Twenty (Not So Bold) Predictions for the 2022-2023 Flyers: Part 3

Apr 17, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (6) against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (6) against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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The final installment of the Flyers 2023 predicitions is more about the fallout from how they perform on the ice.  It will be an uphill battle for the team barring some extraordinary and unexpected developments.

The Signs of the Rebuild-apocolypse

Sanheim Has a Great Year…..

What does a great year for a second pair defensemen look like on a bad Flyers’ team?  I am not sure he will pass his career record for points at 35 set in 2019.  I am not sure he will have a better plus/minus than last year’s career best +9.  But you will see it on the ice.

Sanheim had a really good statisitcal year in last season’s dumpster fire. I think that Coach Tortorella has the ability to help Sanheim and his partner Rasmus Ristolainen play their best hockey. Look for Sanheim to best last year’s even strength GF% of 53.09. Seeing a nasty version of Sanheim with a smarter version of Ristolainen is one of the more exciting possibilities for this season.

… And then is Traded at the Deadline

Sanheim is one of the few marketable assets the Flyers will have. If Fletcher is fired and a “rebuild” is underway, new management will want to put their stamp on it. If Sanheim is playing, well, he could be a key piece in reconstituting the Flyers prospect pool.  Incidently, for those Sanheim fans, this would be a good move for young Travis who will not have to waste his prime on a Flyers rebuild.

When Sanheim hits the market he could command as much as $6 million a year.  The Flyers will have only $18 million in cap space and only 26 (Out of a maximum of 50) players under contract. There is not a lot of reason to keep Sanheim, just like there was not much sense in re-signing Ristolainen. I just hope the Flyers have someone other than Fletcher negotiating trades by then.

Nicolas Deslauriers Plays More Games For the Flyers than Any Flyers Rookie Forward

Winger Deslauriers, one of the Flyers bigger signings this offseason, will be in the lineup more often than any other Flyers rookie forward, showing once again the Flyers have drastically over estimated their roster and just how competitive they will be.

Deslauriers, it is hoped, will bring a toughness that the front office felt was missing from the team.  They could have a point, and John Torotrella loves tough hockey players.  But at the same time the Flyers have opted to take roster opportunities from younger players, because of the “ready to win now” mind set.  Is this team ready to “win now”?   Last year’s showing would indicate they are not.

Is a “win now” front office, who hired the most “win now” coach, really the right fit for a team on the cusp of a rebuild and several prospects that need NHL experience? This train has already left the station, and even if there is a front office shake up, don’t look for Tortorella to sign on to a “learning” season for young players. Deslauries will be a staple on a Torts coached team.

Flyers Trade JVR

JVR is in a contract year and he has a history of producing when there are salary implication. Also, at least for some stretches, JVR looked to be more than the one dimensional scorer we all know and tolerate. Much like Hayes, there is a lot about JVR that will Tortorella loathe, and that will need to be worked out, but unlike the case with Hayes, Torts has all the leverage, because JVR is playing for his next contract. I think Tortorella will help JVR supply enough effort to draw some interest from teams.

Apparently, the cost for the Flyers to part with JVR this summer was a first round pick, one that the Flyers had to include to get a team to take on the last year of JVR’s contract. I expect the Flyers to land a 3rd or 4th round pick for a post Tortorella van Riemsdyk at the deadline from a team looking for powerplay help or depth scoring.

Yegor Zamula Earns a spot with the Big Club

Zamula’s size and skill will earn him a spot on the club. He will need to add more aggression to his game to stay with the club. I believe that Zamula’s attention to detail in the defensive end gives him the inside edge over Cam York for minutes on the bottom pair on a Tortorella coached team.

My belief is Tortorella will favor the rangy defensemen, with the hopes that he will bring more of a physical nature to the defense. While physical, snarly play is not necessarily Zamula’s default setting, he is better equipped to bring it than other Flyers prospects. This is another situation where the crucible of a Torts’ coached team could unleash the talent of a player. I think his happens here.