guys with lots of potential on a young team, It took them a few seasons to grow and mature as players and as a team. Once they had a few seasons of growing together as a core, the LA Kings made the move to acquire Richards and then Carter. This ultimately was the type of move that takes a team over the top. When you have a young team that is developing together and the time seems right, acquiring these types of players is wise. Ultimately, LA let their young team grow and develop and it paid off. They made no impatient moves and kept the young team in tact for the most part and it paid off.
2011 Bruins - Same thing, lots of young players with lots of huge promise. No impatient moves. Guys like Marchand, Lucic, Bergeron, etc. All guys playing for the Bruins for a while who finally gelled as a group. We always knew they were a good group of players, but the Bruins organization was patient and let them find themselves and gel as a group. These players grew as a group for a few seasons and it ultimately paid off.
2010 Blackhawks - They had a young nucleus of Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Sharp, which reminds me very strongly of having Giroux, Schenn, Couturier, Coburn, Mez, etc. Took these guys a few years together to finally reach the ultimate goal. They took logical steps. First making the playoffs, then the Western Conference finals, then ultimately the Finals where they won the Cup.
The Flyers have the potential to become the same team. All the right young pieces are in place. There is no need to make an impatient move for an expensive big name superstar. Let these guys go through the necessary growing pains and develop a winning team. With all the injuries and inexperience they had, they still managed to make it to the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs. Give them a healthy team and a season or two more of experience and I think the ultimate result will be a great thing.
The Flyers have been the center of many bold rumors. Trading for Rick Nash, trading for Bobby Ryan, signing Zach Parise.
We don't need to trade for these players.
Rick Nash would cost us a 7.8 million cap hit and several of our young players that give us such promise and depth. We don't need Rick Nash's 30-40 goals. We already have our Rick Nash. His name is James van Riemsdyk. He has the ability to score 30-40 goals a year and for half the price nearly!
Why trade away a package of JVR, Read and our first round pick for 35-40 goals and a huge cap hit? There is no doubt Rick Nash is a fantastic player. In a perfect world anyone would love him on their team. The reality is this... JVR and Read and our other young guys have the upside to end up producing more than Nash would combined and for less money.
Theres also no need to trade for Bobby Ryan. He costs more than JVR and would ultimately require two promising players or a promising player and a pick. Ryan is a 30-35 goal a year guy, no more no less. We already have players who can do this or who will do this in the future!
Zach Parise? No thanks. He will cost 7-8 million a year I would say. We already have the firepower to equal his output and for less money. No sense in tying up 8 million a year for Parise's 90 points when a combination of JVR, Schenn and Read for instance could produce 120+ points and for the same price.
My bottom line is this...
The Flyers have all the right pieces in place to win a Stanley Cup. The missing piece is patience. Give them another season or two together Mr. Holmgren, you won't regret it.