The Flyers have been a fairly mediocre team for the past five years, missing the playoffs three times and not getting past the first round the other two years. Last season, they were just one win short of 40 wins, with a minus -17 goal differential, and a per game average of 2.67 goals.
On offense, Jakub Voracek led the team with 20 goals and a total of 61 points, followed by Giroux with 58 points, Schenn with 55, and Simmonds with 54. Two rookies, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny made their NHL debuts with six goals and 30 points for Provorov, and 11 goals and 28 points for Konecny. The defense, however, left a lot to be desired. Seven players, including the top five scorers, finished with double-digit minus ratings.
So, what has the team done to prevent a repeat of last season? With free agent Mason signing with Winnipeg, the Flyers brought in veteran goaltender Brian Elliott. The trade that sent Schenn to St. Louis gave the team Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round draft pick used to draft Morgan Frost, and a condition first-round pick for next year. But perhaps the Flyers biggest move was picking Nolan Patrick as the second overall pick in June’s Entry Draft.
Does that mean the Flyers will make the playoffs? Unquestionably, that’s the goal of almost every team in the league, and the Flyers are no exception. But will they do it this time around? Obviously, there’s no way to predict a great season for any team, with injuries being one of the biggest unknowns for any team. This year, there’s no reason to think they won’t. In fact, there’s many reasons to believe they will be in the playoffs.
Coming into this season, the Flyers are younger and full of more potential than they have been in a long time. The defense is loaded with players able to have a significant impact on the team’s season. The expectation for Nolan Patrick, if he can stay healthy, is for him to be the Flyers franchise center. And top prospect 20-year old Oskar Lindblom could make the team right out of training camp. His overall game has steadily improved and last season he scored 22 goals and 47 points. Provorov. Gostisbeherem, Konecny, and Weal should continue to improve, and they complement the Flyers core players that feature Giroux, Simmonds, and Voracek
However, the biggest question mark remaining is goal-tending. Starting goalies are Michael Neuvirth and Brian Elliott, but whether they can help make the team a real contender still remains to be seen. Overall, the Flyers should make a much stronger showing than last year’s dismal ending. Even in their very competitive Eastern Conference, there is a very good chance of seeing them in the playoffs.