Can the current Flyers’ roster live up to Vegas’ expectations?

NHL: MAR 07 Sabres at Flyers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 07: Philadelphia Flyers Left Wing Michael Raffl (12) talks with Center Nate Thompson (44) in the third period during the game between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers on March 07, 2020 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

For anyone who has been following my work, you know that I am a huge betting fan. I never like to bet on a team that I follow, but I can never stop myself from checking out the odds. As I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, I noticed there were updated odds for the 2021 Stanley Cup. Now, it’s only been a mere few weeks since the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted Lord Stanley, giving very little credibility to these odds. However, free agency has started, and it’s no secret that the Flyers have not done much.

For those who have not seen it, the Flyers are sitting at +1600 to win the cup next year. If you are not familiar with betting, you could win $1600 if you bet $100. This may seem outlandish and insignificant, but that’s until you realize these are the fifth best odds. You read that right– the Flyers are in the top five of the favorites to raise the Stanley Cup next season. To reiterate what was mentioned earlier, the Flyers’ have not made any splash moves. With this said, how can the orange and black live up to these hefty expectations?

Make a trade, Chuck

There has been one name floating out there that has thrown Flyers’ Twitter into hysteria:

Patrick Laine

Just picture it now. Patrick Laine rushes down the left boards on an odd man rush. The 22-year-old flashes his speed in his fresh orange home jersey and picks a corner to snipe one home. The visualization of a player doing this is exactly what Flyers’ fans have been craving for years.

Well, it’s too bad this’ll likely never happen. However, completing this concept is crucial to the Flyers making this aforementioned championship run. Fans would go crazy if the Flyers were able to nab Laine for the right price. However, the likelihood that this happens is probably minuscule at this point. A few other names come to mind for a possible trade to Philadelphia.

Alex Killorn is one that comes to mind. The Lightning are said to be currently shopping many of their players due to their impending salary cap quabble. Killorn is coming off of a career high goal scoring season (26g in 68 games), which is comparable to Laine, yet he makes about two million dollars less. His career may not scream “goal scorer,” especially considering who he’s been surrounded with. He’s been set up for point production and success on that second line of Tampa. However, he would have led the Flyers in goals this past season, and will provide great depth production, as he’s scored at least 14 goals in each full season he’s played. He does have a no trade clause that could be a snag, but nonetheless a move like this has to happen.

After trading for Erik Gustafsson, it’s expected that the Flyers will move Shayne Gostibehere at this point. Killorn’s contract would slide right in place of Ghost’s, and would improve their offense.

Flyers, please fix the powerplay

Do we really even need to talk about how putrid the Flyers’ power play was in the playoffs? It may make you sick to your stomach, but it’s definitely necessary.

The Flyers sat in the middle of the pack in terms of powerplay last regular season. This isn’t terrible, but it does need to improve if they want a chance at being truly elite. To put it into context, each of the past Stanley Cup winners since 2016 have placed in at least the top 10 in powerplay and most placed in the top five (aside from St. Louis due to their early season turmoil).

Let’s now segue to the most recent playoffs. The Flyers sat in second to last in playoff percentage– they could not score while a man up in almost 93% of their chances. To put this into perspective again, each of the recent Stanley Cup winners have placed in the top 10 powerplay percentage in the playoffs as well, aside from the Blues, who placed 12th. In essence, the powerplay can’t be in the basement during an expanded playoff.

The fix may be acquiring a guy like Patrick Laine, who is a powerplay machine. Laine was 1 of 5 players in NHL history with 50+ power play goals through his age-21 season. However, as mentioned before, this is not very realistic for the Flyers. Could the fix then be to reevaluate Michel Therrien’s system? This system brought success early on in the season, but was figured out quickly. The answer to this question is unknown, but needs to be corrected if the Flyers want to make a playoff run.

Learn from experience

This is probably the most crucial aspect to the Flyers making a run in 2021.

Excuse the corniness here, but in 2020, the Flyers showed how teamwork really makes the dreamwork. The group of youngsters sat in the bottom five for average age in 2019-2020. They didn’t let that get in the way though, as they stuck together as a unit and simply played with grit. That’s all Flyers’ fans want anyway, right?

Wrong. Fans may love hard work, and that is truly all Philadelphia fans ask for. However, the argument can be made that fans love winning even more. The winning formula for this Flyers’ team in 2019-2020 was their teamwork, trusting in one another, and constant hard work. Even though they came up short, there is a lot to learn from their first full season under coach Alain Vigneault. There are no fancy analytics or nitpicked stats to show this, but the eye test does.

We saw the youth of the Flyers get exposed in this most recent playoffs. After a year full of triumph, Philadelphia proved a lot of media and fans wrong with their success. To say they got exposed solely because of their youth would be pure ignorance on my part, but it’s no secret that there was some nerves. A lot of these guys were making their first playoff run. Mix that in with the expectations they had being a one seed, and simply just not being ready was probably a tough pill to swallow for many.

The Flyers were ahead of schedule in 2019-2020, there’s no doubt about it. However, they proved to everyone that they are capable, and have the talent to back that up. Now that they have the experience of being the top dog and making a playoff run, there shouldn’t be any more maturity excuses. If this unit wants a chance at making a deep run, they have to mature and learn from these past playoffs. The fact that they did not win is beyond any type of importance at this point. It’s already done and over with. To say that fans should be dramatically upset if the Flyers do not win in 2021 is a bit egregious, but if this team does not reflect on what went right and wrong in the playoffs and utilize their experience, they are bound to see a reflection of 2020 next year.

Mandatory Credit – Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire