Finally, the upcoming 2017 NHL Draft is around the corner. In less than two weeks we will find out if the Philadelphia Flyers draft Nico or Nolan. This draft is ramping up to be something special for the Flyers and their fans.
There has been one glaring hole missing from the Flyers offense for the past few seasons. Size, size, size. Moreover, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are just two successful teams in the NHL, who are aided by their big skilled wingers. It adds another dimension to their offensive system.
Hopefully this draft will help ease some of the scoring problems that have plagued the Flyers for the past few seasons. Without further delay, let’s take a deeper look into the numbers from the past few seasons.
At the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, the Flyers offense was ranked 22nd out of 30 teams in the NHL. The Flyers scored 214 goals for, with allowing 218 goals against. This was good for a whopping scoring differential of -4. If you look up and down the lineup the Flyers had many skilled players with little size. They enjoyed the likes of Claude Giroux, Michael Raffl, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier.
In terms of the wingers for the 2015-16 season, the Flyers missed size arguably more than any other intangible. They lacked a player with size that could score more on the flanks. The Flyers wingers had the likes of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Who filled in as a fourth line center), Matt Read, Taylor Leier (At times), Simmonds, Voracek, Raffl, and Schenn (For the most part, even though he’s a center).
For the 2016-17 season, the Flyers offense endured the same struggles as the previous year. The Flyers offense was ranked 20th out of 30 teams in the NHL. For the season the Flyers scored 219 goals for, while allowing 236 goals against. This was good for a -17 scoring differential. They were very inconsistent in terms of scoring on a nightly basis. One game they would dominate with a ton of goals, and the next game they would putter.
The Flyers were only able to improve their scoring from the prior year by a measly five goals. This is just not good enough to make a deep run into the playoffs. These numbers are good enough to be on the fringe of making the playoffs, or barely getting into them. However, if the Flyers want to be a contender for years to come, then they have to get wingers with more size.
In terms of wingers for the 2016-17 season, the Flyers again lacked that beef. Skill was not a problem, with the likes of Simmonds, Voracek, Raffl, Schenn (For the most part), Read, Bellemare, Leier (At times), Voracek, Jordan Weal (Mid way through the year), Travis Konecny, Dale Weise, and Roman Lyubimov.
Weise and Voracek were the biggest wingers that year. Voracek was the biggest winger on the roster, as he stands at 6’2, 214 pounds. Weise was the second biggest winger standing at 6’2, 206 pounds. Simmonds was flat out great all year and stands at 6’2, 185 pounds. Although Voracek and Simmonds had good years, they could have possibly been better with another skilled winger with size.
To further evaluate this point let’s take a look at two successful playoff teams in the NHL, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Pittsburgh Penguins. As previously stated, both teams have been successful thanks in large part to their skilled, big wingers.
One big skilled winger on the Ducks is Nick Ritchie, who stands at 6’2, 230 pounds. In his rookie campaign for the 2016-17 season, he registered 14 goals, and 14 assists for a total of 28 points in 77 games played. He was given the nickname the “Playoff Bull,” after registering a key goal against the Nashville Predators in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The Ducks of course lost to the Predators, but for the playoffs Ritchie registered 4 goals, 0 assists for a total of 4 points in 15 games played.
Lastly, a Penguins big skilled winger is no other than Phil Kessel, who is well known to Flyers fans. Kessel stands at 6’0, 202 pounds. For the 2016-17 season, he garnered 23 goals and 47 assists for a total of 70 points in 82 games played. For the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he registered 8 goals and 15 assists for a total of 23 points in 25 games played. With Kessel’s assistance the Penguins won the Stanley Cup this past Sunday night.
Make no mistake about it, the Flyers are on the right path for long-term success with how deep their farm system is. This is thanks in large part to the job that General Manager Ron Hextall has done. With that in mind, we can have faith that Hextall understands this area of concern within the Flyers offense, and hopefully this draft can provide immediate relief into this glaring hole of the Flyers offense. One thing is certain this is a great time to be a Flyer fan.
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports