The Philadelphia Flyers finally erased all doubt in their goaltending by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract. For the last several years the Flyers were known as a great team that had goaltending issues and now those issues have been resolved, but at what cost?
The Flyers did what many thought was never going to happen and traded away team captain Mike Richards. The Flyers also traded away Jeff Carter in an attempt to get below the cap to make room for Bryzgalov. However, when you look deeper into the deals the Flyers were able to make cap room for an elite goaltender and replaced Richards and Carter with younger version of themselves in Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek.
Lets take a look at these five players and the fantasy impact they will have next season.
Ilya Bryzgalov is an elite goaltender both in the NHL and in fantasy circles. The last four seasons Bryzgalov has started in 64 or more games each season. He has won 36 and 42 games over the last two seasons with seven and eight shutouts. Those are great numbers for fantasy players and now he is playing for a team with a great defense in front of him led by Chris Pronger. Bryzgalov should be a top five fantasy goalie this season and should be drafted accordingly.
Mike Richards will likely fall to the second line behind Anze Kopitar. After scoring 75 and 80 points in his third and fourth seasons, Richardís point totals dropped to 62 and 66 points over the last two seasons. Richards did score his career high 31 goals two seasons ago but last season he only scored 23 goals, his lowest in four years. This trade doesnít help poolies at all, not only is Richards playing with weaker teammates but he has even struggled to put up points on a strong offensive Flyers team. Expect Richards to score 60 points next season, totals will go up if the Kings can add another scoring winger.
Brayden Schenn has all the tools and leadership skills to be the next Mike Richards. Schenn may be a two-way center, which sometimes is not what poolies what to hear about a player, but he is also highly skilled offensively. Schenn played in the WHL for four seasons and each season he saw his goals per game and point per game increase; last season he average 0.76 goals and 1.97 points per game. Schenn should play the full season in the NHL this year and should line up on the third line. Expect Schenn to score 40 points next year and is about two years away from breaking out. Schenn has the potential to be a team captain and point-a-game player.
Jakub Voracek was drafted seventh overall in 2007 with the expectation that he would be an offensive star but has gone on stretches of inconsistency and needs to bulk up to become an impact player. A change of scenery could be just what he needs as he has only scored 14 and 16 goals and 46 and 50 points in his first two seasons in the NHL. The Flyers are deep offensively, which should give Voracek better linemates. Voracek has the potential to be a Jeff Carter type player, 40-goal and 80-point player but expect him to score between 50 and 60 points next season depending on which line he ends up on.
Jeff Carter like Richards saw his point totals drop over the last two seasons scoring 61 and 66 points prior to scoring 84 points, including career high 46 goals. Carter was likely tapped out in Philly as he was stuck on a deep offensive team and the young stars like Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk are starting to breakout pushing Carter further down the Flyers depth charts. Carter will be the number one center and be the main guy in Columbus.
The biggest winner of these deals is Rich Nash, who finally has an elite center to play with. For those who have been hanging on to Nash waiting for him to breakout, your wait is finally over. Carter and Nash have played together in some international tournaments so if they can form some chemistry expect career years. Carter should push the 45-50 goal mark and hit the 90 point total, while Nash will break the 40 goal mark and finally score 80+ points next season.
Finally the last player to consider this year in your fantasy pool is Nikita Filatov. Wow has this kidís stock dropped! He was drafted sixth overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and was just traded to the Ottawa Senators for third round draft pick in 2011. Filatov has elite potential but has never been given a shot to show them in Columbus. Now is the time to acquire Filatov as his fantasy owners are growing tired of waiting for him and you could get him at a reduced rate. Filatov has the potential to be a point-a-game player and been compared to Pavel Datsyuk, Pavel Bure and a lesser version of Alexander Ovechkin. The Senators are going through a rebuild and will give Filatov every opportunity to produce. If he can show chemistry with Jason Spezza LOOK OUT! This is a boom or bust opportunity for Filatov, so take the risk and you could be greatly rewarded.
Aaron Brouwer is the co-creator of fantasyhockeycoach.com. FHC is a free fantasy hockey service that developed a ranking system combining post-lockout statistics, current factors and our own hockey knowledge. Brouwer writes a weekly fantasy hockey column for The Star Phoenix, Fantrax, Inside Hockey and Bleacher Report. Email Coach Brouwer at [email protected] or check us out on twitter at twitter.com/fanhockeycoach.