After what felt like an eternity of an offseason, the Flyers are gearing up for their season opener against the Canucks. There have been a plethora of comments based around the team’s transactions throughout the course of the past few months – and if General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, and Co. did enough to put the Flyers back in the discussion for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Even when looking at the product on paper, you know there’s no indication of how things will inevitably play out. So, before the puck drops for the first time of the 2021-22 season, we wanted to give our predictions of how we think the status of the Flyers will look like once the clock runs out in Game 82.
Okay, don’t get mad at me here. I think the Flyers start hot, then struggle for a few weeks, then end the season hot heading into the playoffs. Obviously, depth is going to be the most important asset to any team, which the Flyers have at nearly every position.
However, the Flyers youth may start to show at one point. This does not mean that they won’t get adjusted. I just think that they’ll hit a reality check at one point of the season, which at this point, may become desperation since the youth is not going to get any younger as the years go on.
Looking at their schedule, it’s going to be tough to go on extended winning streaks. I can see the Flyers winning two-three, losing one, winning two, losing one, etc. This team is in a prime rebound spot after a disappointing 25-23-8 record last year. Scratch up 45 wins in the uber-competitive Metropolitan Division, and their 45-26-11 record earns them a playoff spot.
When looking at the goals leader, I could see Kevin Hayes taking the title of the team’s leading goal scorer if he was starting the season from day one. I think Hollywood is going to take another step forward while in an orange and black sweater. Hayes was second on the team in goals two years ago but struggled mightily during the very unorthodox season ahead. Now that he had surgery to repair his abdomen, I can see him, as one of the older guys in the locker room, taking full control of this offense.
However, since he is likely going to miss up to a month of time at the start, I think Cam Atkinson will edge everyone out in goals. Given his pure scoring ability, which we have seen in the preseason, Atkinson is bound to possibly be the scorer fans have wanted for years. In my utopia, as much as I’d miss yelling “SHOOT” every five seconds, I hope Atkinson contributes heavily to stop that.
This award screams Travis Konecny’s name this season. After showing a ton of potential two seasons ago, TK struggled like many others during the shortened season. We’ve seen him paired with Giroux and Couturier, and I’d expect that to continue. Being with one of the best playmakers and a former Selke winner only takes the load off the 24-year-old as well. TK could very well be a 30-35 goal scorer this season and make for a good one-two punch with Atkinson on the line right after him.
Very corny answer incoming here- but I’m going with Claude Giroux. There is no reason that Giroux can’t be a top contributor for this team. Put all the “underrated” talk aside for a second and look at the facts. Giroux is fourth in points for the past decade, and now he has even more goal-scoring talent around him. Assuming he sticks with playing the wing, G should thrive next to Couturier and TK. Coots can handle a heavier defensive responsibility, and TK can handle the fancy scoring. Team MVP goes beyond the scoresheet, and Giroux will constantly come up clutch, be the leader he is, and also chalk up points throughout the entire season.
My other vote for comeback player this season was Carter Hart. The 23-year-old has shown pretty much all of his highs and lows since entering the league. Hart struggled last year, and there’s been a lot of clamoring that he may be closer to 2020 Carter Hart instead of 2019 Carter Hart. However, I think the complete opposite. With a newly renovated defense, Hart will hopefully not be facing a million shots a night, allowing him to take a breather and regroup more often. This kid has the composure of a veteran and works harder to improve every single day. Hart will find himself amongst the “three stars” of the night almost night in and night, earning him the Flyers’ Toyota Cup award.
When I think of a team’s best defenseman, I think of someone who does contribute on the offensive end, but is more of an “ole reliable” within their own blue line. Who best fits this description better than Ivan Provorov?
This season will have to be the year of the “comeback players” if the Flyers want to do anything, and Ivan Provorov falls into that category as well. He thrived with Matt Niskanen a couple of seasons ago, but then struggled without a stable partner last season. Now that he has Ryan Ellis, someone who has better odds than him to win the Norris Trophy, Provy should go back to thriving.
There has to come a point in time where it will stop feeling like a chore to watch the Flyers. Aside from a handful of moments throughout the most recent seasons, it’s been exactly that. However, if you know me, you know that I do my best to head into every season as optimistic as possible. Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult as we’re gearing up for 2021-22.
This offseason consisted of moves and changes that were critical for the current status of the team. While many may see that moving Jakub Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nolan Patrick, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and others simply wasn’t enough — it was the precise tipping point that was needed to alert the rest of the NHL that the Flyers mean business. The Metropolitan Division continues to be the most stacked among the league and the Flyers needed to shake things up to even have a chance to compete. Every division game counts this season (thank you, Captain Obvious) and in terms of standings, I have a feeling it’s going to be a tightly knit race down to the final few games of the season.
I do see the Flyers finding a way to make that push to the postseason, but on one condition: consistency. This cannot be a season that teeters on the fine line of average — or a more cringe-worthy term among Flyers fans — mediocrity. There’s no room for 10-game losing streaks or scoreless droughts that last multiple games. The momentum needs to continually grow and there cannot be any fizzling toward the mid-point of the season.
I’m ready to enjoy a season of Flyers hockey — and they have the right tools to make that possible.
Lead scorer (Goals): Joel Farabee
Leading scorer (Points): Sean Couturier
Team MVP: Sean Couturier
Best Defenseman: Ivan Provorov
Comeback Player: Oskar Lindblom
Toyota Cup: Sean Couturier
For what seems like the past decade the Flyers trotted out more or less the same lineup year after year save for a few pieces here and there. With two seasons under his belt as general manager, Chuck Fletcher saw enough and decided to shake the core of the team up; sending Jakub Voracek to Columbus, Nolan Patrick to Vegas by way of Nashville, and Robert Hagg to Buffalo, and Shayne Gostisbehere to Phoenix. In return, he brought in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle, and Cam Atkinson among others.
This Flyers team, when healthy, is one of the deepest in recent memory. As silly as it sounds, they’ll likely go as far as the combination of Carter Hart and Martin Jones takes them. They have the horses on offense to put up points. They have bodies on defense to play a smart and sometimes physical game. To me, it comes down to Hart bouncing back and Jones being a competent backup.
Fletcher put the team on the clock and it’s playoffs or bust. I believe they make it. How much noise they make when they get there is a different story.
How the Philadelphia Flyers play during Kevin Hayes’ absence will weigh heavily on their season. It’s critical to start fast in a division that includes the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and Washington Capitals. I look to the first ten games of the season. If the Flyers can maintain a winning record for when Hayes returns versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, then Philadelphia has an opportunity to bounce back from last season. A healthy lineup is the most vital ingredient.
If the Flyers can stay healthy, it’ll justify all the offseason boxes checked off by Chuck Fletcher. Eventually, Morgan Frost will reinsert himself with Philadelphia. In my mind, they could finish as high as third in the Metropolitan Division or as low as fourth (around 42-45 wins.) Either way, that’s a snug fit for a postseason push.
Lead Scorer (Goals): Goal Farabee
Leading Scorer (Points): Captain Claude
Team MVP: Couts
Best Defenseman: Ryan Ellis
Comeback Player: Oskar Lindblom
Toyota Cup: Couts
The new-look Philadelphia Flyers take to the ice Friday for their first game of the season. As we fans are excited about the beginning of the season, it’s also time to predict the end. Where will the Flyers end up?
For the majority of the Hockey world, the Flyers are not good enough. A majority of the reporters for NHL.com predict the Flyers to miss the playoffs. Sure, GM Chuck Fletcher has made plenty of moves, but their depth is certainly an issue. The injuries to Kevin Hayes and Wade Allison have magnified the deficiency. Instead of young players like Morgan Frost, Tyson Foerster, Jackson Cates, and Linus Sandin getting an opportunity, Fletcher has opted for players on waivers. Their depth was an issue last season as well.
Should the Flyers remain healthy, I am predicting that they will make the playoffs and will be one of the Wild Card teams. For their efforts, they will face one of the division winners in the first round. Not ideal, but should they put together a spring like they did in 2020, anything is possible. For as dismal as last season was, the Montreal Canadiens made the Stanley Cup Finals. Oh, they also only had 59 points in the regular season. That is ONE more than the Flyers.
So here is my Flyers (not so) bold predictions. Sean Couturier leads the Flyers to the Playoffs. Although he was not the scoring leader for the Flyers last season, he was certainly in the mix. He also missed nine games and if his .91 PPG average held he would have been the Flyers overall points leader. Couturier will again be the team MVP. Coots will be an all-star and be in consideration for Team Canada’s Olympic team. This still hurts as he was born in Phoenix, I’d rather see him in Red, White, and Blue. Coots has a monster year and if he stays healthy, he will again win the Selke and eclipse his highest season point total of 76.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre