It might be too soon for Philadelphia Flyers fans to say that the team is going to get even more menacing next season, especially just a few days after their first-round elimination at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is true though, the Flyers have managed to prove they are a true Cup contender.
We can't have the same speech for Buffalo Sabres fans. For them, it seems quite easy to complain about the disappointing season, the lack of production and the ongoing failed rebuilding process still taking place with the team. However, if we put on our pink glasses and look at the positive things around the corner, the Sabres are entering Saturday's draft lottery with the best odds to land young phenom defenseman Rasmus Dahlin this summer.
There is some positive to celebrate. There are also several changes to expect in the offseason. One element that everyone loves to talk about his the future of outspoken starting goalie Robin Lehner with the club. Buffalo News' John Vogl recently examined the Sabres options if they decide to pass on re-signing RFA goaltender Robin Lehner in favor of promoting Linus Ullmark as their starting netminder. Vogl even went on to sat that he believes Sabres general manager Jason Botterill “hardly made it sound like a contract was coming” for Lehner.
"We're very excited about Linus Ullmark being one of our two goalies next year, and we'll make a decision in the next couple months what will be the other goalie in that situation," Botterill said.
Here is why the Flyers need to come back into this discussion. While Michal tried his best to come back into the first-round series to play the hero for Philadelphia, the team's instability in between the pipes is, according to many, what cost them the series. Both he and Brian Elliott still have a year remaining on their current contracts with the Flyers, but general manager Ron Hextall might still be looking for a better option in net throughout the summer. Lehner a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Sabres could shop him before the June draft and the Flyers are expected to at least be interested in making a move with them. If not, the Flyers could gamble and wait for him to hit the free-agent market...
Buffalo might otherwise fill the goaltending spot via unrestricted free agency, as options include St. Louis’ Carter Hutton, Boston’s Anton Khudobin, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier, Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, Florida’s Harri Sateri, the New York Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak, Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson and Carolina’s Cam Ward.
Clearly, it doesn’t appear as though the Sabres intend on re-signing Chad Johnson. Vogl also wonders if Toronto Maple Leafs' Garrett Sparks might be available in a potential trade between both teams.
The Flyers might be proud of having clinched a playoff spot, but you can bet they will do everything they can to make it to later rounds next season.