Former Flyer and current NHL hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick spoke with Comcast SportsNet's Al Morganti on Wednesday on the state of the Flyers during their so-far fairly quiet offseason.
Roenick, who was attending the American Century Celebrity Classic golf tournament with former Eagle Herman Edwards, discussed the the Flyers' chances of winning the Stanley Cup given their current makeup.
If they're going to win the Cup, Roenick believes they'll have to do it with a different goaltender.
"I like Steve Mason," Roenick said on Philly Sports Talk, "but I don’t think Steve Mason is the answer to winning a Stanley Cup."
Mason posted a 33-18-7 record, .917 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average in his first full year with the Flyers. The 26-year-old once won the Calder Memorial Trophy, in 2008-09, as the league's rookie of the year with the Blue Jackets. But he regressed in his next three and a half seasons before Columbus eventually shipped him to the Flyers for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick.
"I think you need an upper echelon defenseman, I think you need an upper echelon goaltender," Roenick said. "The Flyers do not have [either].
"I think that’s something that you’re going to have to look at in terms of improving your team."
In January, the Flyers inked Mason to a three-year contract extension worth $12.3 million -- a safe investment for the club if Mason turns out not to be the answer, as Roenick predicts.
"He was a starter at one time," Roenick said. "He became a backup and has moved a couple of times, and now he’s in Philly as another starter."
Mason also has limited postseason experience. He's 2-6 lifetime in the playoffs with a .907 save percentage and 3.11 GAA. He posted a 2-2 record in net, including a loss in Game 7, as the Flyers fell to the Rangers in the first round of last year's playoffs.
Roenick, who played three seasons for the Flyers from 2001-04, had some other opinions on how the current team is constructed:
On Hextall as the new GM:
"It’s a great move to put Ron Hextall into that GM spot. I’m a big (Paul) Holmgren fan, no question about that, but you have Ron Hextall who helped build part of the L.A. Kings and had that mentality of a championship team.
"We all know what kind of player that Ron Hextall was and his competitive level. You put him in a GM spot where he’s already learned from a very good Dean Lombardi GM out in L.A., and you put him in his home, a place where he feels very passionate about and something he really wants to make strong.
"I think it’s a great move and I think that Ron Hextall’s going to do a great job in that situation. I think he’s going to continue that mentality and that Philly mentality that Holmgren has brought on, that Craig Berube has brought on as the head coach."
On building through the draft instead of free agency:
"I think Philly has the core to be able to do that. They have their star player in Claude Giroux -- I still think he still should have won the MVP trophy, but that’s just me. They have the right nucleus to bring young players along. Don’t get me wrong, they’re going to need to go out and find a couple free agents that are going to fill certain spots, but they have the ability to have a little patience to bring along some players.
"I think their pick this year in the draft was a good pick. I think [Travis Sanheim] can be a very good player in the National Hockey League. They’re going to have to make sure they tutor him extremely well and bring him along properly but it’s not a bad play."
On the defense:
"I’m a true believer that I think the game has kind of bypassed the big, strong, burly defenseman that really can’t move too well. And I think the Philadelphia Flyers have been that type of team that put big defensemen back there to protect goaltenders.
"This is a game of speed, quickness and transition, and they need more guys that can maneuver and guys that have more agility back there that can carry the play rather than the big strong guys. It’ll be interesting to see how they transition that after Kimmo finishes his career here."
"I think that Vinny LeCavalier would be a tough, tough sell because of his contract. You have teams like Montreal that could be interested in somebody like Vinny LeCavalier that have a little size, a little goal scoring ability that maybe could take over that contract."
"They got rid of Scott Hartnell this summer -- I questioned that one a little bit.
"R.J. Umberger is a good player, but it’s kind of like a tit-for-tat sort of situation. I thought Scott Hartnell had a good rapport with the guys in the locker room. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out."