I still remember where I was when the Claude Giroux trade news broke. I was in Haddon Township doing a bar crawl and it just made me realize that an era of Flyers hockey was ending and new one was coming. The longest tenured player in Philly was gone. What was coming for this new era is still unknown, but for now, the future seems brighter.
Giroux is now on the Ottawa Senators and ended up becoming just a rental for the Panthers. That first round pick is looking like it maybe a higher draft pick with the way the Panthers have been playing. The Panthers are currently sitting in 4th place in the Atlantic Division with a 35-27-7 record A far cry of their 58-18-6 record the year prior. It also could be that the Joel Quenneville effect has finally ended or that this team soley relies on a few players, Matthew Tkachuk being one of them (most likely having another 100-point year).
Whatever the reason, I know that the Panthers are kicking themselves for letting Owen Tippett go, especially with the way he has played this season. As for German Rubstov and Connor Bunnaman, Rubstov is back in Moscow playing for the Moscow Spartak and Bunnaman is in the AHL where he belongs for the Panthers. Bunnaman has not seen NHL ice since being traded by the Flyers.
As for the Flyers, since that trade, Chuck Fletcher is gone, John Tortorella has been installed as the head coach AND ownership is looking to make changes and try to make this team a contender. With young players who have taken a leap, a core of vets and a potential generational talent of a goaltender, this team has a good chance to take that leap.
With this being year three of the rebuild, I fully believe it will take another three years for this team to be legit. As for a timetable, it’s unclear whether Carter Hart will stay, if Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson and Kevin Hayes fit the rebuild timeline and if Tortorella will be able to stick around with how both the fanbase and media in this city can be.
As of right now, Noah Cates, Hart, Travis Konecny, Cam York, Owen Tippet and Joel Farabee appear to being making up the rebuild core. Couturier, Ryan Ellis, Hayes and Atkinson all have their futures currently up in the air, but between the four, Couturier and Atkinson are most likely two of the players who will stay. Atkinson obviously has a history with Tortorella and Couturier has a lot of respect from his teammates and most likely, his coaches.
As for Ellis, who knows if he ever sees the ice, but having him back and as the veteran/number one defenseman on this roster and in the room would be big for development of the younger players and even a leader who can help some of these guys who maybe going through slumps.
Regardless, there are still some kids in the system who haven’t taken a step yet or have come to the AHL/NHL rosters. Jay O’Brien, Cutter Gautier, Emil Andrae and a few others who should be coming to the team in the next year or two could potentially be the pieces that are missing. Elliot Desnyoyers, Bobby Brink, Egor Zamula, Ronnie Attard and Tyson Foerster are all just waiting in the wings for their opportunities, but with that team going to the Calder Cup playoffs, they will get some important experiences in huge games that matter.
The future starts now and its looking brighter every day!