Success is a word that typically doesn’t get associated with the Philadelphia Flyers much in 2022, but as the season is finally on the horizon, it’s hard to not at least get a little excited like a kid on Christmas morning, but knowing full well that your stocking is full of coal. What planets need to align for the Flyers to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat during the 2022-23 season?
Number 5: Youth Movement
The Flyers didn’t add any worthwhile names in free agency, so that means they must be expecting some internal growth to carry them through next season. Unfortunately, both Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink will start the season in the injured list, which takes out two big pieces of potential out of the gate, but with guys like Owen Tippett, Noah Cates and Cam York all probably making the opening night roster, they’re hoping the injection of youth can give a good platform to build on moving forward.
Brink and Farabee should return before the midway point of the season, and it’s possible someone like Tyson Foerster makes the jump to the pros and tweeners like Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison make the full-time jump to the NHL as well. If the stars align this season, there may finally be some worthwhile young players in Philly.
Number 4: The Defense
The 2022-23 Flyers are going to live or die by their defense. It’s the position with the most upside but also a non-zero chance it turns into a complete disaster. Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngleo, Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen and Cam York and Justin Braun are more than likely your opening night defense corps and the top four feels like a mess, but on the ice, they could turn out to be solid. Nobody expected the odd couple pairing of Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen to work out last season, but they both ended up defying expectations and working rather well together. Hopefully they pick back up where they left off last year and Provorov can replicate some of that magic with his new partner in Tony DeAngelo. If the on-ice chemistry is on point there’s hope, but if the top four are all stuck in their personal troughs it could be another long season for the Flyers.
Number 3: Healthy Centers
At one point during the 2021-22 season, all four of the Flyers starting centers were hurt. It was one of the main reasons the team didn’t stand a chance to have even a slight bit of success, but (at least as of now) everyone is healthy going into the 2022-23 season. While Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, Morgan Frost and Patrick Brown aren’t exactly the most lethal foursome ever assembled, but they should be good enough to stop the bleeding on a night-to-night basis, with Couturier and Hayes bringing a significant boost the the penalty kill as well. Other than Tanner Laczynski, who could very well make the opening night roster over Brown, there isn’t much internal help coming this season, meaning if the injury bug strikes again, the Flyers could be dead in the water before the season even takes off.
Number 2: Carter Hart
Carter Hart is the Flyers best player and needs to play like it every night. Full stop. We’ve seen all kinds of versions of Carter Hart over the last few years, from lights out in the 2020 playoffs to whatever he was doing during 2021. The hit or miss nature of his play can be chalked up primarily to the lackluster team around him, but it doesn’t absolve Hart of the inconsistencies that he’s been plagued with over the last few seasons. He’s already entering the fifth season of his career and it’s time to stabilize his play. Again, a lot of his success will be determined by how much support the team around him gives, and considering the roster on paper is relatively disappointing, we can only hope that Hart is ready to stand on his head on a nightly basis in 2022-23, it’s the best chance the Flyers have to make any noise at all during the season.
Number 1: John Tortorella
The Flyers need a good kick in the pants and who better to deliver that than John Tortorella. It would be so much easier to be excited about Torts’ arrival if the roster was even slightly overhauled, but there is at least an interesting base. We know he doesn’t care for an overly flamboyant offense, and he certainly won’t have to worry about that in Philly. But the defense on paper could be decent this season, and with the return of Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes along with Carter Hart in net, there is at least a decedent chance he can squeeze some extra wins out of this team if he can get the team defense firing on all cylinders. It may not shape up to be the most exciting roster of all time, but maybe just maybe John Tortorella is a big piece in the answer to what currently ails the Philadelphia Flyers.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com