The Philadelphia Flyers most likely aren’t going to be in a spot to contend next season. After what seems to be a fairly successful draft, the team has to start looking and prepping for the upcoming season. Many of the moves they’ve made so far this offseason haven’t made many fans say “Wow!!!” Is there a method to what they are doing? Are the Flyers planning something bigger? Maybe Macklin Celebrini big?
While the trade of Ivan Provorov brought a pretty substantial haul, most of the other deals this past summer have been a bit underwhelming. After days of speculation, Kevin Hayes brought in a measly sixth-round pick. After weeks of speculation, the Flyers couldn’t trade Tony DeAngelo for literally anything and instead had to buy him out. The free agents who have been signed will be average depth pieces at best.
If the Flyers are trying to improve this team with a youth culture and build for the future, then what are they trying to do? A writer at ProHockeyRumors.com had an idea to the Flyers’ moves. In a recent mailbag, he suggested this:
"I don’t get the sense that the Flyers are looking to compete next season…at least in the traditional sense. The moves they’ve made are that of a team that has an eye on bottoming out and trying to become a contender in the Macklin Celebrini sweepstakes. So, are they going to score enough to compete at the top end of the standings? No, but they’ll score enough to compete at the bottom of them. Next season should be about giving their young forwards extended looks in key roles to see how many of them can realistically be a part of their long-term core."
Who is Macklin Celebrini? As of right now, he seems to be the leading consensus pick for the 2024 NHL Draft. He is a 17 year old Canadian from Vancouver, BC. The young forward stands at 5’11” and 180 lbs. Macklin Celebrini has also committed to Boston University for next season.
Macklin Celebrini has played in the USHL for the Chicago Steel this past year. He lit the league up scoring 46 goals and 40 assists in 50 games. His 86 points lead the league, as did his 46 goals. Playing for team Canada in the WJC U-18, he scored six goals with nine assists in seven games, making him the fifth-leading scorer behind 2023 top prospects Will Smith, Gabe Perreault, Ryan Leonard, and Otto Stenberg, and just ahead of Dalibor Dvorsky.
Let’s get one thing clear. The Flyers are NOT deliberately tanking, especially as long as John Tortorella remains the bench boss. If they are trying to turn this team around and embrace a culture of winning, tanking isn’t the way to do it. However, they will most likely have a lottery pick in next year’s draft, and that alone will give them a shot at Macklin Celebrini.
At the same time, we don’t know what trade deadline deals they may make and what players they won’t get to sign long term extensions (Travis Konecny? Carter Hart?) that could end up bringing some first-round picks to them. Those picks would probably be in the back half of the first round, but a package of a player + some first round picks could bring the Flyers into the top five selections. Likewise, in 2017, the Flyers jumped over 10 spots to grab the number two spot.
Last season, the New Jersey Devils had the largest season-to-season turnaround in NHL history in large part to the growth and development of their younger players, led by number one picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.
The Philadelphia Flyers are in a similar spot. They could tank and hope to win the NHL Lottery to win Macklin Celebrini, or, if they start to gel and play well, they could start to turn this team around sooner rather than later. If those are the two options that the Flyers realistically have, it’s not a bad place to be. They could end up drafting a top tier player to match up with Cutter Gauthier, Matvei Michkov, and other young stars or they could in a place to start advancing up the NHL standings now with what they got. Either way, the team seems to be in a good spot for the time being.