The Flyers might be the saddest team in the NHL. Not only are they really bad, but Philadelphia still has a ton of crushing contracts that restricted them from going after hometown kid Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason. Even worse, these bad contracts aren’t from over two years ago or anything. They were signed within the last calendar year, and looked bad then, too. Now, the fanbase and media will have to deal with John Tortorella’s antics. Only one kid can save them now: Connor Bedard.
Offseason additions: D Tony DeAngelo, F Nicolas Deslauriers, D Justin Braun, F Artem Anisimov (PTO), F Antoine Roussel (PTO).
Offseason subtractions: F Oskar Lindblom, D Keith Yandle, G Martin Jones, F Nate Thompson.
The recent news that Sean Couturier will miss most of, if not all of the season has put another wrench into the team’s plans. It also significantly weakens them down the middle, as the only reliable top-six center is Kevin Hayes. While he was limited to just 48 games last season, Hayes had his best scoring pace as a Flyer, with ten goals and 31 points. Injuries and personal loss clearly affected Hayes, who had the second-worst xGF% on the forward core. Joel Farabee scored 17 goals with 17 assists in 63 games in his third NHL season. The young winger had 50 penalty minutes, which is sloppy given his play style. Farabee and veteran Cam Atkinson were the leaders on the team in GF/60, as Atkinson scored 23 goals with 50 points in his first year with the Flyers.
Aside from Atkinson, only one other Flyer scored over 20 goals, and that was James van Riemsdyk. Both veterans hadn’t hit that mark since 2018-19, failing to do in the shortened seasons. At age 32, van Riemsdyk led the team with 24 goals. The team’s leader in points last year was Travis Konecny, with 52. However, he scored just 16 goals with 77 penalty minutes. Just like Farabee, Konecny isn’t physical enough to have spent that much time in the penalty box. Scott Laughton now has a good opportunity to move up into the top-six with Couturier out. He averaged almost 16 and a half minutes of ice time a night last season, a career-most. Laughton also had 30 points in 67 games while killing penalties.
Coming back from Florida for captain Claude Giroux at the deadline was Owen Tippett, a highly-touted sniper who has struggled to score at the NHL level. Tippett had seven points in 21 games after the trade, with a total of ten goals and 11 assists in 63 games for the Flyers and Panthers. In 12 AHL games, Tippett showed that he can still play, with 18 points. Bobby Brink, a second-rounder in 2019 who could have been a first-rounder, had four assists in 10 NHL games after coming from the University of Denver. In 41 games there, Brink scored 14 goals with 43 assists for 57 points. The 2021-22 season should have belonged to Morgan Frost. The 2017 first-round pick instead failed to take the next step forward, with just 16 points in 55 games. Frost was even sent to the AHL for 24 games, finishing with 19 points there. Another option for this line is Noah Cates, who went straight to the NHL after scoring 24 points in 37 games for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The results were actually not bad, as Cates scored five goals with four assists in 16 games.
The easy move of the offseason to dogpile on was the curious decision by Philadelphia to sign grinder Nicolas Deslauriers to a four-year contract. While he did score eight goals last season, Deslauriers really doesn’t bring any offense, but he does bring brawn. Split between the Ducks and the Wild, he had 113 penalty minutes with 263 hits. The Flyers signed veteran Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout, and he looks to have an inside track for a roster spot. Anisimov, who played under Tortorella in New York, had 19 points in 27 KHL games last season. He last played in the NHL in 2020-21, with nine points in 19 games for Ottawa. Adding onto the physical nature of Deslauriers is Zack MacEwen, a waiver claim who played in 75 games last season. He had just nine points, but MacEwen also had 110 penalty minutes with 159 hits. If Anisimov does not secure a contract, then the favorite to be the fourth line center is Patrick Brown, who had nine points in 44 games last season.
With all the issues that the Flyers have dealt with, it goes largely unstated how underwhelming Ivan Provorov has been. The offensive production hasn’t developed as much as the team would’ve liked, as Provorov hasn’t come close to the 17 goals and 41 points that he had in 2017-18. While he does get a ton of ice time, Provorov was the second-worst regular defender in goals against per 60 and was fourth in goals for percentage. In hopes to spark more offense out of him, he could be paired with Tony DeAngelo. The controversial defender was outstanding for Carolina last year, although they mostly sheltered him from any tough defensive situations. DeAngelo had 51 points in 64 games, while quarterbacking the team’s power play.
The second pairing features two polar opposite players: the analytical darling versus the analytical nightmare. Travis Sanheim was the best player on the defense by expected and actual goals for percentage. He saw his largest share of ice time last season, mostly playing next to Rasmus Ristolainen. While the metrics never liked him, Ristolainen’s offensive output has also declined. He had just 16 points in 66 games last season. He does exactly what you would expect from a six-foot-four defender: he hits and blocks shots. Ristolainen had 125 blocks and 230 hits last year.
Former first-rounder Cam York got his best look at the NHL yet in 2021-22, finishing with ten points in 30 games. It was an encouraging sign for York, who also had 12 points in 34 AHL matches. As of now, he is the guy to look forward to on the back end. After getting a draft pick from the Rangers at the deadline, the Flyers brought back Justin Braun on a one-year deal. Braun is still very capable in his own end, although he did struggle when his role was reduced in New York. If Braun does play, then he would be taking time away from Ronnie Attard, who had four points in 15 games at the end of last year. At Western Michigan last season, Attard had 36 points in 39 games. He is trying to win a spot over Nick Seeler, a physical player who got into 43 games last year.
Following an atrocious 2020-21 season, Carter Hart was able to rebound a little bit. He still had a rough 3.16 GAA with a .905 save percentage, but it was miles better than the .877 save percentage he had the year before. Of the 50 goalies with at least 1000 shot attempts faced last year, Hart’s goals saved above expected ranked 34th. Last year’s AHL starter, Felix Sandstrom, is naturally the choice to be the NHL backup after Martin Jones left in free agency. He has only five NHL games under his belt. Sandstrom had a .902 save percentage in 44 AHL games last season.
Joel Farabee – Kevin Hayes – Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk – Scott Laughton – Travis Konecny
Noah Cates – Morgan Frost – Bobby Brink
Nicolas Deslauriers – Artem Anisimov – Owen Tippett
Scratched: Zack MacEwen, Patrick Brown
Ivan Provorov – Tony DeAngelo
Travis Sanheim – Rasmus Ristolainen
Cam York – Justin Braun
Scratched: Ronnie Attard