Who Should the Flyers Rebuild Around?

Feb 20, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Travis Konecny (11) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Travis Konecny (11) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

A few weeks ago, I asked the question “Who was untouchable” on the Flyers? Apparently, Chuck Fletcher thought that just about everyone was as he only traded away Isaac Ratcliffe, Zack MacEwen, and Patrick Brown. This is also part of the reason why he has been let go of his general managing duties.

With an eye to the future, the Flyers need to look at where the team needs to go. Someone has to be the centerpiece of this franchise. I’m not talking about being the next team captain. That is a different thing. I am also not talking about who is going to be the leader of this team; the voice in the locker room. I’m talking about the foundational piece.

Who is this team going to look to to be the guy to follow onto the ice to victory? It could be the next captain. It could be the vocal leader. But sometimes those guys aren’t like that. Scott Laughton is quiet, but does his work on the ice. Sean Couturier, is similar, but is not the team’s scoring threat to build around. Those guys are important pieces, but not who should the focus be.

A few guys on the current roster immediately have to come off the list. James van Riemsdyk, Brendan Lemieux, and Justin Braun. They are all free agents and most likely will depart this offseason. It’s nothing against them, but unless they return, they are off this list. Likewise, Ryan Ellis and Cam Atkinson are in doubt because of their injuries.  Couturier, while he is skating right now, shouldn’t be the focus of the team as he is still recovering and we don’t know how he’ll be. However, he should be one of the locker room leaders regardless. Likewise, it shouldn’t be Carter Hart. It needs to be a forward or blueliner.

So, who should the focus be? Who should the Flyers focus their rebuild/retool/re-whatever around?  I have three suggestions.

Travis Konecny

He’s already a leader on the ice. He’s the team best offensive minded forward. He has clicked with John Tortorella after being benched. He’s been streaky…either really hot or really cold. He’s been injured. But when he is on the ice, this team is transformed. He’d be the easiest guy to build around. Give him some complimentary players to work around and he could dominate a game easily. He could become this team’s version of Eric Lindros, Daniel Briere, or Claude Giroux.

Cam York

He’s young, but he’s shown a lot of maturity in a year. He could be the guy that the defense rallies behind. Likewise, he could be the guy who can jump start a power play or transition the team when they get a takeaway. Cale Makar became a leader pretty quick in Colorado. There is no reason that York can’t perform the same. And unlike some of the other young blueliners, he is learning from his mistakes and rarely makes them more than once. More than that, he shows no signs of lazy ho-hum play.

A Non-Flyer

There may not be someone on this team who can do it. Maybe a trade for someone might have to be the answer. Someone who has shown they can win somewhere else. Maybe someone who wants a change of scenery. This will have to be where Briere has to be creative since the team has very little money in the way of salary cap.

The free agent pool is going to be quite slim as well.  Many of the top free agents are too old and won’t come here (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Joe Pavelski) or will cost too much if they are under or close to 30. Although someone like Jason Zucker or Alexander Killorn would be good pieces to add, if the Flyers can afford them, could they be the one to build around?

Also, the problem with an outside piece is that they are new to what it means “to be a Flyer”. That might be something “the guy” might have to learn. Hard to say.

Either way, it’s going to be a long rebuild. Torts has been honest about that from the beginning. Don’t look for an easy fix. But when we find “the guy”, we’ll be halfway there. Once we got that, we can figure out who to put around him to maximize their abilities and potential. We have a lot of good supporting players and some who can make a great fourth line. But we need “the guy” to take this team into a contending level.