The Flyers And The Decision To Hold On To Young Players

Shayne Gostisbehere was a player who really frustrated Flyers fans. There were times that he showed lots of offensive prowess and then he would go into extended slumps. There were times he looked like a shutdown defender and times he looked like a defensive liability. After being traded to the Coyotes, Gostisbehere had his best offensive season in years, posting 51 points and 14 goals while having a -23 on defense.

Gostisbehere is just the latest example of a young player the Flyers have given up on that had a rebound season. Was it time for him to move on? Was he not successful under Coach Vigneault? It is him or the system? Who knows?

The Flyers have had several players in their past that the team gave up on and had success. Vinny Prospal was 22 and had scored five goals when the team flipped him for Alexandre Daigle (this is in my top five worst Flyers trades!). Two years later, he scored 22 goals and would be a 6x 20+ goal scorer.

In parts of three years, Patrick Sharp scored 10 goals. He was traded to Chicago for a third round pick and Matt Ellison (who played a grand total of seven games in two years). Sharp would score 20+ goals in six of the next seven seasons, becoming an important cog in the Blackhawks dynasty. It’s interesting to think of how he could’ve paired with players like Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards.

However, the flip side of this argument is when to cut ties with a player. This past year, we saw the Flyers finally give up on Nolan Patrick and his constant injuries. But you expect a player that puts up good numbers as a rookie to keep improving.

Mikael Renberg is a great example; scoring 38 goals as a member of the vaunted Legion of Doom line.  Every year, his numbers just dropped just a little bit.

Matt Read led all rookies with 24 goals in 2011-12 and finished fourth in the Calder Trophy vote. But he never built on any of that. While he wasn’t a bad player, he never became the player he could’ve been…unless that is the problem.  Maybe some of these players aren’t as good as we think they are.

Oskar Lindblom had his career severely derailed by cancer. Sentiments aside, is he worth holding onto? He hasn’t put up the same numbers he did before his illness. Can he rebound or are his best days behind him? Do you hold onto him for sentimental/loyalty issues or is he hindering the development of someone else who can contribute at a stronger level?

The Flyers are in a weird state right now, as they are not rebuilding or retooling, but in a state of transition. A lot of this will depend on who their next coach will be. They have a lot of young players who have shown in the minors and juniors they can produce.

If you can get a great talent to build the “right now”, sometimes it can be worth it to give up a young prospect. But in the Prospal for Daigle trade, it can totally backfire. Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery (John LeClair anyone?). Sometimes they need a good linemate to blossom.

As the Flyers go into the offseason, they will have lots of question marks. They may have to make some difficult decisions regarding certain players. Sometimes, you can cut your losses (Patrick) and move on. Sometimes it blows up in your face. The Flyers need to be smart right now and not sacrifice their present or their future. The ball is in Chuck’s court…or rather the puck is on his ice. Let’s hope he is smart about it.