Flyers Signings and Scoring and Prospects, Oh My!
13. This will be the most talented group of forwards the Flyers have had in a decade.
Hextall’s plan is coming together. Fletcher’s additions of Kevin Hayes and Matt Niskanen have turned the Flyers rebuild into a reload. If you look at the players the new young players from the past season, NAK, Farabee, and Frost, I have an easy time seeing any of them hitting 20 goals in the NHL. TK looks like he has ascended and Lindblom looked like a 30 goal scorer to me before he fell ill. I can still see Nolan Patrick as a 20 goal scorer. Add G, Jake, Hayes, JVR to the top end offense, and our talented grinders Laughton and Raffl. With the kids improving faster than the veterans’ fade, we may be in for a really enjoyable three-year stretch.
14. Kevin Hayes is solid again in 2021 but does not top 25 goals
Hayes gave me everything I thought he could this season and more of it than I expected. I wish I could bank on that kind of scoring, but I just don’t think it is the case. Hayes will have a “down” year in terms of scoring. I don’t think he will have as many short-handed tallies. I do not see him getting a significant bump in power-play minutes. I think teams are going to plan for him a bit more, he will no longer be an afterthought.
I see his next season looking G’s 2020 season, where less is more. New younger players will take a bigger role, and eat up ice time, but Hayes, like G did this season, will answer the bell and win his shifts, and stay fresh and healthy through the year.
Hayes’ play will be important for the Flyers like it was last season, but rather than wondering if he will play well, I expect him to, almost to the point of taking it for granted. The kids will be the force to get the team over the next hump, but they can’t do it without Hayes’ excellent play as the second pivot.
15. Flyers Sign a Value RHD FA (probably from Minnesota or TVR)
If we know one thing about Fletcher, he loves RHD from Minnesota. Before the playoffs, I would have bet big that Trevor Van Riemsdyk would be joining the Flyers this season. Given JVR’s use in the playoffs, the Flyers may be Reimsdyked out. Add this year’s cap constraints it looks even less likely. I do expect Fletcher to look for a fringe veteran RHD, signed at the minimum, to round out his roster.
16. Samuel Morin Plays at least 5 games for the Flyers
This poor kid needs to catch a break. I think he does this year. I think Morin will be logging a lot of miles on the PA Turnpike as a swing defensemen for the team. The more injuries the team gets the more he will play as the first defender on the call-up list. The question will be the same as it has been for the last three years, “Can he stay healthy?”. I believe he does this year and is a solid call up for the team.
17. Justin Braun not resigned
This will come down to a price/fit issue. While it is not certain, it appears to me that Braun will be taking a pay cut where ever he signs. He has value, he will garner interest, but I would see him making somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million. I also don’t think he has the style of game that could cause a team to fall in love and wildly overpay. My guess is he heads back west with the best offer from the Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Coyotes, or maybe the Canucks.
18. Brian Elliott comes back one more time
This was a coinflip. Unlike Braun, I do not think other teams will value him as much as the Flyers do. I think he comes back for another year with a nominal raise on a one-year contract. Elliott played well this season and sometimes a pro that knows the system is more valuable than a more talented alternative. Add to this that Carter Hart said he wants him back. I see no reason to rock the boat with the franchise netminder, squabbling over a few dollars for a journeyman. Hopefully, Fletcher sees it the same way.
19. Four Fs, Frost, Friedman, Felix or Forget about it. Frost and Friedman play more games than any other minor league players for the Flyers.
The two biggest support players from the current Phantoms roster will be Morgan Frost and Mark Freidman. I expect at least one of them to make the team out of camp and to dress for a significant amount of games. I see no other non-goalie player on the Phantoms, outside of Rubstov and Morin, who have a chance to make a serious impact.
I think Sandstrom will get a chance to play with the big club this year. Hart will be starting his third season on the big club. I think everyone knows he can play, but the question is can the twenty-two-year-old handle the big job. Twenty-two years old!!!!. I think the organization thinks the answer is yes. Hart’s run in the playoffs would seem to support that view. Elliott will be looking for one final big payday potentially leaving the backup role up for grabs. Felix grabs it and is the primary backup this season if Elliott leaves. If not he gets a few starts to fill in for a sick or injured goalie.
20. Flyers Fourth Line Will Be A Mess Until Christmas
It may be a good problem, it may be an issue that makes little difference in terms of wins and losses, but the Flyers’ fourth line will be in flux until after Thanksgiving. The Flyers have too many prospects and too few roster spots. Even if we allow for Grant, Thompson, and Pitlick to leave via free agency, two of those three spots will be picked up by the return of Lindblom and Patrick.
Add Connor Bunnaman, Carsen Twarynski, Morgan Frost, and a host of other draft year +3 players coming into camp, there are a lot of possibilities. My expectations are that a lot of these guys can play, so the questions become who can play together and who can do what the coaching staff wants? Nicolas Aube-Kubel gave the staff what they wanted and was chosen to dress often. I expect several players to have auditions and it may take months to sort out.
There is a lot to look forward to this upcoming season, it should be a fun ride!
Here is to seeing what happens in 2021!