We’re months away from the trade deadline, but it’s never too early to assess the team and scope out which positions need help. The Flyers have come out of the gate hot with a 6-2-2 record and are playing some of their overall best hockey in years. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some kinks in the armor that could be addressed to give the team the best chance to succeed down the stretch and into the playoffs. So which positions should the Flyers look to improve?
Number 5: Left-Handed D
The Flyers’ defense is loaded on the left side, but the quality is hit or miss. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Keith Yandle are your top three guys right now, and Cam York and Egor Zamula are patiently waiting in the wings. Not to mention Samuel Morin and Nick Seeler hanging around as well. It’s best to assume that Morin and Seeler aren’t long-term fixes and the young guys aren’t ready for the show just yet. If an injury strikes or one of Sanheim and Yandle can no longer make the cut, it’s best to have a sure-thing lying around. Depth LHD are a dime a dozen and shouldn’t be too hard to find a decent fill-in as a “just in case” option.
Number 4: Depth Physical Winger
The Flyers did get some help in this category with they claimed Zack MacEwen off waivers, but they could use a bit more help. Nicolas Aube-Kubel has a physical edge to his game, but he is too often taking dumb penalties. If they can find someone who can be a wrecking ball, but a classy, self-aware wrecking ball to join the bottom six, it’ll go a long way to making the team even harder to play against, a bonus in the playoffs.
Number 3: Right-Handed D
The biggest additions the Flyers made during the offseason were Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen, their number one and two right handed defensemen. Both players already having stints on IR, with Ellis having an expansive injury history, have made the rebuilt right side a bit weak. Nick Seeler, who is a natural lefty, has filled in on the right side in their absence, has done a good job but is clearly in over his head. Their normal number seven defenseman, Samuel Morin, is also a lefty, so finding a solid right handed defenseman in a depth role should be a high priority just in case the injury bug strikes closer to the playoffs.
Number 2: Depth Scoring Winger
The Flyers depth has been a bright spot through the early part of the season. The third line has been a borderline-elite shutdown trio and the additions on the fourth line have worked well. but the seven players active on the third and fourth line- Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, James Van Riemsdyk, Zack MacEwen, Nate Thompson, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Patrick Brown- have a collective five goals and 11 points. So despite their defensive ability, they are going to need some help scoring to give them the best opportunity to succeed down the stretch.
Number 1: Second Line Center
The lack of center depth the by far the biggest question mark after Check Fletcher’s busy summer came to an end. He basically ignored the position, and when Kevin Hayes landed on IR to start the season, it highlighted an already weak position. Even when Hayes comes back, the Flyers will still need another legitimate middle-six center if they want their best odds to succeed come playoff time. We’ve looked at potential center options a few weeks back, but it will be up to Fletcher to finish what he started at the trade deadline.
by: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: dailyfaceoff.com