As the end of the season creeps nearer and nearer, fans are hoping that the Flyers don’t keep up that same pace when the puck hits the ice. The Philadelphia Flyers are notorious for slow starts, and that’s no secret. The Flyers have had losing records in four out of their last five Octobers and Novembers, respectively.
Death, taxes, and a slow start from the Flyers. It’s become the norm. However, it’s not all bad news if the Flyers don’t take off right out of the gate.
The Phantoms could benefit from another slow start to the Flyers season. Let’s say one of the coveted rookies makes the Flyers opening night roster. Everyone is excited, everyone is ready to see them tear up the NHL. The Flyers go their usual 5-5-1 in the month of October, or even worse. By November, the excitement has worn off, and fans want the roster shaken up.
Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, and German Rubtsov have been the names thrown around that are likely to fill the open third-line winger role with the Flyers. If they don’t live up to the hype in the first month of action, they may get sent back down to the Phantoms in favor of someone more seasoned at the NHL level, and that’s a good thing for Lehigh Valley. Last year, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was called up in late October. He ended up playing nine games for the Flyers, albeit due to James Van Riemsdyk getting injured. He recorded no points and was promptly sent back down in mid-November. Aube-Kubel went on to score 30 points in 54 games for Lehigh Valley during the rest of the season.
Getting a young forward back from the Flyers would help the Phantoms out in a big way. Given the pedigree of some of the candidates to make the Flyers, the Phantoms could use a player of that stature in Lehigh Valley. A slow start for the Flyers could actually be a good thing for the Phantoms.
Another effect of a slow start actually benefits the player. Regardless of whether Farabee, Frost, or Rubtsov makes the team out of camp, if they come back down or remain with Lehigh Valley they will see more ice time. Either of the three would see third line minutes in the NHL, generally around 13 to 16 minutes a night. In Lehigh Valley, they’re likely to be slotted into a second, maybe even first-line role, getting them more time on ice and likely more situations as well.
Given the skill sets that each possess, it’s likely that these three will make up half of the top-six forwards in Lehigh Valley. That automatically puts them at more ice time than a bottom 6 role with the Flyers. More ice time gives them more opportunity to adjust their game to the professional level. Like it or not, we haven’t seen Frost or Farabee against professional competition yet. Rubtsov had 14 games last year, but what can we learn from such a small sample size? Affording these young forwards more ice time in the AHL could benefit them more so than thrusting them into the spotlight that is the NHL.
This may not all be dependent on a slow start to the Flyers season, but history shows that it’s helped get some young talent back to the minors. The Phantoms benefitted last year when Aube-Kubel was sent back down after his nine games with the Flyers. Even back in 2012, 19-year-old Scott Laughton played in 5 NHL games before being sent back down to the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and finished the season with 56 points in 49 games.
Whether they’re with the Flyers or not, these rookies and the Phantoms would likely benefit from a slow start to the year by their big club in Philadelphia.
Mandatory Credit: Alex McIntyre