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NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

30 in 30: Change in goal difference in Flyers lineup

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Last season was one to forget for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Injuries, ineffective play and the ongoing saga with Ilya Bryzgalov, even if he was playing well at times, played a part in the Flyers crashing out of contention and missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.

After years of low-salary goaltenders, the Flyers splurged on Bryzgalov but terminated that relationship this summer, two seasons into a nine-year, $51 million contract. Now Philadelphia is back to not spending much on a chronic problem, in part because there wasn't much NHL salary-cap space left to allocate.

Ray Emery had a fine season as the backup in Chicago, and he was signed to compete with Steve Mason in net. Mark Streit doesn't solve the problem of Philadelphia's aging defense, but he should make the unit better. Danny Briere signed with the Montreal Canadiens and Vincent Lecavalier was added essentially as his replacement.

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30 in 30: Laughton heads Flyers' list of prospects

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

While the Philadelphia Flyers are a team that in their past has invested heavily in free agency, they never have been shy about letting a young player earn a roster spot.

The team's previous three first-round picks (Scott Laughton, 2012; Sean Couturier, 2011; Luca Sbisa, 2008) all made their NHL debuts as 18-year-olds.

Can Samuel Morin, the 11th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, make it 4-for-4? That decision will come in training camp. And it will be a camp with a few more young players set to make impacts and give the team's decision-makers some headaches when it comes to setting the roster for the 2013-14 season.

Here is a look at the Flyers' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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30 in 30: Flyers add veterans, expect better season

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Back in July, on the day the Philadelphia Flyers introduced their three biggest offseason signings, chairman Ed Snider was asked if his team was better with the additions of defenseman Mark Streit, goalie Ray Emery and center Vincent Lecavalier.

"You don't add three terrific players like that without getting better," Snider said. "We're better, no question about it."

There might be no question in the mind of the Flyers' founding father, but others might not be so sure.

In the summer of 2011 the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51.5 million contract in the hope he could be the undisputed long-term answer to the never-ending goaltending question in Philadelphia. Instead, he turned out to be what general manager Paul Holmgren called a "costly mistake," and in June the Flyers used one of their compliance buyouts to terminate the final seven years of Bryzgalov's deal. They'll pay him more than $1.6 million not to play in Philadelphia this season, or about the same amount they'll pay Emery to split time in net with Steve Mason.

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30 in 30: Flyers' questions involve goalies, defense

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It's been 38 years since Bernie Parent skated with the Stanley Cup, and more than 25 years since Ron Hextall won the Vezina Trophy.

So it's been about that long that fans have been asking what the deal is with Philadelphia Flyers' goaltenders.

However, who the main man in net will be in Philadelphia is just one of a few questions facing the Flyers this season, as they look to show last season's 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference was just a blip on the radar.

Here are six questions facing the Flyers:

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30 in 30: Rebound by Couturier is Flyers' X-factor

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Sean Couturier's first two NHL seasons could not have been more different. The question facing the Philadelphia Flyers and their 20-year-old center as he enters his third is which version is closest to the real thing.

Couturier, selected by the Flyers with the eighth pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, made the team as an 18-year-old. By the end of the season, he had developed into their best defensive center, capable of playing against the opposition's top players.

The best example came in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Couturier blanketed and frequently frustrated Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, holding that season's Art Ross Trophy winner to eight points in six games in the teams' first-round series, with three of those points in one game.

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30 in 30: Kristo leads list of Rangers prospects

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers have done an outstanding job of developing their prospects and turning them into major NHL contributors: Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin among them.

Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller, the team's first-round NHL Draft picks from 2009 and 2011, were integrated into the roster last season and likely will continue on that path in 2013-14. In light of that, and the veteran defensive corps that is one of the team's strengths, it's unlikely too many prospects will be skating at Madison Square Garden this season.

Here's a look at New York's top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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30 in 30: Rangers expect improvement under Vigneault

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Entering the 2012-13 NHL season, expectations couldn't have been higher for the New York Rangers. Coming off a season when they finished first in the East and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, they enhanced their lineup over that summer with the acquisition of forward Rick Nash.

Despite being an early Stanley Cup favorite, the Rangers occasionally struggled to find traction last season. But a strong finish and an offseason coaching change have the club poised to make a run in 2013-14.

Nash did his part last season, scoring 21 goals and 42 points in 44 games. The Rangers went 0-3-1 in the four games he missed due to injury. The offense and power play struggled for long stretches, but the team got hot at the perfect time. They were 10-3-1 in April and went more than a month without losing at Madison Square Garden.

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30 in 30: Power play among Rangers questions

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

On paper, a lot of things appeared to go right for the New York Rangers last season. They improved down the stretch and overcame injuries to finish second in the Atlantic Division before knocking off the NHL's hottest team, the Washington Capitals, in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But the Rangers were overmatched against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, bowing out in five games to the eventual conference champions. That second-round defeat spotlighted some deficiencies on a team that has all-star talent throughout its roster. Those problems ultimately cost coach John Tortorella his job.

With former Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault now in charge, there are questions surrounding a team with a roster as compelling as any in the League. Here are six:

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30 in 30: Season from Brassard X-factor for Rangers

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the New York Rangers traded wing Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets at last season's deadline, there was surprise that an Original Six team would part with one of the NHL's top scorers.

But the Rangers got back some important pieces, notably center Derick Brassard, who almost immediately became the Rangers' most consistent offensive force.

With a spot centering the Rangers' second line and able to enter free agency next summer, this could be a big year for the Quebec native. Brassard's play could dictate how much the offense improves on a team that last season ranked 15th in the NHL in goals scored.

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30 in 30: Rangers lineup waiting on Callahan, Hagelin

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers have become regulars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, something that wasn't the case despite high payrolls before the salary-cap era.

John Tortorella is gone to the Vancouver Canucks, and Alain Vigneault has arrived in what essentially became a swap of coaches. Brad Richards is still here after much speculation his contract might be bought out.

After a pair of major trades with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, most of the Rangers team that reached the second round before being brushed aside by the Boston Bruins returns. Ryane Clowe proved to be a rental, moving across the river to the New Jersey Devils.

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My job was to get that puck and put it on net, and his job was not letting me do it. I got the best of that, but that game's over and to be honest I already forgot about it.

— Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on his late game-tying goal in Montreal's 2-1 OT win
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