Last season marks the 1st time the Flyers have missed the playoffs under GM Paul Holmgren (Not Counting his half season after Bob Clarke Resigned). Now we will start off on things that went wrong in the 2012-2013 that lead them to missing the playoffs. The most obvious issue was Defense.
First thing is the Defense Core all struggled last season. On most nights you would see multiple players left open in the slot, too many turnovers in the defensive end, quite a bit right in the slot and too many breakaways against. The transition from defense to offense was also brutal, not clean passes and too many homerun passes attempted. The loss of Carle and Pronger also hurt the team because they logged 20+ mins a game. Now it wasn't all the defensemen though, there was also some poor defense by the backchecking forwards, loss of coverage or just overall chasing the puck carrier and losing position. The second biggest issue was the lack of offense, in 26 of the 48 games the Flyers had scored only 2 goals or less. Later down the road Goaltending became an issue when it was made clear early in the season Laviollette realized Michael Leighton couldn't handle the back up role and Bryzgalov ended up playing a lot of consecutive games. He was playing well at the beginning but his game declined due to fatigue which forced Homer to trade for Mason.
Lastly Coaching, Laviollette's system was not working early on and he had to choose Ajust or stick with it. The problem with adjusting, as a team that takes time. In a shortened season when you've already dug yourself a hole, adjusting the teams system will dig a bigger hole before you start climbing out. Not a lot of time for practice and you still need to use the new system in games before you can use it effeciently. Lavy choose to stick with the plan, would things have been better otherwise, I don't belive the results would have been much different if at all.
So What have the Flyers done to improve so far? They bought out Briere and Bryzgalov, Signed Lecavalier, Striet and Emery. The buyouts were necessary to free up cap space and were purely all business. Lecavalier is an upgrade over Briere, He has size, is strong on the puck, a bit better defensively, good at faceoffs and a threat on the PP at a cheaper price while also 2 years younger. Striet will fix some of the issues on Defense in the areas they missed Carle however he is older, slower and not great defensively compared to Carle. Striet will be an asset to the team as long as his minutes are ristricted to 2nd pairing minutes. Ray Emery on the other hand is coming off a great season but I do not feel his success will replicate unless the Flyers D seriously improves. Chicago was a strong offensive and defensive team, Philly was none of those last year and Steve Mason still has to prove he can handle the #1 job. This is the part that could destroy Philly this season, if Mason faulters they are done.
So the big question, Are the Flyers a Playoff team this coming Season?
I think they can but with Detroit and Columbus now in the mix it will likely be somewhere from 6-8th if all goes as planned. Flyers also have an excess of Defensemen so look for some sort of deal. Meszaros is likely to go as a salary dump or Coburn could be packaged. I also hear a deal with Gagne will also be announced once the Flyers are under the cap as well.