It’s been a few months since the Flyers have been in our lives. But after a ridiculously disappointing end to the regular season and after those shit birds from across the state won their 2nd consecutive Stanley Cup, 2017 NHL Entry Draft is finally a here. A draft in which the Hockey Gods looked down upon the city of Philadelphia and blessed us with the #2 overall pick. There’s been some chatter about Vegas trying to swap picks with the Flyers. There’s been some chatter about who exactly the Devils will end up selecting. We’ll talk more about all of that tomorrow when it’s actually draft day. For now, I’ll just leave you with this Nolan Patrick fight gif.
I don’t want to get too attached to this kid yet since nothing is official. But holy shit, what a stud.
But here we are. In the middle of the most confusing and chaotic offseason we’ve had in a while. In case you missed it, the Flyers have already lost Pierre-Edourd Bellemare to Vegas in the Expansion Draft. I loved Bellemare and appreciated what he brought to the table. But he wasn’t involved in the big picture for this Flyers team so losing a 4th liner isn’t really that devastating. I know the guys in the locker room respected the hell out of him but there won’t be a time next season when this team is really “missing” Bellemare. So without Bellemare in the lineup anymore, let’s take a look at who the Flyers are working with at forward.
Vegas laying off of Raffl at the Expansion Draft means the 1st line starting next season will most likely be Raffl – Giroux – Voracek. If there’s anybody on this team who needs to have a bounce back year, it’s Claude Giroux. I know he was playing through injuries but 14 goals and 58 points from your 1C and captain isn’t exactly going to cut it. The fans know that and I’m sure he knows that. There was a time when Claude Giroux could be in the conversation for one of the top 5-10 centers in the league. Now? Well I don’t really want to talk about it. But he’s 29. Has 5 more years on his contract and a team that is still about 2 years out from being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. So for the love of Rocky Balboa, let’s pray he can turn his downward trend around.
Rounding out the top 6 is Konecny, Couturier and Simmonds. Couturier is another one. If he puts his game together and stays healthy this year, he should be a part of the core moving forward. If he has another season where he gets hurt and ends up with under 40 points? I just can’t do it anymore. But like I do every year with Coots, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt heading into this season and prove people wrong. The Flyers have 2 more seasons left to take advantage of Wayne Simmonds’ comically low contract. $3.975 million is a steal for an All-Star MVP. He definitely hit his peak last season which worries me a little. If this team progresses like they should, then you hang on and extend him through a few more years. If this team continues to disappoint, his trade stock is only going to start dropping. I’d never advocate for trading Simmonds but we have to be realistic with ourselves next year on where this team is actually at.
I’d love a 3rd line of Schenn – Nolan Patrick – Laughton. Not that Laughton has been that impressive during his career so far but the fact that the Flyers protected him during the expansion draft means they see him as a part of this team for the long term. Which then brings us to quite possibly the most exciting part of the 2017-18 Philadelphia Flyers team. The 4th line. Now I know what you’re thinking. No fucking way is the 4th line the most exciting part of a team. But it is when you think about what losing Bellemare and VandeVelde means to this team. The Flyers can finally skate 4 skill lines. There’s already a deal in place to re-sign Jordan Weal. The Flyers have just been waiting until after the Expansion Draft to finalize it. So you throw him on the wing with Filppula up the middle and then throw another young kid like Lindblom or Vecchione on the other wing. Having 4 solid lines through 60 full minutes is going to be a huge game changer for this team.
6 years, $4.5 million was a great price for that Ghost extension. Especially considering the cap is going up. Do we all wish Hextall could have magically gotten rid of Andrew MacDonald at the Expansion Draft? Of course we do. But for the first time in a long time, there’s finally not a giant logjam on the blueline of wasted space. Streit is out of the picture. Del Zotto and Schultz won’t be brought back. The Flyers finally have some open roster spots for guys like Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim to come up and earn for themselves. It’s going to be a young blueline for sure, but this is what Flyers fans have been waiting for for years. We’ve got one more season left with MacDonald. You buy him out at the end of this year. And moving forward you have Ghost, Provorov, Gudas, Morin, Sanheim, Hagg and Myers as your guys. We are so so so close to finally being out of the shitter.
I don’t even want to talk about goalies today because I’m in a good mood and don’t want to ruin that.
So yeah. You look at the core that is in place. You look at the contracts that are on the books. Giroux is locked up through 2021-22. Voracek is locked up through next millennium. Couturier is locked up through 2021-22. Ghost is locked up through 2022-23. Konecny and Provorov still have 2 more seasons left on their ELC. Simmonds still has 2 more seasons left on his deal. The Flyers have the #2 overall pick in the draft tomorrow night and they have a SHIT TON of cap space to play with. Even more so next year if they buy out the rest of MacDonald’s contract. The Flyers have the opportunity to add another huge piece to that core tomorrow with either Patrick or Hischier. The pieces are in place. The money is there to find yourself a goal scorer in free agency next summer. Just gotta TTP and we’ll be watching Flyers hockey in June 2019 or 2020.