The Philadelphia Flyers season ended last Sunday in appropriate fashion. A 4-3 shootout loss against the division rival Carolina Hurricanes. The Flyers showed grit, heart and a glimpse into the future during the game, but it was also a snapshot of their entire season. They played well enough to win, but still found a way to lose. Although the Flyers missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, there were some positives to come out of the season. Here is a look back at the forwards for the 2016-17 Flyers.
What Went Right:
Wayne Simmonds had another big year. He was the Flyers lone All Star and came away with the MVP of the game. He hit the 30 goal mark for the second consecutive season, finishing the season with 31. He also developed into an effective penalty killer playing with Sean Couturier on the second unit.
Brayden Schenn had another solid season, finishing with 25 goals (17 on the power play). Although a healthy scratch for too many games, rookie Travis Konecney had a solid first campaign finishing with 11 goals and 28 points showing the speed and creativity that is going to make him a force as he develops into a complete player.
The surprise jewel of the season was the development of Jordan Weal. Although he spent the better part of the season in the AHL, Weal came to the Flyers in February and brought a spark to the team. He brings a fearlessness every night even for a player listed at only 5’10”. Weal developed some nice chemistry on the first line with Claude Giroux and the most exciting part is that we may have only touched the surface.
What Went Wrong:
The forwards as a whole struggled with defensive zone coverage. Jake Voracek finished the season with a team worst -24 plus minus rating. The team improved defensively during the last couple months of the season, but unfortunately it was too little too late.
Giroux had a down year by his standards and for the third year in a row his point total dropped. From the highs of an 86 during the 2013-14 season, to 58 this season. It’s not the points that are as concerning as it is his total of 14 goals on the season. Giroux stirs the offensive drink for the forwards. Perhaps feeling the effects of offseason surgery, he appeared to lack the extra gear that the great players all possess. Having a full offseason will help the captain return to his normal form in 2017-18.
Overall, this is a group that still has a lot of untapped potential. The Flyers have a wealth of young prospects who will be chomping at the bit to take a veterans job. The development of Konecney and Weal along with Union College standout and Hobey Baker finalist Mike Vecchione has to give Flyers fans a reason for hope.
This was all just their first taste of the NHL. Add in 2016 first round pick German Rubstov and Swede Oskar Lindblom and the forward group begins to shine a bit brighter. The young guns along with the return to form of the captain gives the Flyers reason for optimism for next season.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports