Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Flyers haven't been the same emerging threat since moving on from Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and the current roster is one big mystery. Are they a new emerging contender, or a batch of misfits?
The Philadelphia Flyers could be just about anything this year. They've gone from a promising team on the rise that went to the Cup final in the Jeff Carter-Mike Richards era to one of the most convoluted collection of players in the NHL.
For instance, it's intriguing to think of what Vincent Lecavalier could bring to this club. He's not the 108-point scorer he was in 2006-07 and never will be again. He has had point per game averages of .85, .83, .77 and .82 the past four years, which isn't bad, unless you're getting paid $10 million and costing $7.7 million against the cap.
He looked good in his first game as a Flyer and created the team's first goal of the season off a beautiful assist.
The problem is that Lecavalier hasn't been healthy for a full season since 2009-10. He's missed 17, 18 and nine games the past three seasons, but that didn't stop the Flyers from signing him up for a five-year term. Because the Flyers sign everybody.
Another example is Steve Mason, former Calder winner-turned Columbus castoff. His numbers have hovered around the .900 SP for four years and the Flyers defense is much worse than the Blue Jackets', who've only ever made the post-season once.
There's also Ray Emery, who will surely get the second start in net for Philadelphia. He was 17-1 for the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks last season, but only won 15 of his 28 decisions with a .900 SP in Chicago the year before. Who knows what the Flyers will get from him?
Jakub Voracek had a career season over 48 games, while Scott Hartnell, at 31, either had a down year, or started to show some age. What is Brayden Schenn? The only constants on the team seem to be Claude Giroux's brilliance and the blueline's unsteady makeup.
Hovering over all of this is Peter Laviolette's future. The race to first coach fired in Philadelphia this fall is on between him and Chip Kelly of the NFL's Eagles.
If their first game of the season is any indication - a 3-1 loss to Toronto - this could be another messy year. We're not about to write them off after one game, but when a fresh team is as flat as the Flyers were at home against a tired Maple Leafs squad, there has to be some "uh-oh" feeling inside.
The major, questionable overhaul of the roster two years ago is still having a very negative effect, while the former core moved on to win the Cup they couldn't in orange and black. The Kings had patience and struck, while the Flyers' impatience set them back a few years - and maybe more than a few.
What are the Flyers, you ask?
Who knows - but they're off on the wrong foot.