Plan B (or C or D?): Where can the Shea Weber-less Flyers turn next?
Frederick Breedon - Getty Images
Shea Weber is staying in Nashville, and all things considered, it could be worse. The Flyers offer sheet served at least one purpose: It guaranteed that Weber would not play for the New York Rangers or another Eastern Conference rival. The bright side, you guys!
But the Flyers still have a problem. A pretty big one, if you ask me. Chris Pronger's career is likely over thanks to concussion problems that don't seem to be going away. Kimmo Timonen's career is almost over as well, and it's possible the Flyers only get one more season out of him. Matt Carle is no longer with the organization.
Braydon Coburn is still on the upswing of his career, but can he hold down the top pairing as a No. 1 guy? How many more minutes can the Flyers get out of him per game, anyway? Andrej Meszaros has been mostly a third pairing guy over the last two seasons with the Flyers. How much more will they get out of him?
Nicklas Grossmann is only 27 years old, but he does have knee issues and has never been a top-pairing guy. A nice player to plug the middle pairing at best. Luke Schenn was a third-pairing defenseman last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs (who are really bad at hockey) and while he has potential, there's no guarantee he'll be the player the league thought he'd be when he was drafted fifth overall.
This is the Flyers' current Shea Weber-less outlook on defense. Any other pieces in the organization are either career minor leaguers or nothing more than third-pairing plugs. (Sorry, Bruno Gervais.) And as anybody who's taken even a cursory look at the team's draft strategy over the last decade knows, drafting and developing elite defensemen is not the Flyers' strong suit. We're at the point where they don't even bother to try.
So in short, to fix the current problem that faces the organization on defense, the Flyers are going to have to look elsewhere. They tried their hardest with Shea Weber -- man, it was a damn good shot -- but it failed, and now they find themselves with far lesser options on their plate. What exactly are those options?
Philly is now in some serious trouble on D. Pronger is finished, they lost Carle to Free Agency and a top six of Timonen, Coburn, Schenn, Grosseman, Meszaros, and Bourdon is hard to get excited about. Leaving Gustavsson, Lilja and Gervais as depth will not build much confidence for Bryzgalov. I think they need to look at the trade market but quite frankly Philly is a bit thin on prospects and trading away a quality forward like Simmonds or Read might be what they have to do to get some help on the back end.
Maybe Burke could trade Franson to Philly for the right return?