The Flyers have played 42 games so far, and are therefore over half way through the 2017-18 season. While their record and standing in the division aren’t what the fans hoped they would be in October, it has already been a year of resurgence, emergence, and career-highs for some individual players.
Here are the top five players from the first half of the season.
5. Brian Elliott
The Flyers signed Elliott in free agency this summer, with the intention of having a platoon between the pipes. But Michal Neuvirth’s injury in November left Elliott as the go-to guy for the past almost two months. He’s come up big for the Flyers, helping them win games they probably would have lost in years past. He was named to the NHL’s three stars of the week in back-to-back weeks in December.
4. Shayne Gostisbehere
After a sensational first season that found him second in Calder Trophy voting as the league’s rookie of the year, it’s no secret that last season Gostisbehere struggled to find his footing. His hip and abdominal surgery in May, 2016 likely played a factor in last year’s woes. Now fully healed, Ghost is looking a lot more like the player Flyers fans fell in love with. He’s more mobile on the blue line, he’s quicker in the neutral zone, and his shot is more lethal. His nine goals so far has already surpassed last season, in just just over half as many games.
3. Ivan Provorov
Provorov has already proven once again that he is, without a doubt, the team’s best defenseman. His intelligence, durability, and pure skill are unmatched by any defenseman his age. He’s already set a career-high in goals (8) in 40 fewer games than last season, and is averaging nearly 25 minutes of ice time per game. Fans are screaming for him to be nominated for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman, and he’s certainly been the team’s best candidate for it since Chris Pronger. But with players like Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns in the league, he likely won’t be in the mix for the award at the end of the season. Give him a few more years to mature, though, and there’s no doubt he’ll be a contender.
2. Claude Giroux
Dave Hakstol took a risk at the beginning of the season by moving Claude Giroux to the wing and putting him on the top line with Couturier and Voracek. He was called insane for it. But the only insane thing is that it’s somehow worked. Voracek has recently been moved off that line, but each one of those three players are having themselves a great year. Giroux is currently tied for second in the league in both points (52) and assists (38). The only player with more assists than him is Voracek.
1. Sean Couturier
Giroux’s move to the wing has benefitted one player the most, and that’s Sean Couturier. No one on the Flyers has had a bigger breakout year than him. His 23 goals and 42 points are already career-highs, and he still has a whole second half of the season to go. He has eleven points in the last seven games (7G, 4A), including six points in the last three (5G, 1A). Now in his seventh season in the NHL, it’s hard to remember sometimes that he only recently turned 25 years old. The past six seasons, Couturier has been pigeonholed as a “defensive forward” and held back from reaching his true potential. But this year, with his move to the top line, he’s been able to break out and become an offensive threat, as well.
Jake Voracek (8G, 43A, 51P)
Voracek’s impact on this team so far this season certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s leading the entire league in assists and has played a key role in generating offensive depth, specifically when on a line with Michael Raffl.
Scott Laughton (7G, 6A, 13P)
Laughton’s role on the team certainly hasn’t been as big as the rest of the names on this list, but he’s done a tremendous job in the role he’s been given. He’s already matched his career-high in goals, and has been an important driving force in the bottom of the lineup.
Wayne Simmonds (14G, 12A, 26P)
Simmonds’s production hasn’t been what fans expect from last year’s team MVP, but he’s still on pace for nearly 30 goals and is consistently one of the biggest power play threats in the league.