This past offseason, the Flyers and Chuck Fletcher spent a lot of time in the lab. Fletcher made a number of pretty significant moves to go out with the old, and in with the new. The defense suddenly found itself with some solid additions in front of Carter Hart, as Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen look to bolster the six blueliners. Jake Voracek was traded for Cam Atkinson. A plethora of smaller moves were made as well. After all was set and done, the Flyers found themselves with a sharpshooter, two solid defensemen, and an extra $625,000 in cap space.
However, it’s all fun and games amongst Flyers’ Twitter and the endless debates until these guys actually hit the ice in the Flyers’ uniform for some meaningful hockey. Ristolainen has been ruled out for tonight’s season opener, so he will not be put onto this list. However, let’s take a look at what we should expect from Ryan Ellis, Cam Atkinson, and a few more other newbies.
You wanna hear something crazy?
Since 2014-2015, Cam Atkinson has not recorded a point in only ONE season opener.
The even crazier part?
All of those points have been goals. That lone season came last year as well, so he went from 2014-2015 until 2019-2020 with at least one goal in each of his season openers.
This being said- SLAM ATKINSON’S o0.5 POINTS TONIGHT, BABY!
Jokes aside, Atkinson brings a huge spark to both the ice and the locker room. We saw how he performed in the preseason; his shoot-first mentality is no secret. Putting him with a hard forechecker in Joel Farabee and a career playmaker in Derick Brassard should only assist him (figuratively and literally). #89 should be one of the most exciting players to watch in the season opener.
Ryan Ellis is opening the season with odds at +3000 to win the Norris Trophy. This is irrelevant until you realize Ivan Provorov’s odds are a much longer +5000, showing that he, in theory, will bring more value than Provy to the Flyers’ blueline.
Ellis had a rough 2018-2019 campaign but rebounded greatly in 2019-2020 by averaging nearly a point per game. He came back to earth a bit during the shortened season last year with 18 points in 35 games. With a stable partner in Ivan Provorov, these two should develop a symbiotic relationship this season. Except to see Ellis thrive as the Flyers’ top option this year, and for him to showcase this in game one.
With the lack of center depth on the Flyers’ roster, Derick Brassard could almost serve as a “make or break” type player. The veteran will likely start the season in between Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson. A new team is no secret for the 34-year-old, as his debut with Philadelphia will be his ninth different team since entering the league in 2007.
Per the Flyers’ press release when he was signed, “Brassard has appeared in 905 career regular-season games and recorded 194 goals and 309 points for 503 points. He is also a veteran of over 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games, appearing in 117 postseason games with 25 goals and 43 assists for 68 points.”
Tonight, expect Brassard to do the typical Brassard thing. He’ll fit the AV mold and make defense first, but will also become a dangerous passer in the offensive zone. If Atkinson scores, Brassard will more likely than not have the primary assist. If the going gets tough, he’ll also be the guy to settle things down and possess the puck.
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire