Last year, I made some predictions for how the 2023-24 Philadelphia Flyers season would turn out. As it turns out, I nailed several of the predictions but was way off on others – the final standings of the division in particular. To be fair, who’d have thought that a Columbus Blue Jackets team headed by Johnny Gaudreau would bottom out and be one of the worst teams in the NHL while the New Jersey Devils, one of the worst teams in the league the season before, would become one of the NHL’s best?
As I peer into my magical hockey crystal ball, I see some things that could potentially happen. Now, none of this is taking a catastrophic injury (or several of them) into account. This is all based on how the team has looked through training camp and how the health of the team has unfolded. With the Flyers getting ready to start the season shortly, this is how things appear to be able to play out.
What Place Will the Flyers Finish In?
The Metropolitan Division continues to be the toughest division in the NHL. The Atlantic Division is no slouch either (more on them later). If anything, all of these eight teams will be beating up heavily on each other being fueled by ancient hockey rivalries… oh yeah, and Columbus will be there too.
Based on the how the teams finished last year and how the offseason went for our divisional foes, I am placing the standings as follows:
8. Blue Jackets
This is still Carolina’s division until someone knocks them off. They have beefed up their already formidable defense. At this point, Caniacs are waiting to see if Andrei Svechnikov can return to form after his ACL tear just before the playoffs began.
New Jersey’s cast of young players had a great year last year and should build on that success. They will be the Hurricane’s closest competition. After that, it becomes murky. The Rangers are still solid, but they are aging. The Islanders are…well, the Islanders. You never know what to expect from them. When you think they will be good, they are not. When you think they will stink, they don’t. They didn’t make a lot of major moves this offseason, but will have a full year of Bo Horvat this time around. So, we’ll see.
The Jackets will bring up the rear of the division. This brings us to the Pens, Flyers, and Caps. Pittsburgh is also aging, but they made a big move in acquiring Erik Karlsson. He might be able to give Sidney Crosby and co. one last run for the Cup. But is he enough? Washington is also aging rapidly. Outside of Alexander Ovechkin, they aren’t that impressive anymore. If the Flyers can stay healthy, they could be ahead of both Pittsburgh and Washington; depending on the health of those teams as well.
Will the Flyers Make the Playoffs?
Again, this is a tough one. If the Pens lose Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin for an extended period of time and the Caps lose Ovi, the Flyers have a legit chance at placing fifth. This could especially be true if the team’s rising young stars actually perform the way we think they could.
However, the Eastern Conference has other good teams as well. The Boston Bruins are still tough, but they had a rough offseason; losing some key players to free agency and retirement. The Toronto Maple Leafs lost some firepower, but still have a strong core. Tampa is still Tampa, but the Lightning will be without Andrei Vasilevskiy for an extended period of time. The Florida Panthers can build on their success after their surprising run at the Cup. Both the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres barely missed the playoffs last year. The Detroit Red Wings improved somewhat, but are still probably out of playoff contention. The Montreal Canadiens also aren’t there yet.
So, the Atlantic has six teams that could be playoff contenders. The Metro has roughly six as well. That means, that twelve teams could be good enough to earn a playoff berth. However, there are only eight spots. Four bubble teams will see their playoff hopes burst.
If the Flyers make the postseason, they will probably be one of the last teams in. Right now, it is looking as if the Flyers may be one of the last ones out. However if the injury bug ravages other teams and if the Flyers get hot, you never know. At this point, I’m thinking they aren’t there yet, but they are close and are probably about one year off from making the postseason. They will improve on last year’s numbers and will just miss out.
Flyers Stat Leaders
Travis Konecny will once again lead the Flyers in goals and points. Owen Tippett will chip in and lead this team in assists. Cam York for will be the top point-getter for the defensive players. Nic Deslauriers, once again, will lead this team in penalty minutes by a long mile.
Flyers Team Awards
I think the following awards will be given out the the following Flyers players:
Barry Ashbee Trophy for Best Defenseman: Travis Sanheim
Bobby Clarke Trophy for Team MVP: Travis Konecny
Yanick Dupre Memorial for Class Guy: Sean Couturier
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial for Most Improved Award: Noah Cates
Toyota Cup Game Star Selections: Travis Konecny
Gene Hart Award Work Ethic & Dedication: Scott Laughton
Flyers All-Star Selection: Travis Konecny
The Flyers are ultimately one of the harder teams to get a read on for this upcoming season, but the outcome of their season might be up to several external factors. After a down year, though, a lot of that is up to the players in need of a bounce-back season.