The Five Most Important Flyers Heading Into the 2024-25 Season

Every player plays a role, but which five Flyers have the biggest impacts on how this upcoming season could go?
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Terry Wyatt/GettyImages

The draft is over. The free agency splurge has finished. The Flyers lineup for 2023-24 is pretty much set, barring an injury or some rookie blowing everyone's mind away during training camp. This is the team that we will be rooting for this season.

While all players on a team are important and everybody on it has their particular role, there are five players that the Flyers will be counting on this upcoming season more than others. These five specific players will pretty much determine how the outcome of this season will go and the following seasons.

Matvei Michkov

The kid has arrived. Now we will see if he has been worth all of the hype. It's not often that a draft pick from the year before could outshine this year's number one draft pick, but yet here we are. If Michkov is the scoring threat that we've all heard he is and can feast on opposing goalies all year, we are in for a fun time. This is the guy that the Flyers front office is banking their future on. Other NHL teams are eagerly watching to see if it pulls off as we hope as they made similar draft moves this year as well.

Michkov is the most heralded and anticipated Flyers' prospect since Eric Lindros. If he can possess even half of Lindros's talent, we'll be in great shape for years. If he gets hurt or can't adjust to the NHL from the KHL, we are in big trouble. For now, let's hope and pray for the best.

Travis Konecny

Konecny is heading into a contract year. He's heading into his prime. If he can stay healthy, he has a good future in front of him. He's gotten better over the last two years under John Tortorella's tutelage. Does he want to stay in Philly? Do the Flyers want him around?

Part of this will depend on how he gels with Michkov. Or, if he is on a different line than Michkov, how well he leads that line. If his time in Philly is done, can he bring in a big haul come trade deadline time? Will a trip to the playoffs determine if he will remain a Flyer? More importantly, is he the guy to lead this team back into the playoffs? All of these questions will be answered soon enough. However, they need to be answered. That's why Konency is important to this team right now. He will determine the future direction of the Flyers based on whether he is on it or not.

Jamie Drysdale

Fairly or unfairly, Drysdale will always be tied by Flyers' fans to Cutter Gauthier, the man he was traded for. Gauthier was supposed to be a foundational piece of the future. Flyers fans were drooling at the thought of Gauthier and Michkov streaking down the ice and wreaking havoc in the opponent's zone. But when he demanded a trade, those dreams were shattered. A hero has now become a villain.

Drysdale played in just 24 games last year after the trade. He scored two goals with three assists. He also was a horrific -18. Then a shoulder injury claimed the rest of his season.

Drysdale had once been a highly touted first-round pick by Anaheim. The kid has talent. The problem is that injuries have plagued him throughout his career. If he can stay healthy, he could be amazing. He can make us forget all about Gauthier. He just turned 22 years old. Remember, Sean Walker was "injury-plagued" all of his career and became, by surprise, one of the best NHL defenders last season. If Drysdale stays healthy, he can help transform the Flyers' defense. Speaking of staying healthy...

Rasmus Ristolainen

Ristolainen's time in Philadelphia has been a roller coaster. He was acquired at too high of a price, given too much money with too long of a contract, and played poorly to start. After getting chewed out by Tortorella, he turned it around and arguably became the Flyers' best blueliner. Then, last year, he couldn't stay healthy. He appeared in 31 games and scored one goal with three assists.

We've still yet to see the scoring potential from him. While he is physical, he hasn't been the big hulking defender we've also been promised. While he took a huge step forward in 2022-23, he took quite a few steps back last year, mostly due to injuries. This is why he is one of the most important Flyers heading into this season. There are a lot of young guys ready to make the jump to the NHL. If he can't cut it, he is blocking their path. If he is back to form, he can be a great mentor to Drysdale, Egor Zamula, and Cam York. He could also be trade bait if someone is willing to take on his salary. As of right now, the Flyers have him for two more seasons at $5.1 million.

Sam Ersson

Last year at this time, Ersson was hoping to retain his spot as the team's backup goaltender. However, injuries to Carter Hart got him more playing time. And with Hart taking a leave of absence to be held accountable for very serious charges, Ersson's play earned him the starting role. With Hart no longer a Flyer, the net now belongs to Ersson.

One of the reasons that the Flyers faltered down the stretch was that Ersson was burned out. They had used him too much, but to be fair, they had to. Would you have entrusted a potential playoff berth to Felix Sandstrom or Cal Petersen? No way!

For a while, Ersson looked as if he could steal a Calder Trophy away from Connor Bedard. His numbers looked good for a 24-year-old playing in front of a leaky defense. The starting job is now his. If he can play like we saw him play last, year, the Flyers are in great hands. He will also be helped by having Ivan Fedotov in the net, which should bring some better stability to the backup position. That will alleviate some pressure on Ersson and help put this team back on the path it needs to be on.