Every player on a team matters. Every player has a role to fill. Some are mentors to help younger players. Other are young players; the stars of the future who are hoping to make it big and have a long and lasting career. Then you have the star players that the team depends on. The Philadelphia Flyers have players in all of these categories, and need to find a way to make it work.
The Flyers have roughly two dozen players on their roster, and about the same in the minors, who can be called up at any time. From first line to depth piece, everyone plays their part in the organization. Everyone is important, but to paraphrase George Orwell, “some are more important than others”.
With the upcoming season, these five players will carry the most impact on the team’s performance this season. This doesn’t mean that the players not listed here aren’t important or won’t make an impact – they will. However, much of the success, or lack thereof, of the Flyers this year will rest on the shoulders, skates, and sticks of these five men.
#5: Sean Couturier
It’s no doubt that Flyers have missed Sean Couturier’s leadership almost as much as his offensive capabilities these last 20 months. Now that Patrice Bergeron has retired, you can make an argument that he is the best two-way forward in the league… when healthy.
He hasn’t played in an NHL game since December of 2021. A lot has changed on this team since then. Nothing has changed inside of him, though. Couturier still has the fire and energy ready to play and was upset that he wasn’t allowed a chance to play in some meaningless games in March and April.
The Flyers were wise to sit him in the final fames of last season. A healthy, hungry Coots will go a long way for the Flyers in 2023-24. If he can stay healthy, he will be a great role model for players like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, and Noah Cates in terms how to play the game the right way. That alone could be worth five or six wins.
While the return of Cam Atkinson will also be important to this team, Couturier’s return is more important. He’s been the heart of this team for years; even if Claude Giroux was the captain. The leadership he brings to the table is invaluable. That’s something this team has been missing for a while. He will bring it back.