The Philadelphia Flyers finished above .500 (23-22-3), but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The 2006-2007 season was horrid, as the team finished dead last in the National Hockey League. This season wasn’t nearly as bad, but it became disappointing because of a lack of roster depth, numerous injuries and some poor performances.
Let’s review some key questions that exist heading into next season:
#5: Keep the general manager?
We’ll take founder and chairman Ed Snider at his word and assume that Paul Holmgren is safe.
Holmgren’s tenure created a Stanley Cup appearance in 2010, but has included three disconnected seasons since then. Next year might become a turning point in the current general manager’s front office career.
#4: Keep the head coach?
Peter Laviolette’s offensive-driven schemes didn’t work this season. Despite that fact, he deserves a chance to return in the fall and does have two guaranteed years remaining on his contract.
With a deeper roster, ‘Lavy’ can lead the Flyers back to the postseason next spring. However, he’ll need to start quick in order to avoid an early-season coaching replacement.
#3: Amnesty one player, or two?
The reasons why Danny Briere will almost certainly receive an amnesty buyout include money, age and other forward line options.
A deep digital analysis of the salary cap isn’t need to know that the other potential buyout centers upon one name: Ilya Bryzgalov. To use both amnesty options in one summer is a gamble. But, that’s the problem with giving someone such a massive contract.
There wasn’t enough time to decide if Steve Mason can be handed the goaltending reigns next fall. So, to assume that he’s the new number 1 is wrong.
Mason is at least a 20-30 game backup and might become Bryzgalov’s platoon partner next year depending upon both men’s performances. We also mustn’t forget that Laviolette has opted for a goalie platoon at various points in his coaching career.
The answer to this amnesty question is difficult and one that may have repercussions for many seasons to come, regardless of what decisions Paul Holmgren makes.
#2 What about Bryzgalov?
Connected to the previous question are the ongoing issues surrounding ‘Bryz’.
It’s highly unlikely that the veteran will change his on-ice, or off-ice, performance any time soon and that’s crucial to keep in mind. While Bryzgalov has played well during certain stretches of time, it can’t be said that he’s been the best player on the team during each of his first two seasons.
Stanley Cups have been and can be won without a Vezina Trophy, or Conn Smythe Trophy winner in net. However, the man between the pipes must be trusted by his teammates and can’t be the source of dissension.
At this point in his career it’s fair to ask if a question mark will always be at the end of almost every sentence written about Bryzgalov?
#1: Who stands behind the blue line?
The performances of many young defenders was very encouraging down the stretch this season. The potential of Oliver Lauridsen, Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning could enable Holmgren to simply seek one impact defender this summer.
A few months ago it appeared as though he needed to add a veteran offensive-minded and a veteran defensive-minded defenseman to the squad. As of now, a veteran puck-carrying defenseman might be all that he needs to obtain.
Kimmo Timonen still has game and remains a valuable member of the defensive contingent heading into the last year of his contract, which was recently extended through 2013-14.
Luke Schenn proved to be a solid addition and was worth the loss of James van Riemsdyk.
The future health status of Andrej Meszaros seems murky at the moment, so we’ll have to wait until next season to see if he can return to the team.
Based upon the amount of money each player earns and the previously mentioned emergence of younger D-men, Braydon Coburn, or Nicklas Grossmann, could be trade candidates this offseason.
A complete review of the offense deserves it’s own set of questions and will be presented in the near future.
More from this author and the Yahoo Contributor Network:
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Sean O’Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He was a print sports writer for five years. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his blog Insight.