After Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals, Kevin Hayes, who scored the lone goal, said the following: “We don’t really have a full-on superstar on this team that’s going to get two or three points a night”. He’s right, the Flyers don’t have a bona-fide superstar. They haven’t had one since Claude Giroux was traded.
To be fair, the Flyers are not the only team that lacks a superstar. Sure, there may be good players on Buffalo or Arizona. But then again, Columbus has both Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, and they are in last place.
What the Flyers do have is a collection of good players. Carter Hart is one of the best younger goalies in the league and if the Flyers can maintain his confidence, he will grow to be one of the best in the game. Kevin Hayes is a strong veteran player; perhaps a bit overpaid, but still a steady, stabilizing force. Travis Konecny is a hot shooter. Cam Atkinson is streaky, but has a scoring touch. Tony DeAngelo has been an offensive juggernaut on defense this year and Ivan Provorov is having one of his better seasons.
And yet, despite the talent, what this team lacks is someone who can say, “Hey guys, jump on my back and follow me! We got this!” The Phillies have Bryce Harper. The Eagles have Jalen Hurts. Even the Sixers, though struggling, have Joel Embiid. The Flyers lack that guy and they have lacked that guy for awhile.
It wasn’t that long ago that Wayne Simmonds asked his teammates to hop on the WayneTrain. Giroux, despite his offensive skills, never seemed to be that sort of guy to publicly rally the troops. But someone on this team needs to be that guy.
Some teams are lucky to find one in the draft…a Connor McDavid, Austin Mathews, or a….<cringes> Sidney Crosby who can pick up the team behind them. The Flyers haven’t been that lucky in a very long time. Their draft pick record over the last 10 years is filled with either busts (Nolan Patrick, Sam Morin) or guys who are good role players, but not stars.
We could turn to free agency. David Pasternak would be a GREAT addition to this team. So would Nathan MacKinnon. But…there’s that pesky salary cap issue again. Unless this team can move a lot of cap space, we’re kind of stuck.
So, someone from within is going to have to step up and take that leap forward. Someone is going to have to stand up and “be that guy”. When that happens, you can guarantee the fortunes of this team will change almost overnight. Let’s hope they can find him soon.