After allowing ample time for the sting of a lost season to set in, we can approach the rest of the season with clear eyes and a sound mind.
The Philadelphia Flyers don’t have it this year – there’s no need at all to rehash and debate every misstep. Read the tea leaves. It’s only a matter of time before the longest tenured athlete in Philadelphia, Claude Giroux, finds himself on a contending team. The rest of the roster? Wait and see.
Here are six Flyers topics that tell the 2021-2022 story so far…
Philadelphia currently sits at 15-26-10, good for 40 points. They’re ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, and Seattle Kraken, but tied with the Buffalo Sabres.
Based on regulation wins and losses, they have fewer wins than the Kraken, Devils, and Sabres.
The NHL standings remind us of the competition surrounding the Flyers. On one hand, they’re in the same boat as an expansion team in its first year (Seattle) and two rebuilding teams (New Jersey and Montreal.) On the other, they’re surrounded by perennial basement dwellers (Arizona and Buffalo.)
Philadelphia’s brass needs to be aware; follow the paths of the Devils and Canadiens – two teams that were successful recently, admitted their shortcomings, and started building for the future. They need to avoid a prolonged rebuild, or state of mediocrity, like the Coyotes and Sabres. This season will be a measuring stick used to judge progress considering the performance of these teams.
Who’s the Next Head Coach?
Alain Vigneault was fired shortly into this season, and the Flyers named Mike Yeo the interim head coach. He’s doing the best with the cards he was dealt, but is Yeo out at the end of the season?
My thoughts on the next coach? I like Yeo, in theory; he’s had success in the NHL before. With that said, he has the stink of the previous regime on him, and the team could spin its wheels next season if he remains the head coach.
If there decision were up to me next season, I would lean toward Rick Tocchet. The front office went with back-to-back coaches away from Philadelphia when they hired Dave Hakstol and Vigneault, so methinks it’s about time they go back to the Wells, pun intended.
Will leave his analyst to turn the tide of this franchise after this dumpster fire season? Money talks and there are a finite number of positions available. If Tocchet gets the coaching itch, the Flyers could be a landing spot.
If Giroux Leaves, Who Becomes Captain?
If Giroux is moved at the trade deadline, he will finish his run with the longest captaincy in franchise history. Philadelphia shouldn’t rush to name another captain this season.
There are a few different candidates the team could choose next season if Giroux is gone: Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, and Kevin Hayes all are alternates. Each could become the next team captain.
My choice, however, is Scott Laughton. Here’s why:
He exemplifies most what it means to be a Flyer. Laughton has the grit of player who has seen and done it all, and is hitting his stride. He played one-and-a-half years for Philadelphia consistently before being sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to figure it out. In the AHL, he made the most of his time before coming back to the Flyers a better player.
That experience is invaluable for young guys and he will be here for the foreseeable future. Laughton is one year into a contract extension and could be the perfect veteran type of guy to lead this team from the current regime into the future. He recently became an alternate, meaning he has the ear of the locker room.
Let the Recalls Cook
Philadelphia is dead in the water.
The rest of the season a fact-finding mission to see what we can learn in the remaining games.
What does that mean? For starters, prospects need to be put in a good position. I’m looking squarely at Morgan Frost and Cam York.
We’ve been hearing about how advanced Frost’s offensive game is, and how he’s the future of this team. Well, the future is now; let him play his game in the NHL. He shouldn’t be on the third or fourth line grinding with other recalled players. He needs a true identity at the NHL level before the end of this season, when he’s subject to become a restricted free agent. Ideally, Frost would center the second line with Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny.
Simplify his game and put him in a position to showcase his skill set, don’t make him something he’s not.
In reference to York – we’re working on the assumption that one of Justin Braun or Rasmus Ristolainen are moved at the deadline. If that’s the case, there’s no excuse for not receiving second pair minutes. York can’t be tasked with carrying Keith Yandle or Nick Seeler on the third pair, like how Frost shouldn’t be grinding in the bottom six.
I keep a running tab of the Philadelphia athletes I wish spent more time in the city. I think of Andrew McCutchen on the Phillies and Chris Long on the Eagles. Cam Atkinson is absolutely in that category.
He’s such a breath of fresh air with his non-stop motor and scoring touch. I wish he came here a few years ago. I’m not sure what his trade value is, if he’ll be moved in the offseason, or finish his contract here. What will his next contract demand and will it be worth it to have a player like him on the roster at that time? The cart is way in front of the horse – for now I just wanted it noted that I think Atkinson is fun to watch and I wish he spent more of his younger years in orange and black.
A 2022 First Round Plan?
I will not change my mind on this: if Juraj Slafovsky is on the board when the Flyers are on the clock, they should sprint a card with his name on it to the podium.
Slafovsky played on the Slovakian national team that took home the bronze medal in the 2022 Winter Olympics. He scored seven goals in as many games en route to becoming the tournament MVP. He stands at 6’4″, weighing 218lbs.
He’s a high-end scorer who shined on the biggest stage of 2022 so far. Philadelphia needs him.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)