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Flyers talented up front but scrambling on D

by Corey Masisak

For all of the plaudits earned from dismantling their rivals in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers are likely still smarting from a second-round defeat just days later.

Claude Giroux became a superstar and Scott Hartnell one of the top power forwards in the League, but the New Jersey Devils ended the Flyers' potential Stanley Cup run, and the offseason in Philadelphia brought more questions than answers.

Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle are gone after signing elsewhere as free agents. James van Riemsdyk was traded for Luke Schenn to help bolster the depth on defense -- but the deal has also left the forwards a little thin if there are injuries. There are already injuries to deal with on the back end.

2012-13 Flyers Fantasy Team Preview

Under-valued: Jakub Voracek - With Jaromir Jagr in Dallas, Voracek will get first crack at starting on the top line with Giroux and Hartnell -- this should result in a career-year after posting 18 goals and 49 points with a plus-11 last season.

Over-valued: Braydon Coburn - Solid real-life defenseman hardly helps fantasy owners -- notched 24 points last season (most since 2008-09) with none on the power play and only 113 shots on goal.

Sleeper: Brayden Schenn - Had a quiet regular season with 12 goals, 18 points and a minus-seven in 54 games, but erupted in playoffs with nine points in 11 contests. Should start the year as a top-six forward and has potential for a major breakout season.

-- Follow Matt Cubeta on Twitter: @NHLQubes

Ruslan Fedotenko was added -- like Max Talbot the year before, he brings with him a strong postseason pedigree. Bruno Gervais was signed and could earn a spot on the team's third defense pairing.

Then there is Ilya Bryzgalov. He was brought in as the final piece on a potentially great team last season, but now he's going to be counted on to help keep an elite team from slipping backwards. He makes the Flyers' destiny a wide range of possibilities, both good and bad.


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Wayne Simmonds - Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere

Ruslan Fedotenko - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Eric Wellwood - Maxime Talbot - Zac Rinaldo

Jody Shelley


Kimmo Timonen - Nicklas Grossmann

Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn

Erik Gustafsson - Bruno Gervais

Marc-Andre Bourdon


Ilya Bryzgalov

Michael Leighton

NOTES: The forward group could be set, provided all the guys who are set for increased roles take to them. Read or Fedotenko could end up in the top six if Voracek or Simmonds slump, and Talbot could end up on the third line if needed. There's not a lot of NHL-caliber depth beyond those first 12 forwards, though.

With Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja injured and Chris Pronger's availability in serious doubt, the Flyers could still be looking to add another defenseman. Brandon Manning will also be among those trying to earn a spot at the back end of Philadelphia's depth chart.

Plenty has already been said about Bryzgalov's turbulent first season in Philadelphia, but he could mask some other issues with a better campaign. He'll likely get plenty of work, because the Flyers decided against upgrading behind him -- instead dealing Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets and retaining Leighton to be the backup.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

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