One month from now, the John Tortorella era begins when the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Boston Bruins on September 24th, 2022 in at the Wells Fargo Center. There are still a ton more questions than answers surrounding this team. Ultimately, can Tortorella make lemonade from the lemons he received?
Chuck Fletcher dealt Tortorella a less-than-stellar hand. Fletcher justified keeping players who don’t replicate their contract value through 2022-2023. Rasmus Ristolainen signed his 5yr/$25.5mil extension during 2021-2022 and Nicolas Deslauriers agreed to his free agency offer at 4yr/$7mil, for starters. James van Riemsdyk will also make $7mil this season.
Signing Ristolainen to a long-term extension kept the team from having the cap space necessary to make a splash in free agency, whether it be Johnny Gaudreau or Nazem Kadri.
Deslauriers and Zack MacEwen are, practically, the same player. Both are fourth-line bruisers who are on a mission to be physical and drop the gloves to gain momentum.
Included in Deslauriers’ contract is a modified no-trade clause. MacEwen agreed to an extension, avoiding arbitration. His extension was for 1yr/$925k. Fletcher defending his signing of Deslauriers, despite featuring a similar skill set to a younger, more inexpensive MacEwen:
“With the number of young players that we expect to be on our roster next year, and in a division where there’s a lot of big, physical players, we thought Nic Deslauriers would help our group and bring an element that we feel we need to allow the rest of our group to play to their capabilities.”Chuck Fletcher; 7/13/2022
Currently, the Flyers lineup to begin the 2022-2023 season closely resembles:
Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink, both under 23-years-old and critical to the future of this lineup, will miss the start of the season. Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes missed large chunks of the 2021-2022 season. Philadelphia is already flirting with danger, requiring everything to play out perfectly to keep their head above water.
Tortorella will be tasked with getting Travis Konecny back to his 2019-2020 form. Konecny could model his game after teammate Cam Atkinson, who thrived with Tortorella on the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is a major element to the Flyers’ success, leading the team in points twice in the last three seasons. Atkinson, under Tortorella, averaged nearly 58 points between 2015-2019. If Konecny begins to trend upward with Tortorella, he’ll ascend towards his career peak.
Can Tortorella turn lemons into lemonade? It depends on your perception of success. Fletcher is locked in on the stabilization of the team. Philadelphia could have been placed in a better position to begin the Tortorella era, but he’ll hit the ice with the intentions of being a hard team to face on a nightly basis. The pressure is on Fletcher following this off-season, and less on Tortorella in his first year as the head coach.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)