Player Movement The most significant off-season player move was the return of Dominik Hasek from retirement. Hasek regarded as the best player ever at his position took a one-year hiatus from hockey. His return bodes well for the Flyers in two ways, one, it allows the young tandem of Gerber and Noronen one more year to develop and two, gives the team hope of playoff glory. With the retirement of Barrasso and Hasekâ€™s return, expect Arturs Irbe to be dealt or waived. There was no other significant player movement in the off-season, although it wasnâ€™t from a lack of trying. The Flyers wanted to move a few quality assets but to date have not been successful. Watch for them to trade a couple of their top players before the year is out, especially if the team gets off to a tough start. Coaching The Flyers have one of the games best in Jacques Lemaire. Jacques teaches responsible hockey but does not put the shackles on the offensive players in the opposition zone. Look for more scoring this year as the young guys up front are one year older and more mature. Finances The Flyers have been under severe cash restrictions the last few years. After depleting their cash reserves three years back, they finally have a financial plan in place, which should lead them to profitability in 2003-04. Things would have been a lot better had they advanced another round but fell in the second round for the 3rd consecutive year after been one win away from advancing each of those years. Forwards The Flyers boast a lot of young talent but to date only Simon Gagne has shown superstar potential. Mike Fisher is going to be a tremendous power forward. Breakthrough Players Mike Fisher is poised for a breakthrough season. A younger version of Mike Peca, Fisher is the heart and soul of this team. The feisty leader has some major league offensive skill to go along with his strong defensive and physical play. Dainius Zubrus The Flyers are still waiting on Zubrus to produce the offensive numbers he is capable of producing. Zubrus has all the physical attributes required to become a star but due to a number of reasons hasnâ€™t broken through. The Flyers feel this will be his year. Although teams always approach the Flyers about Zubrus, donâ€™t expect him to be involved in any deal. Veterans Radek Bonk has to be one of the most underrated players in hockey. Bonk normally lines up across the other teams top line, shuts them down and has time to score his own goals. Expect more of the same from this veteran. Whereâ€™s the Production Gone Radek Dvorak The Flyers continue to scratch their head when it comes to Radek Dvorak. The slick European flies up and down the wing, creates scoring opportunities but never seems to finish off the chances anymore. The question is will he this year? Tim Connelly The skills are there, his hockey sense is not. Up the Grapevine The Flyers are extremely optimistic with the group of front coming from their farm system. They have been extremely patient and they feel that they are one year away from reaping awards for their patience. Fredrik Sojstrom After a disappointing first year in NA, Fredrik picked up the pace last year and showed he could be a number one centre in the NHL one day. Alex Perizhogin Alex shows an amazing amount of talent on the ice. This heady Russian was great at the world juniors and proved the cupboard is not bare in Russiaâ€™s hockey development system. Jonas Johansson Was leading the minors in rookie scoring and was in the top 10 overall before his knee injury. The Flyers are confident the surgery and rehab went well and that Jonas can resume his career where he left off. Jordin Tootoo Although not as offensively gifted us some of the other Flyer prospects, Tootooâ€™s impact could be just as significant. Tootoo is a tough as nails hockey player. Donâ€™t let his short stature deceive you. He hits like a Mack truck and has enough hockey skills to score 25-30 goals say NHL scouts. His reckless abandon gets underneath the oppositionâ€™s skin and provides energy to his club. A fan favourite everywhere heâ€™s been, Tootoo will contribute to the big club this year. The Defense The Flyers still have one of the games best defensive core. Mattius Ohlund, Mike Rathje, Kim Johnsson and Sami Salo provide mobility, offensive skill and good defense. Kaspariatis provides depth. Breakthrough Players Mattius Ohlund Mattius finally rebounded last year from his eye injury a few years back and displayed the skills that many predict will one day bring him the Norris Trophy. Ohlund, 26 blossomed last year, playing the best hockey of his career. He logged a lot of minutes, played on the 1st line PP and PK unit and was on the ice in most critical situations. Sami Salo After many injury prone years, Sami Salo stayed healthy and showed the hockey world what he could do when healthy. Salo is a bohemeth on the ice. His 6â€™3â€ frame is imposing. He is quick for a big man and has one of the NHLâ€™s hardest shot. You will hear a lot more of Sami this year. Veterans Mike Rathje has settled down into one of hockeyâ€™s best defensive players. Rathje is huge. He stands 6â€™5â€ and 230 pounds and when he uses his size he dominates his own end of the rink. Mike's only downfall is consistency. Once he finds it, he will be feared. Whereâ€™s the Production Gone Darius Kasparaitis Darius need to rebound from a poor year. When on his game, he is one of the toughest defenseman in the league. If the Flyers can help him focus, their defense will be much improved. Up the Grapevine Tim Gleason Involved in the Bondra trade to Dallas, the Flyers have been waiting to unleash Gleason to the rest of the hockey world. Gleason had the size, skill and competitiveness to have a brilliant career. His immaturity has disappointed some hockey pundits but the Flyers are certain that they have a future all-star in Gleason. Paul Brown Selected in the 2nd round of the OHL draft several years back, Paul has consistently flown under the radar screen. That is probably due to his unaggressive style of play. Paul though, does not lack hockey skill. He is an agile and quick defenseman who can play both ends of the ice well. An underage player, Paul is starting to develop into a top prospect. In fact, at the junior All-Stars skill competition, he beat out fellow prospects Jay Bouwmeester in agility competitions. In the Crease Dominik Hasek The franchise is back. Dominik Hasek has returned and the Flyers couldnâ€™t be happier. Although the two goalie system of Barrasso and Irbe worked in last yearâ€™s regular season, if failed miserably in round two of the playoffs. Hasek return allows the Flyers to unload Irbeâ€™s contract and bring Gerber and Noronen along slowly. Up the Grapevine Martin Gerber The imposing Gerber is ready to show his stuff but will have to wait at least another year before he gets significant playing time. Mika Noronen Once dubbed the best player playing outside North America, Mika has struggled since coming over. He has shown flashes of what the scouts saw but needs more seasoning. The Draft The Flyers had what seemed to be a successful draft. With two number one picks, the Flyersâ€™ chose under-aged centres Dan Frische and talented defenseman Brent Seabrooke. Frische was almost one year younger than most draftees were, which bodes well for the Flyers. His stock dropped in the draft due to concerns about his shoulder problems. However, those injuries seem to be behind him, and if they are, the Flyers have found themselves a gem. Forecast The Flyers will once again play a staunch defensive game backed up by great goaltending. Theyâ€™ll likely finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference but could surprise in the playoffs if Hasek regains his form after a one year retirement. If the Flyers start out slowly, look for them to clean house and move proven veterans such as Bonk, Ohlund, Kaspariatis and Hasek.