Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is sticking to his plan for the team, but some teams may leapfrog them this season as the Flyers build slow
The Philadelphia Flyers created a lot of excitement in the city of Philadelphia last year with their improbable run to the playoffs. After a slow start, the Flyers went 16-6-3 in their final 25 games to qualify for the NHL playoffs. This would cause most fans to look at the team and think about what the Flyers need to do in order to take that next step towards being a Stanley Cup contender.
The Flyers did take some steps to improve the team for this up coming year. They signed Dale Weise who will give them more size, speed and goal scoring from their bottom six forwards. They signed Boyd Gordon to help with defensive zone draws and penalty killing. This move should give Claude Giroux some relief from having to take so many defensive zone draws and should allow him to start more of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Although these moves will make the team better, they aren’t the kind of moves that will vault the Flyers from being on the playoff bubble in to a Stanley Cup contender. The Flyers will still be a team that will be fighting for one of the final playoff spots at the end of the regular season. And there is no guarantee that they will succeed at making it in to one of those final few playoff spots. Even with their 16-6-3 run to end the season last year, the Flyers barely squeaked in to the playoffs. They clinched a playoff birth on the second to last day of the regular season by beating a Pittsburgh Penguin team that was resting all of their star players because their playoff positioning had already been decided.
The Flyers also benefited from the Boston Bruins going 1-7-1 down the stretch thus allowing the Flyers to, let’s face it, back in to the playoffs. The Flyers needed to have a lot of things break their way in order to get in and fortunately for them they did. There is no guarantee this will happen again next year.
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There are other factors to take in to consideration too when looking at the Flyers playoff chances for the upcoming season. A lot of the teams that finished behind the Flyers in the standings last year made some big improvements this past off season that could vault them ahead of the Flyers for the final playoff spot.
We all know about the job Flyers GM Ron Hextall has done at re stocking the Flyers farm system. Many publications rank the Flyers minor league system in their Top 5. Even with all of the talent that the Flyers are stockpiling in their system though, all of their prospects are anywhere from one to three years away from playing in the NHL.
So when you look at the Flyers, the long term prognosis is extremely bright. But, when it comes to the immediate future, it is possible the Flyers could take a step back before taking that first significant step forward. And this isn’t a bad thing. Right now the main focus of the Philadelphia Flyers should be on finding ways to rid themselves of veteran players with big salaries like Mark Streit and Matt Read while developing their young prospects like Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Travis Konecny. If the Flyers miss the playoffs next year but all or most of their young prospects take a step closer towards playing in the NHL, the season will not have been a waste. Next is a list of teams who I think have a chance to surpass the Flyers in the standings.
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