To look at which players have improved from last season to this season, we have to look at those who played enough last year. That way we have a good enough sample size to show they’ve improved upon a previous year.
Owen Tippett is an obvious answer. But he only played 21 games for the Flyers last season. Sure, we can look at his season as a whole and it shows a massive improvement in the NHL. It’s also likely due to the fact that he is getting regular minutes. He was in and out of the lineup in Florida and has played more this season that he had in any season with the Panthers.
He has career highs in all offensive categories. So yes, he has improved. But looking towards another player who has spent his entire career in Philadelphia, we can see another player close to a career season.
And that is Scott Laughton. The only player to have a letter on his jersey this season, Laughton is clearly a favorite of Tortorella’s. He can be deployed in numerous situations and has been a mainstay on the new and improved penalty kill.
He’s responsible for three of the Flyers nine shorthanded goals this season, a category they are tied for first in. Laughton needs two more goals and three more points to yet again set new highs. He’s fourth on the team in all offensive categories.
And with added power play time as well, it’s helped Laughton with his overall game and confidence.
"“When I started putting him in it, he succeeded,” Tortorella said about Laughton on the power play. “He makes big plays. Game in and game out, he makes big plays, makes big mistakes, but then makes another big play after. That’s what he is, in all facets of the game.”"
On the flip side of that, there are players who have struggled this season. One of those players has been Joel Farabee.
Now, it’s fair to say that he didn’t get to have the off-season training that he expected after neck surgery. So it’s not as easy to say that Farabee has disappointed. But 4+ months into the Flyers season and there’s still more left to be desired. Farabee has gone eight games without a point and 10 games without a goal.
Before that, he had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games. There are times during the month of January that Farabee looked like he was turning things around. But now with another lengthy scoreless drought, he needs to find a way to get back to where he was. That will take time, but the work has been there.
"“I still want to see more in every part of his game. And I say that — I think it’s a good thing, because I think there’s more there. I think he’s a better player. But he’s improved,” Tortorella recently said about Farabee’s game. “He’s done some of the things we’ve asked him. We’ve had conversations. He’s played some big minutes. I really think for Joel, a big time for him is in the offseason. I’d like to see him get stronger. He’s still growing into his body. And I have to remember that. But I think he’s improved”"