Who Makes the Bottom Six?

Ah, the Philadelphia Flyers bottom six forward group. Scapegoats for some, a place where talent goes to die for others. Over the course of the last decade, the Flyers haven’t exactly flaunted a dangerous bottom six. With players like Jori Lehtera, Chris Vandevelde and Dale Weise among others holding down the fort in the past, the struggles come as no surprise.

But there is a new era forming. The Flyers are in full-on-go-time in terms of icing a competitive roster, and they will rely on a mixture of youngsters and veteran depth signings to reinforce the bottom two lines. The Flyers’ being top heavy on the wings is actually a good problem to have in this scenario. It means the bottom-six isn’t composed entirely of scrubs as it has been recently.

The Talent

James Van Riemsdyk, Oskar Lindblom, Cam Atkinson and Travis Konecny

On paper, the Flyers actually have a pretty deep forward group with plenty of potential lineups to role in any situation. Given their depth, some talented players will spill outside of the top six. The wings will provide the deepest runoff as there is an abundance of talent on the flanks. Right now, seemingly the only two locks for top six wing would be Claude Giroux and Joel Farabee, both of which can play either side, but typically they’re left and right respectively. That means two of the four of JVR, Lindblom, Atkinson and Konecny will claim the remaining top six winger spots and the last two will take residency on the third line. Having any of these guys on the third line is a bit of a luxury, so they will help insulate whoever claims the 3C spot.

The Vets

Derek Brassard and Nate Thompson

The newest addition and returning face were obviously brought in for a reason. Brassard and Thompson have a combined 1,716 NHL games between them. They may be over the hill in their individual career, but bring plenty of leadership to the table and know how to handle themselves in a bottom six role in the NHL. Given Fletcher didn’t properly address the hole at 3C during his busy offseason, the combination of veterans will have to hold down the fort for a majority of the season until a young internal option is ready, or the trade deadline roles around and Fletcher can have another shot at addressing the need.

The Youth

Morgan Frost, Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski

The vets were brought in as insulation and an insurance policy just in case some internal options don’t work out. Both Frost and Laczynski are returning from surgery and could very well find themselves in the AHL to start the season. Wade Allison, on the other hand, has made himself quite the interesting commodity during his first professional season. He recorded four goals and nine points in 10 games with the Phantoms before his recall where he put up four goal and seven points in 14 games. As a natural winger, expect Allison to be the most likely to claim an NHL spot out of the gate.

The In-Between

Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Scott Laughton

There are two names that are hanging around that aren’t quite vets yet but aren’t really youth anymore either.

Scott Laughton is just about a guarantee to make the roster in some form or fashion, but it’s unclear where exactly he’ll fit in. He’ll more than likely fill a utility “Swiss army knife” roll and adapt to wherever he ends up. Given the additions of Brassard and Thompson, is seems like he’ll start the year on the fourth line, probably on the left wing.

As for Aube-Kubel, he has been a bit of a double-dealing player during his first two NHL seasons. He seemed like a near-perfect depth forward during 2019-20. A guy with speed, physicality and an hell of a shot to go along with it. Then he regressed something fierce during 2021, as a reckless, penalty-taking winger who didn’t produce offense at the same clip as the season previous. If Wade Allison does indeed make the roster out of camp, Aube-Kubel could find himself as the 13th forward for parts of the season.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: nhl.com / markerzone.com

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