Who would win a Philadelphia Flyers Skills Competition?

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The NHL All Star game is controversial in itself. The concept of giving the best players of the first half of the season an honor for their great play is nice. However, some fans argue that the game is pointless, and can only lead to injury. One of the best parts of that all star weekend, though?

The skills competition.

The NHL All-Star skills competition is one of the coolest aspects of the all-star honor. In recent years, we’ve seen Jonathan Drouin skate around the entire rink in almost 13 seconds. In 2012, Zdeno Chara displayed his booming, over 108 mph slap shot. On top of this, we’ve seen some of the greatest hands in the world mix with creativity to beat goalies in unique, and often funny, efforts.

In most recent memory, the names of Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmons, and Jake Voracek have earned All-Star honors. In terms of the skill competition, Giroux displayed his silky mitts year after year, while TK skated the entire rink in 14.1 seconds just a few months ago. Not many Flyers have been given the chance to participate in recent years, however, If the Flyers held their own team all-star skills competition, who would we expect to see win each event?

Note: Events are based off the 2020 skills competition, and a player can only participate in one event.

Fastest Skater

This one is a tough one. Back in January, we saw Travis Konecny fly around the ice. Even though he placed 7th in the NHL competition, his 14.1 second time is no joke. There’s a couple of guys who fly around the ice in an orange and black sweater. Joel Farabee and TK would all be invited to this competition, but wouldn’t end up winning. The fastest guy on the Flyers would be Nic Aube-Kubel.

NAK has had a stellar bounce back season for Philly. He’s come in and provided a spark for the Flyers while they were red hot. NAK not only plays each shift like his last, but he has the ability to drop the gloves, and even produce some offense from time to time. However, the most underrated aspect of his game is his speed.

In that video, you can see how quick he is. His acceleration, his ability to change direction so easily, and overall his grit and fore checking is incredibly for a player of his stature. Him and TK would probably provide similar times, but NAK would take the edge for the Flyers’ fastest skater.

Save Streak

I mean, this one is a bit pointless to write about, but gotta get the goalies involved for something meaningful, right?

Despite popular opinion, I do think this one would be close. For sake of fairness, I’ll keep this to the player’s time in a Flyers’ uniform, even though Brian Elliott’s career shootout numbers are stellar. Since joining the Flyers in 2017, Brian Elliot has saved 23 of his 28 shootout chances (82%). As for Carter Hart, he actually has a worse percentage, saving 18 of 23 opposing shootout attempts (78.2%).

Carter Hart has shown a ton of poise, and knows how to crack down and get serious. Due to his age, personality, and overall athleticism (in comparison to Elliott’s age), Hart would take this one in a very close competition.

Accurate Shooting

Shooting percentage does not tell the whole story when it comes to accuracy However, for the sake of this competition, it gives enough leverage. Scott Laughton leads the routine Flyers with a 17.6 shooting percentage, scoring a goal in nearly every five shots he has. Sounds pretty accurate if you ask me.

Along with him, James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Frost would participate in this one. All three of these guys are snipers, but one of them stands above all: Morgan Frost.

I know Frost is not necessarily a routine Flyer right now, but thinking he’ll likely be brought onto the roster for the expanded lineups for the playoffs, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Frost has some of the nastiest goals in recent Flyers’ memory, including his first NHL goal.

Sure it was a backhand, but Frost’s shooting ability is no joke. Check out some of his best goals from Juniors and with the Phantoms- the kid can pick corners. The biggest factor about this event is also that it is timed, which is why I’d also give him the edge. He has an incredibly quick wrist shot, and constantly keeps his head up, allowing him to win this one.

Shooting Stars

For those who may not know, the shooting stars competition is the newest event during the weekend. The players stand on a platform and attempt to accurately shoot into different targets around the ice to earn different amounts of points.

Shooting Stars event diagram
Courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/news/shooting-stars-set-for-all-star-debut/c-313921360

This competition would involve skaters who would likely strive for good stretch passing and accuracy. A high-assist guy like Jake Voracek, along with stretch d-men like Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim would be participating in this one.

Matt Niskanen’s passing is sneaky good. Niskanen, obviously enough, starts his shift in the defensive zone 54.8% of the time (3rd highest on team). However, despite this, he has one of the highest Corsi-% on the team with 52.6%. In layman’s terms, Niskanen starts his shifts playing defense, helps his team break out, and plays offense more often than defense.

I know advanced stats don’t tell the whole story, but I think Matt Niskanen and his soft hands yet sweet sauces would help him take this one over Jake and Sanheim.

Hardest Shot

Now this is where the fun starts. One of the most popular competitions is the hardest shot event. Ever since Chara and Weber began going at it this past decade, it’s had me hooked ever since.

Ivan Provorov, Phil Myers, and Justin Braun are three of the hardest shooters on the team. Ivan Provorov was said to have the hardest shot by goaltender Brian Elliott in an Ed Barkowitz article back in January. However, in that same article, Phil Myers, who should have been in the fastest skater competition as well, was the most common name said when asked about the hardest shot.

As hard as it is to not take a goalie’s word for how hard a shot is, Phil Myers would likely take this one home. Not only is he 6’5, but he is an overly athletic beast on the ice. Although I was unable to find any Phil Myers’ slap shots on Youtube, I’ll take his teammates word for it. Besides, his wristers are a speedy thing of beauty, and we can imagine how booming his shot can be when able to line it up.

Bonus: Breakaway Challenge

The breakaway challenge is not it’s own event, per se, but it should be. It’s one of the coolest things to watch, as some of the most talented players get the chance to be as creative as they want. The three names that instantly come to mind for this event are three guys who honestly could participate in any event, but their hands are too crazy to not put into a breakaway challenge. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Kevin Hayes have had some of the best shootout/breakaway moves that I’ve ever seen, and would go neck-and-neck in this one.

Kevin Hayes:

Kevin Hayes lives for the highlight reel- I mean his nickname isn’t Hollywood for nothing! On the season, Hayes has an NHL leading four shorthanded goals, symbolizing his ability to use his reach, find space and give himself an open lane. And c’mon, if you were a goalie, would you want a 6’5 speedy guy with quick hands coming in on you alone?

Sean Couturier:

Coots is by far one of the slickest guys in the entire league in shootouts, rather than just on the Flyers. Couturier, the likely Selke finalist, has proven time and time again that he is able to beat goalies in shootouts. For his career, he boasts a 23.3% shootout scoring percentage, but does not show the whole story of what he’s capable of doing:

Claude Giroux:

Claude Giroux is a wizard. He would top the other two in a shootout competition, easily.

Giroux is consistently the Flyers’ go-to guy for shootouts, as he leads the entire league with 10 shootout attempts this season. He’s 28 for 92 on his career and manages to amaze fans with his different arsenal of moves each time he goes up there. I expect that this one would take a decent amount of rounds, which is why I gave the captain the edge. He never fails to pull something out of the hat to beat a goaltender. All punny idioms aside- Giroux puts goalies on skates:

Mandatory Credit – © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports