Top 5: Bold Flyers Predictions for 2023

The term “rock bottom” gets thrown around quite a bit when talking about the Philadelphia Flyers, but every time the phrase gets uttered, everything somehow just keeps getting worse. That said, 2023 is, one way or another, going to be a pivotal year for the Flyers. The brewing pot that has been bubbling up over the last couple years is going to boil over, and for better or worse, something is going to change, but what can we expect from the Flyers in the new year?

Number 5: Sean Couturier Returns

Sean Couturier will *probably* return in 2023 sometime, but what version of the former Selke winner that they will get is the big question. Two back surgeries to a 30-year-old player who wasn’t particularly fast or overly dynamic to begin with feels as though it could be a very bad combination that could lead to an underwhelming return and Couturier looking unfamiliar from the last time we saw him. He’s played just 29 games since the start of the 2020-21 season, with his last contest played on May 10, 2021. He hasn’t played a complete schedule since 2019-20 and hasn’t played a full 82-game campaign since 2017-18.

Number 4: Landing a Big Free Agent

It has been a hot minute since the Flyers have signed a notable free agent, let alone a true game-changing player. Chuck Fletcher’s M.O. has been staying away from big free agents, opting rather to add via trade. Though the 2023 offseason could be different. It’s shaping up to be one of the deepest markets in years and could feature some of the top players in the league today. If a big time center like Dylan Larkin or a premier scorer like David Pastrnak hit the market, there’s no reason the Flyers shouldn’t do whatever they have to to add them. The hoops they’re going to have to jump through to add that talent won’t be easy, but there is no good reason to once again sit on their hands when a franchise-altering move is so desperately needed.

Number 3: Re-signing JVR

Despite missing a good chunk of the season with a broken finger, JVR has actually been a relatively useful player when he’s been in the lineup, and it adds fuel to the nightmare that is re-signing the 34-year-old. He’s got 13 points in 15 games and has been extensively talked up as one of the locker room leaders right now. With very little funds available heading into the 2023 offseason and the general cowardice nature of Chuck Fletcher, it could be enticing to the colostomy bags in the front office to keep JVR around for another few years at a reduced cap hit.

Number 2: Trading Ivan Provorov

The Flyers have worked themselves into a real mess on their blueline with the questionable extension of Travis Sanheim. With an abundance of prospects all potentially earmarked for NHL action in the not-too-distant future and a very crowded, very expensive NHL blueline already, there may be a tough decision or two on the horizon. Sanheim’s extension keeps him under contract for eight years, and Cam York, despite some early mishandling from the organization, seems to be oozing with potential. So if they intend on giving him big minutes in the future, it may be Provorov that gets dealt to make that happen. While dealing Provorov is a messy can of worms to open, he’s also their best trade chip to add a high-end prospect or draft pick or two, and it’s just about whether or not they want to take that risk.

Number 1: Cutter Gauthier is a Star

The Flyers have been playing the draft game since 2014, and every single pick has been more underwhelming than the one that came before. But the 2022 fifth overall pick Cutter Gauthier may be different. He’s currently tearing up his freshman year at Boston College and has already expressed interest in joining the Flyers organization during the 2023-24 season. Now, as we know, what a player does in their pre-professional career doesn’t mean anything when they make their jump, but Gauthier raw skill seems to be more promising than various picks that came over the years. For the sake of the organization, they better hope they hit a home run on Gauthier, who needs to be the face of the franchise moving forward if the Flyers ever hope to get out of their endless abyss.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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