Finally, the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft is around the corner. In less than a month, we will find out if Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers keep the 11th-overall pick to add to their stockpile of young prospects, or does Fletcher trade the 11th pick? This draft is ramping up to be something special for the Flyers and their faithful fanbase.
There has been one glaring hole missing from the Flyers offense for the past few seasons. Size, size, size. Moreover, the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks are just two successful teams in the NHL, who are aided by their big skilled players. It just adds another dimension to their offensive system, and look where both of these teams ended up. Size also helps to not get pushed off the puck. If the Flyers want to take the next step next season, they cannot wait for an Isaac Ratcliffe or Matthew Strome. The time is now to make this team a consistent hockey team.
At the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, the Flyers offense was ranked 11th out of 31 teams in the NHL. The Flyers scored 249 goals for, with allowing 236 goals against. This was good for a whopping scoring differential of +13. If you look up and down the lineup the Flyers had many skilled players with little size, and they were also very inconsistent. They enjoyed the likes of Claude Giroux, Michael Raffl, Travis Konecny, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, and Nolan Patrick.
For the 2018-19 season, the Flyers offense endured the same inconsistencies as the previous year. The Flyers offense was ranked 18th out of 31 teams in the NHL. For the season, the Flyers scored 241 goals, while allowing 280 goals against. This was good for a -39 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 only players over 200 pounds or more offensively were Voracek, Couturier, JVR, and Justin Bailey.
The Flyers offense was actually worse from the prior year by a wide margin. Of course, there were multiple factors that plagued this team (Coaching, a new GM). However, these numbers are just not good enough to make the NHL playoffs these days. If the Flyers want to be a contender for years to come, then they have to get a player or two with more size.
To further evaluate this point, let’s take a look at two successful playoff teams in the NHL, the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks. As previously stated, both teams have been successful thanks in large part to their skilled, big wingers.
One big skilled winger on the Blues is Vladimir Tarasenko, who stands at 6’0, 225 pounds. Tarasenko is a highly skilled, beefy winger that potted 33 goals, and registered 35 assists for a total of 68 points in 76 games played. The Blues also have a 6’3,” 225 pound, shifty player in Pat Maroon, and a 6’1,” 217 pound, highly talented player in Ryan O’ Reilly. This is just one reason they made the Stanley Cup Finals. The St. Louis Blues can board battle with the best of them, thus extending plays in the offensive zone.
Lastly, the Sharks have a solid winger in Evander Kane. Kane stands at 6’2,” 210 pounds. For the 2018-19 season, he garnered 30 goals and registered 26 assists for a total of 56 points in 75 games played. Moreover, the Sharks are also aided by bigger players in Tim Meier who potted 30 goals (6’3,” 225 pounds), Joe Thornton (6’4,” 220 pounds) who registered 51 points, and Logan Couture who potted 27 goals (6’3,” 220 pounds). They are just really tough to match up against, thanks in large part to their size. I mean we could add the Boston Bruins to this list, as well.
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 did in prior years. However, let’s hope Fletcher understands this area of concern within the Flyers offense, and hopefully, he can plug this hole via free agency or trade. This can provide immediate relief into this glaring hole of the Flyers offense, and possibly make them a consistent hockey team once again. One thing is certain this is a great time to be a Flyer fan.
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports