The new year is on the horizon and Flyers hockey is on the rebound as Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol were ousted as general manager and head coach. Thanks to Scott Gordon, Rick Wilson, and Chuck Fletcher, there has been a feeling of rejuvenation among the Flyers players. So which players are going to breakout in 2019?
Number 5- Oskar Lindblom
As Oskar Lindblom is coming up on his first full season in the NHL, his time as a Flyer has been unsteady at best. Lindblom is always one of the hardest workers in the ice, but has yet to find his scoring touch and that has forced the coaching staff to limit his minutes. Lindblom’s minutes have fluctuated wildly from five to twelve minutes lately as he is mainly played on the fourth line. Hopefully Lindblom gets another chance in the top-six and can find his scoring touch that he had with the Phantoms last season.
Number 4- Samuel Morin
Samuel Morin’s return is on the horizon and it can’t come soon enough. With guys like Andrew MacDonald and Christian Folin still wasting space on the Flyers blueline, there will be plenty of opportunities for Morin to come in and take a top six role. Lucky for Morin, Scott Gordon is now the coach and they are very familiar with each other from their time in Lehigh Valley, so the chance Morin actually gets a fair shake is pretty high.
Number 3- Carter Hart
Now that Carter Hart has burst onto the scene and has so far lived up to his lofty expectations, the Flyers hope that they have found their next superstar. Who knows what will happen when the Flyers goaltenders get healthy, but for now it is clear Hart can hang with the big club and it shouldn’t be long before the crease belong solely to Carter Hart.
Number 2- Nolan Patrick
There is plenty of hype that comes with being a second overall pick in the entry draft, and so far in his young career Patrick has not quite lived up to those expectations. After posting 13 goals and 30 points in his rookie season and finishing the season strong, many expected Patrick to take another step forward this season but that hasn’t really happened. Currently on pace to record another 30 point campaign, it’s his overall disappointing play on the ice that has brought the fans down. With Dave Hasktol out of the picture there might finally be a clean slate for Patrick to work with. The hope is that Chuck Fletcher eventually brings in a few more stars sometime this year and with any luck Patrick will benefit from a couple of editions to the team around him.
Number 1- Travis Sanheim
Maybe one of the biggest beneficiaries of Dave Hakstol’s firing, Sanheim might finally be given the chance to breakout. In the short time since Scott Gordon’s promotion to the Flyers head coach, Sanheim has been used in a much higher capacity. Playing roughly 15-17 minutes a night on the third pairing under Hakstol, he has seen his TOI increase to almost 22 minutes a night, including more time on the powerplay and his first taste of the penalty kill. His current pairing with Provorov has been solid and as his development continues, he should be able to shine with anybody.
Scott Laughton– It’s never too late to break out. Now 24-years-old, Laughton is having by far the best season of his young career. Laughts already has 12 points through 33 games, which puts him on pace to shatter his career high of 21 points from 2016. Excelling in every role he has been given this year, Laughton’s overall play has risen and his star is on the rise because of it. With his ceiling still foggy, Laughton could be a late-bloomer leader this young core needs.
Anthony Stolarz– Making his return to the NHL after missing a year of action with a knee injury, Stolarz picked up right where he left off. Getting recalled by the Flyers after the injures continue to mount, Stolarz stepped into a rough situation with the team at rock bottom, he did look solid in nine games. his numbers weren’t all that impressive (3.90 GAA, .880 SV%) it was his overall play that looked promising. With any luck the team improves around him and he will have a chance to stick around in the Flyer crease.
Nicholas Aube-Kubel– NAK had his first taste of NHL action earlier this season and, despite his lack of ice time, showed that he can handle time in the big leagues. Only averaging five minutes a night in his first nine NHL games, it was hard to judge him, but it was evident that he had the raw talent to someday be a NHL regular. Still seeing big minutes and decent offensive numbers with the Phantoms, when he gets his next shot in the NHL, hopefully he can stick around for good and shore up the Flyers bottom six.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportingnews,com