The Flyers Stay or Go results are in, and it’s clear that Flyers fans have a lot of faith in head coach Peter Laviolette and the rookie forwards, but absolutely no faith in the veterans and defensemen.
Despite the unsuccessful shortened season under Laviolette, roughly 77 percent of voters did not blame him for the team’s poor performance this season. However, voters are not happy with longtime general manager Paul Holmgren. A little more than half of the voters (56.4 percent) want Holmgren gone.
Due to the new NHL collective bargaining agreement, teams have the chance to buy out two players' contracts. It’s clear from fans' votes that they hope starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (75.8 percent go) and veteran forward Danny Briere (70.3 percent) both are amnestied in the offseason.
The problem with getting rid of Bryzgalov is that then the Flyers are left without a starting goaltender. Voters are pretty confident that Steve Mason could be the starter since 97.3 percent want the backup to stay. This makes sense, but Mason has only played seven games with the Flyers. He has not proven himself to be a starting goaltender yet. Getting rid of Bryzgalov only makes sense because his huge contract has forced the Flyers over the salary cap. However, doing so would put the team in a bad situation where they would be on the search for another starting goaltender.
Briere had one of the worst seasons in his career, so fans are pretty on target with wanting to get rid of the veteran player. Due to his no-trade clause, the only way to get rid of Briere is by amnestying his contract.
Fans are pretty confident in the majority of this team despite having one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. Fans voted for the core top line to stay in tact, by showing faith in captain Claude Giroux (96.7 percent stay), superstar goalscorer Jakub Voracek (98.1 percent) and rising star Matt Read (90.5 percent). Fans also insist linemates Brayden Schenn (83.3 percent stay) and Wayne Simmonds (95.4 percent) stay with the team.
Max Talbot (73.1 percent stay) and Simon Gagne (73.1 percent) also look to be staying with the Flyers, but considering their veteran status they could become movable pieces to help the team get a solid defenseman.
Despite the sophomore slump, about 83 percent of voters want to keep Sean Couturier. Almost 85 percent also voted to keep improving young forward Zac Rinaldo. Holmgren refused to give up Couturier all season long, so he will most likely keep his spot on the roster. Rinaldo’s role with the team evolved this season, as he started drawing penalties more than taking them, so also expect Holmgren to keep the gritty tough guy.
Flyers rookies were also getting some love, fans seemed to be enamored with AHL callup Tye McGinn, who went back and forth between the Flyers and the Adirondack Phantoms all season. He showed a lot of potential and the 81.4 percent who want to keep him on the team might be on to something.
Almost 90 percent of voters also want to keep newly-drafted prospect Scott Laughton. Laughton is set to stay on, but the Flyers may want to send him down to the Phantoms to develop more before giving him a full spot on their roster. He will likely become a key asset to the team in the years to come.
Flyers fans picked out the team’s top defensemen by voting Kimmo Timonen (79.4 percent), Luke Schenn (94.5 percent), Erik Gustafsson (88.3 percent) and Nicklas Grossmann (86 percent) to return to the blueline next season. Having had relative success this season, these four are likely to remain.
AHL callups Brandon Manning (74.9 percent stay) and Oliver Lauridsen (92.4 percent) really wowed fans this season as well. Lauridsen is a big, emerging defenseman that will do wonders for the team in the years to come. Manning is also up-and-coming on the blueline, but he has a discipline problem as he tends to take a lot of penalties. They probably won't get permanent spots on the roster, and will likely return to the AHL next season.
The biggest surprise from the polls is that fans actually want to keep Braydon Coburn (56 percent stay) and Scott Hartnell (58.6 percent). Both veterans were mediocre this year, but fans have faith that they can overcome their obstacles next season. Or maybe they can be lined up as good trade pieces.
So now that we know which players fans want the Flyers to keep, looking at the most disliked players should not be a surprise.
Most-hated Flyer Jody Shelley had a whopping 96.6 percent of voters wanting him to leave the team. Shelley only played one game this season and was on the injury reserve, so it's not like he had a huge impact. Roughly 93 percent of voters are also calling for Andreas Lilja's departure. Lilja was sent down to the minors this season, so he could be on his way out.
Fans were also not impressed with reacquiring old Flyers blood. Roughly 74 percent of voters want Ruslan Fedotenko out and even more want Mike Knuble (85.9 percent) to go with him. Fedotenko started to find his game toward the end of the season so it’s probable that the Flyers will stick with him for some extra offensive depth. As for Knuble, there was a reason he was playing in the AHL before the team re-signed him.
The lackluster defense has also been a huge problem for the Flyers for years, but this season it really came to a head. Fans really do not like Kurtis Foster (83.1 percent go) or Bruno Gervais (79 percent). It’s also not that surprising that perpetually-injured Andrej Meszaros had 59 percent of voters wanting him to go as well.
However, in a pretty surprising near split, 50.5 percent of voters wanted newly-acquired blueliner Kent Huskins to go. I suspect this has to do with the fact that fans don’t really know what to think about Huskins yet. He only played eight games this season and scored one point. The team will likely keep him to see what more he can do next season.
Based on the polls, fans are still unsure what to make of newcomers Jay Rosehill and Adam Hall. Roughly 66 percent want both Rosehill and Hall to stay. They haven't made too much of an impact, unless you count penalty minutes, so maybe the Flyers could do without them.
Based on these results, it's clear that voters want the Flyers to make some huge changes to their defense. This should not be a surprise, since the patchwork defense was at the core of the team's failures this season. Fans are crying for Bryzgalov's release, but since he is the starter the Flyers will most likely stick with the outspoken goaltender.