The Flyers struck gold on April 29th, 2017. They were expected to pick 13th in the NHL Entry Draft, but defied the odds. They didn’t win the lottery, but they did the next best thing. They moved from 13th all the way up to 2nd. It was the biggest jump in the league’s lottery history. There was a 2.4 percent chance the Flyers would move up, but it happened. And with that 2nd pick in the draft, the Flyers selected center Nolan Patrick, who lots of experts say was the best player in the draft.
With the addition of Patrick, the Flyers are also expected to have two rookies start on defense this season. Obviously trades and signings could still happen, but according to Hextall it doesn’t sound like he’s going to make a move before the season starts. Players could also get injured, but barring any injuries, the Flyers defense will consist of Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, and Brandon Manning. Manning is expected to be the 7th man, which means the Flyers have two open spots in the starting lineup. Look for rookies Sam Morin and Robert Hagg. Both were 2013 draft picks of the Flyers. Morin was taken in the first round, and Hagg was picked in the second. They each made their NHL debuts last season, as they both got their feet wet playing a game each. Don’t count out Travis Sanheim, either. If he has a good training camp, he could beat out one of the other two rookies.
The Flyers will have a new goaltending tandem this season. That’s nothing new. As any hockey fan knows, the Flyers have had goalie problems since the ’90s. Since 2010, when they lost to the Blackhawks in the finals and their goaltending was atrocious, they’ve used 10 different goalies, which is A LOT in just 7 years. They signed former Flames goalie Brian Elliot to a two-year deal. He’s coming off an up and down season. He started off the season slow, then played great the last couple months of the season, but struggled in the playoffs. Elliot led the NHL in save percentage in the 2011-12 season, as well as the 2015-16 season. He’s expected to split time with Michael Neuvirth. Anthony Stolarz will likely be recalled if either of the two ever get injured. Steve Mason, who has been the starting goalie for the Flyers for the past couple seasons has moved on, signing a new contract with the Jets. Mason was very good his first two and a half seasons in Philly, but was inconsistent in the last two years, and it was clear he wasn’t happy with how coach Dave Hakstol used him.
The forward core is where things get interesting. The Flyers made a few interesting moves this offseason. Brayden Schenn, who was 2nd on the team in goals, was traded to the Blues for Jori Lehtera and two high draft picks. The team also traded Nick Cousins to the Coyotes for a draft pick and minor leaguer. They lost Pierre Eduard-Bellemare to the Vegas Golden Knights. Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Travis Konecny, Jordan Weal, and Michael Raffl will all be in the starting lineup, as long as nobody gets injured. Jori Lehtera, Matt Read, and Dale Weise are three overpaid players, but will probably be on the roster. Whether they make the starting lineup is a different story. Nolan Patrick, who the Flyers selected 2nd overall, will likely be on the team, but he is only 18 (will be 19 when the season starts) and he’ll have to earn his spot. Oskar Lindblom is a rookie from Sweden, who has a good chance to make the team, but it won’t be given to him. Michael Vecchione and Scott Laughton will battle it out in camp to see who gets the last roster spot. Don’t count out Taylor Leier, who if he has a good preseason, could push his way onto the roster. The team really needs Giroux to have a bounce back season. The captain had a down year, scoring just 14 goals and 58 points. They need him to get back to scoring 70+ points or they don’t have much of a chance at the playoffs.
This would be my roster/lineup going into the season:
Matt Read and Dale Weise would be my healthy scratches. Mike Veccione and Taylor Leier would be sent to the Phantoms, the minor league affiliate of the Flyers. Brandon Manning would be my scratched/7th defenseman. Elliot would be my starting goalie, backed up by Neuvirth. This training camp looks to be an exciting one for the Flyers.