Predicting the Flyers’ Forward Lineup

Even after the Philadelphia Flyers had the biggest offseason the franchise has seen in a decade, there are still some noticeable question marks throughout the lineup. The forward group remained relatively untouched outside of swapping Jake Voracek for Cam Atkinson. It looks like they’ll be banking on some interior options to come through yet again, despite that method having less than stellar results over the last few years.

We all know Alain Vigneault loves to shake up his lines on a fairly regular basis, so it’s possible any combination can happen at any time, but what are the best options on paper for the Flyers to succeed with the lineup as currently constructed?

The biggest pivot point in the lineup is Claude Giroux. He’s one of the only players on the team who can play either wing or center and, as he continues to age and the depth on wing piles up, the question has emerged as to where exactly he’ll start the season.

Giroux at LW

Giroux – Couturier – Konency

Farabee – Hayes – Allison

Van Riemsdyk – Laughton – Atkinson

Lindblom – Laczynski – Aube-Kubel

The first option is keeping Giroux on the top line left wing, a place he’s called home for much of the past four seasons. This seems like the best go-to option in terms of talent and chemistry and the top six looks very familiar. The top line of Giroux, Couturier and Konecny, have been together for a majority of the last few seasons. The trio of Farabee, Hayes and Allison were put together once Allison got recalled to the NHL last season and they immediately formed chemistry. While Laughton at 3C may not be an ideal place for him, being flanked by Van Riemsdyk and Cam Atkinson is a luxury most teams couldn’t afford. It’s a trio that will be very responsible defensively and perfectly capable of handling themselves offensively as well.

Giroux at C

Farabee – Couturier – Konecny

Van Riemsdyk – Hayes – Atkinson

Lindblom – Giroux – Allison

Laczynski – Laughton – Aube-Kubel

A popular theory that has been floated around is moving Claude Giroux back to center and demoting him to the third line in a move that is twofold, it limits Giroux’s minutes as he continues to age, and it coronates Joel Farabee as the team’s top line winger. This move also elevates Lindblom to a more practical middle-six winger role rather than a fourth liner, and he and Giroux developed some decent chemistry when they were put together on the third line late last season. Overall it gives the Flyers reassurances down the middle and a much wider array of options when it comes to divvying up the wingers. If this (or something similar) isn’t the lineup out of the gate, expect it to happen at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Morgan Frost at 3C

The other player that will ultimately decide where things end up shaking out is rookie forward Morgan Frost. The 22-year-old is coming off a season ruined by a shoulder injury and he has only played four periods of hockey since March of 2020. It’s unclear as to whether he will make the roster out of camp, but the glaring hole at third line center may have his name all over it. If he can finally step up and not only claim an NHL spot but succeed in it, it opens many more doors when it comes to the Flyers getting creative in their lineups.

Giroux – Couturier – Konecny

Farabee – Hayes – Allison

Van Riemsdyk – Frost – Atkinson

Lindblom – Laughton – Aube-Kubel

This lineup roles similarly to the first one, but the depth center role gets solidified with Frost at 3 and Laughton at 4. If we’re rolling with the assumption that Frost doesn’t look out of place in the NHL, that gives them four solid lines to deploy, and also the freedom to move players up and down the lineup as Vigneault sees fit. It is also the best way on paper to roll the four best theoretical lines possible.

Morgan Frost at Wing

Giroux – Couturier – Konency

Farabee – Hayes – Frost

Van Riemsdyk – Laughton – Atkinson

Lindblom – Laczynski – Allison

This approach gives Morgan Frost the best chance to succeed in with the Flyers. He’s a playmaker, plain and simple, it’s where his bread will be buttered in the NHL. Removing him from center, and more importantly the bottom six, gives him a chance to put his offense on display without the responsibilities that being a center in the NHL calls for.

If the top line trio stays together, that means Frost will more than likely line up with Joel Farabee, the team’s leading goalscorer last season. Partner Frost’s playmaking abilities with a player that knows how to finish and that transition from the minor leagues to the NHL becomes that much easier for Frost.

It’ll cause some chaos on the right side, but isn’t entirely unprecedented either. When Farabee was a rookie, he was deployed all throughout the lineup. from first to fourth line winger, and with the amount that Vigneault juggles his lineups anyway, there’s no reason to think Wade Allison won’t have a cup of coffee down there at some point anyway. It may no the best option, but catering to Frost and the possible success that comes with it can have positive effects that a messy bottom six won’t cloud the water too badly.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: dailyfaceoff.com / fansided.com / youtube.com

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