2023-2024 Flyers Midseason Grades: Forwards

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Flyers' Konecny, Foerster, Belpedio, and Laughton
Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Konecny, center left, looks on with his teammates after losing their first home game of the season following the NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Ducks won 7-4. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

We’re a little over the halfway point of the 2023-2024 NHL regular season.

At this point, a season ago, the Philadelphia Flyers (23-14-6) were 18-18-7, but now, they’re third in the NHL Metropolitan Division. Who would’ve thought?!

Most preseason predictions placed the Flyers near the bottom of the league standings in the draft lottery mix, but they’ve defied the odds, currently holding a playoff spot.

Addition by subtraction contributed to the Flyers’ success. Shipping veteran players in the offseason helped the youth to find their footing in the NHL.

Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson returned, bringing leadership into a young locker room, and the room is buying into the system and John Tortorella.

Philadelphia is the shock of the NHL, and the players deserve their flowers. Here are the midseason grades for the forward group:

Travis Konecny: B+

Travis Konecny ascended into a ‘game-changing’ player. He is the heartbeat of the Flyers over the last two seasons, earning his second NHL All-Star honor.

In 43 games, Konecny totaled 39 points (21G, 18A), driving results in every scenario. It could be even-strength (14G, 17A), the penalty kill (5G), or the powerplay (2G, 1A), and Konecny helped elevate the Flyers to new levels.

Konecny is a clear leader on the team, leading the charge on the ice. When Tortorella decides who will have a letter on their sweater, expect Konecny to be near the top of the list.

Joel Farabee: B+

Joel Farabee managed to play every game in 2022-2023, returning from neck surgery before that season began. He wasn’t back to playing his best, and even then, he scored a career-high 39 points (15G, 24A). There was more where that came from.

Farabee is exploding on offense this season. His 33 points (14G, 19A) ranks him second in team scoring, and he is on pace to hit 50. Recall November 30th, an overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils, when Tortorella benched Farabee. After that, Farabee tallied 18 points (6G, 12A), a factor in the Flyers’ recent success.

In five-on-five situations, Farabee has 29 points (13G, 16A). Ahead of him: Connor McDavid, Elias Pettersson, Nikita Kucherov, and Nathan MacKinnon.

His surge put him on the Flyers’ top line, and Farabee has fully embraced how to play under Tortorella.

Sean Couturier: B+

Heading into the season, questions surrounded Couturier after missing almost two full seasons. Would he be himself again? Could he recapture the Frank J. Selke form from 2019-2020? The answer is yes.

Two back surgeries hindered his recovery, but he doesn’t appear to have missed a step. In 40 games, Couturier has 29 points (10G, 19A), and is a critical element to this Flyers lineup.

Since returning, Couturier averages 20:03 of ice time per game. He created offense in all situations and is as strong defensively as ever. Couturier hasn’t missed a beat and is competing for another Selke Trophy.

Owen Tippett: B

Owen Tippett has three goals in the last four games. He is a streaky goal scorer who carries a heavy shot, but accuracy is sometimes an issue.

“If Tip [Tippett] hits the net, I think he has probably seven or eight more goals. He misses the net so many damn times, but he develops offense.”

John Tortorella; 1/12/2024

Tippett brings a lot of offense using his speed and shooting ability. In 43 games, he has 26 points (15G, 11A), but there’s no doubt he can turn into a forward who scores more than 30 a season. Lately, Tippett is finding a groove.

Morgan Frost: C+

Tortorella once described Morgan Frost as a toilet seat, up-and-down.

“You look at Frosty [Frost]; I still think he’s up-and-down like a toilet seat. You see him coming, and then he dips. Hopefully, it levels out and keeps on going in the proper direction because he’s supposed to be a skilled guy. You can see it’s there but it’s still very inconsistent when we’re playing the game.”

John Tortorella; 11/29/2022

Frost was one of the go-to healthy scratches for Tortorella, only appearing in 32 games. When Frost rejoins the lineup after being scratched, he makes his presence known.

In 32 games, Frost has 15 points (7G, 8A) with the skill set to eclipse 40 in a season. Last season, he was one of the best forwards during the second half. Another strong second half of a season will help Frost gain more trust with Tortorella.

Scott Laughton: C+

Scott Laughton played some of the best hockey of his career in 2022-2023, including his NHL and IIHF World Championship ventures. Last season, he had 43 points (18G, 25A).

Laughton has 18 points (3G, 15A) in 43 games. Usually, Laughton isn’t the player who will light up the score sheet nightly, but he leaves it all on the ice each shift.

On the ‘power kill,’ with Konecny, Laughton is prominent. He is a vital factor behind the best penalty kill in the NHL (86.8%).

Additionally, Laughton is a beloved figure of the fanbase and organization, and his leadership is incredible in the locker room.

Tyson Foerster: C

After making a splash in his first NHL stint, Tyson Foerster feels growing pains during his first whole season. Last season, in eight games, Foerster scored seven points (3G, 4A). In 2023-2024, he tallied 17 points (6G, 11A) in 42 games.

Foerster has one of the more dangerous shots on the team but is snake-bitten in finding the back of the net. His goal against the Minnesota Wild on Friday was the first in 16 games. He needs to finish the second half of the season in his full rookie campaign with gusto.

Cam Atkinson: C

Nobody was more snake-bitten than Atkinson as the Flyers visited the Winnipeg Jets. He was in the middle of a 26-game drought, the longest in his career. Against the Jets, Atkinson accounted for every goal in a 2-0 shutout.

Atkinson found his footing earlier this season. After missing all last season, Atkinson has 20 points (10G, 10A) in 42 games, playing a large role in helping the youth under Tortorella.

Bobby Brink: C

Like Foerster, Bobby Brink is going through growing pains. In 37 games, he scored 18 points (7G, 11A). At times, like Frost, he is a healthy scratch from Tortorella, but that’s expected for a player still finding his place in the NHL.

Brink has every tool to have a successful NHL career, but he’s still seeking a breakout.

Noah Cates: C-

Noah Cates appeared in 21 games this season, missing time due to a broken foot. In that span, Cates scored four points (1G, 3A), which is underwhelming. He had a tremendous rookie season under Tortorella, pushing votes toward the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

Tonight, Cates is back in the lineup. He’ll offer a two-way presence down the middle of the lineup while Couturier is out for another game with a minor injury.

Ryan Poehling: C-

Added as a free agent, Ryan Poehling provides stable depth. At times, he isn’t shy with the puck, creating offense in the bottom six with 12 points (4G, 8A) in 38 games.

Poehling can make a strong case to earn another contract with the Flyers if he keeps his work ethic into the offseason.

Garnet Hathaway: C-

Like Poehling, Garnet Hathaway is another successful depth signing by Daniel Briere. Hathaway has a role on the ice, protecting the youth with his physical style of hockey.

Saturday was his 500th NHL game. On the bottom line, he helps set the tone and give the Flyers an identity.

Nicolas Deslauriers: C-

Nicolas Deslauriers knows his role, too. His ice time dwindled, and Tortorella doesn’t shy away from putting 11 forwards out in formatted lineups. However, Deslauriers still commonly mixes it up with opponents. When the Flyers need an extra kick, Deslauriers provides the juice.

(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)