By Anthony DiGrazio (@AnthonyDiGrazio)
The time is now…
No, not a Stanley Cup run…but it is time to get the strong base of this youth movement further developed.
As quickly as free agency began, it is basically already over for the Flyers.
After trading Schenn to St. Louis, it was important for this team to re-sign Jordan Weal, which Hextall did, and it was also important to sign a bridge-goalie, which Hextall has also done with the signing of Brian Elliott.
Smaller moves still have the potential of being made, but for the most part, the Flyers have all the bodies for their starting roster.
It will all come down to training camp where intriguing battles will be taking place.
- Jordan Weal – 2 yr / $1.75 Million AAV
- Brian Elliott – 2 yr / $2.75 Million AAV
- Mike Vecchione – 2 yr / 900,000 AAV
- Corban Knight – 2 yr
- Phil Varone – 2 yr
I am a Steve Mason supporter, and as hard as it was to watch him leave, it was needed for this franchise. Sticking with the youth movement, there was no need to pay a goalie more than 4M per while trying to develop an identity. Mason wanted absolutely no parts of a platoon system, and this is exactly what appears to be happening in Philadelphia with Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott.
Mason may have been streaky, but he was also treated terribly by this franchise, so it is best to wish him luck and move on, and that is exactly what we are doing.
Back to the main discussion here…the youth movement.
I know people refer to this season and next season as the stop-gap years, but I think these years are a lot more than that. A simple terminology doesn’t express the importance of the development that will be taking place within that time-frame.
With players such as Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom, Jordan Weal, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Scott Laughton, and Mike Vecchione, the identity of the future is starting to reveal itself.
In other words, the future is now.
Just because the Flyers aren’t expected to make a Stanley Cup run this year doesn’t mean that the importance of these next two seasons should be understated.
This season is a huge stepping stone toward the future and the development this season could help accelerate this rebuild on the fly. Everyone knows the Flyers won’t be in Cup contention for a couple of years, but this team has a chance to make the playoffs ahead of schedule.
Logically thinking fans need to understand the reality of what this season is – a learning curve. Multiple rookies will be on this roster, so there needs to be an understanding that mistakes will be made.
Hell, fans need to encourage these mistakes!
For example, everyone remembers Provorov and his horrible game against the Blackhawks early last season. It may have been tough to watch, and yes, you felt bad for the kid, but that game is exactly what he needed.
I bet he looked back at the game and studied that film incessantly. I can’t recall another game in which he made the same mistakes as that one.
This upcoming season will be another roller-coaster ride, but it will be more enjoyable because fans will have the privilege of watching them make the mistakes, then going out the next game and observing them try and correct those mistakes.
A HUGE aspect of next season will be coaching and special teams play.
The Flyers will need to see more of rookie-season Dave Hakstol. Mistakes are going to be made and Hakstol will have to be there to teach the players how they can work on those mistakes and handle them correctly.
A rookie can’t be benched because he makes a simple mistake that is easily adjustable.
Hakstol also has to allow players to play their game, even if there are some risks associated with their game, such as Gostisbehere.
The core finally has the supporting depth it has needed for a few years now. The Flyers have the potential to have three solid scoring lines with a more effective 4th line.
Playoffs are not obviously not guaranteed, but if the Flyers can sneak into the post-season this season with the plethora of young talent, in 2-3 years, they will already have that experience and be ready to make the Cup run we are all hoping for.