With training camp on the horizon, it is time to take a look at the offseason moves the Flyers have made and how these moves will impact the roster for the start of the season.
The Philadelphia Flyers signed James Van Riemsdyk to a 5 year deal worth 35 million dollars. With Robert Hagg officially re-signed to a two-year deal, the Flyers still have roughly 10.2 million left in cap space.
It is safe to say that Ron Hextall has done nothing short of miracle work in order to have the Flyers sit where they are when it comes to available cap space. Just a few years back, the team was in terrible shape and was strapped with multiple bad contracts. As Dan Silver noted above, it will only get better for Ron Hextall and the Flyers as they move forward with their retooling while waiting for prospects to develop and be ready for the NHL.
Now that the 2018-2019 season is approaching, the Flyers theoretically find themselves in a better position than last season with improved scoring depth. The addition of James van Reimsdyk to Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek seems to be a very scary potential line for opponents. It’s a line that would consist of size, speed, physicality, awareness, playmaking, and deadly shots.
Jake Voracek is coming off of a solid season where he accumulated 85 points and with Nolan Patrick’s healthy offseason, the two are in a prime position to build on the success they had last year. After a slow start last season and being switched around to different lines, Patrick could benefit early in the season from the stability of being with Voracek again and the addition of van Riemsdyk on his left side.
As potentially dominating as that line could be, the exciting potential doesn’t stop there. In fact, it doesn’t even start there. It has been a long time since the Flyers have had a duel threat with its top two lines. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny as the top line has the potential to be one of the most explosive lines in the league. Giroux had an MVP-caliber season. Couturier emerged as one of the top centers in the league. And Konecny seemed to be the lifeline of this team as the season progressed.
The excitement for the group of forwards seems to decrease as Flyers fans look at the bottom six, and rightfully so. There are many question marks going into training camp after the top two lines.
For now, the Flyers have no definitive third-line center. This is where all eyes will be on Scott Laughton and Jordan Weal during camp. Scott Laughton was a third-line center last season and was moved around with Valterri Filppula. Laughton produced a disappointing 20 points in 81 games, but was effective as a penalty killer (when used) and he was also great at drawing penalties.
The main problem with the bottom six from last season was the injury to Wayne Simmonds. When playing, Wayne Simmonds was fighting through multiple injuries, which drastically affected the rest of the line up. When Simmonds is healthy, he’s a valuable asset to the roster. If he bounces back well, the third line will be much-improved.
Oskar Lindblom also helps the Flyers with depth. With Oskar Lindblom gathering experience from last season, his game should be elevated with a full offseason of training for the NHL.
When it comes to the fourth line for the Philadelphia Flyers, there are multiple different scenarios that could take place. While Laughton and Weal battle for the third center position, it will be interesting to see how the fourth lines plays out. In Dave Hakstol’s system, grit and veteran leadership seem to trump other characteristics when it comes to playing time, which means we could see Jori Lehtera sharing the fourth line center role with either Weal or Laughton.
With Michael Raffl and Dale Weise most likely being the wingers on the fourth line, that leaves the extras as Taylor Leier and whoever loses out on the 3C/4C battles.
There is also the possibility of a prospect taking one of these roles. Morgan Frost is one of the most talented prospects in this organization, so if he can prove himself during camp he could provide a huge boost to the third line that would then put both Weal and Laughton on the fourth line.
Another player to look out for is Nicolas Aube-Kubel. During his 2017-2018 season with the Phantoms, Aube-Kubel tallied 18 goals and 28 assists. With his speed and quick shot-release, Aube-Kubel is a viable option to make the team out of camp.
For the 2018-2019 season, here is my prediction for the forward line up to start the season:
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
James Van Riemsdyk – Nolan Patrick – Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom – Scott Laughton – Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl/Taylor Leier – Jordan Weal/Jori Lehtera – Dale Weise
Continue the conversation by reaching out to me via twitter @anthonydigrazio. Look out for the next installment which will go over defensive and goaltending predictions for the 2018-2019 season!