Following the 2021 NHL Offseason moves, what could the Philadelphia Flyers opening night lineup look like against the Vancouver Canucks?
Chuck Fletcher is close to finished with the 2021 NHL Offseason. The Philadelphia Flyers’ top nine’s set, and the fourth line attached itself to the ‘Broadstreet Bully’ mentality. Defensively, the lineup grows in size and leadership.
Last season, Philadelphia finished sixth in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division. One of the perks of playing in the toughest division means young players must develop against top competition. Wade Allison and Joel Farabee trended in the right direction against the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. This offseason, Fletcher gave Farabee another weapon, and Allison found a buddy to bully opponents.
Defensively, the Flyers were a catastrophe a season ago. Fletcher didn’t adjust after Matt Niskanen retired, only signing Erik Gustafsson. Shayne Gostisbehere was undisputedly the better defenseman, who also found himself away from Philadelphia. Rightfully, Fletcher brought in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle. A cultural retooling will direct the locker room closer to their 2019-2020 success.
What could the opening night lineup be when the Flyers open 2021-2022 versus the Vancouver Canucks?
Admittedly, the right-wing seems like the position with the most flexibility. It’s likely Travis Konecny continues on the top line with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. He could flip with Cam Atkinson, especially when Alain Vigneault favors a forward with a superior two-hundred-foot game. In the bottom six, Wade Allison and Nicolas Aube-Kubel are exchangeable. Allison scores more often, but both will complement Nate Thompson on the fourth line.
Center depth seems safe within the top nine. Thompson likely won’t be a fourth-line center throughout the season. Tanner Laczynski or Morgan Frost could easily overthrow Thompson.
Oskar Lindblom is a peculiar case within the lineup. This season begins a fair assessment of the player Lindblom will be. The bottom six feels like a home in 2021-2022 for Lindblom. Hopefully, he plays beyond the fourth line ceiling because Giroux will become an unrestricted free agent, and Farabee is a restricted free agent.
Next season, the Philadelphia Flyers’ defense looks better. Ivan Provorov and Ryan Ellis headline the blueline. Keith Yandle and Justin Braun upgrade the third pair from a season ago. Now, the only anxiety lives on the second pair between Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen. Even if arbitration works for the Flyers and Sanheim, how will he perform with Ristolainen?
Ristolainen brings insecurity to the defense. There is a higher likelihood of Braun flipping with Ristolainen on the right side than any adjustments coming from the left. He was a true top-four defenseman with the Buffalo Sabres. At $5.4mil, he’ll have to prove he’s an upgrade from Sanheim tandem with Shayne Gostisbehere or Philippe Myers.
Chuck Fletcher improved the size of Philadelphia’s defense and the blueliners on the powerplay. Undeniable growth in leadership and physicality has arrived on defense. Expect a drastic improvement in 2021-2022.
A restricted free agent, the Philadelphia Flyers have already provided the qualifying offer to Carter Hart. As of this writing, there hasn’t been a new contract agreement between Hart and the Flyers. However, Philadelphia has found his backup.
Brian Elliott signed a 1yr/$900k deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Per value, he would have been worth extending.
Instead, Chuck Fletcher signed Martin Jones to a 1yr/$2mil contract. The former starter with the San Jose Sharks had it rough for the last few seasons. Philadelphia could host a rebirth with Jones. He played some of his best hockey under Kim Dillabaugh’s coaching.
Jones is an intelligent signing because of the shared relationship he and Hart have with Dillabaugh.
Last season, Elliott took on the starting goaltender workload. Jones is five years younger than Elliott. He’s young enough to step in the way Elliott did last season but comes with in-house familiarity. If Jones bounces back from his pedestrian performances over the previous few seasons, he could receive an extension to rotate with Hart. We’re rooting for that.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntrye