Top 5: Biggest Positions of Need for the Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers are looking to get back to relevancy but have a roster that has more holes than a golf course. It’s going to take a Herculean effort to overhaul the roster during the 2023 offseason, and the faith that Chuck Fletcher, of all people, can lead the Flyers through this tough stretch that he himself helped create is rather low. But there are positions that need to be addressed far more critically than others, so if the Flyers do go looking for help, what should they be addressing first?

Number 5: Depth Goaltending

The emergence of Sam Ersson has given the Flyers a solid trio of goaltenders along with Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom, but there isn’t much talent behind them these days. Ivan Fedotov being abducted by the Russian military has made it unclear as to whether or not he has any future in North America, and the rest of the pipeline is tapped at the moment. Kirill Ustimenko fled back to Belarus during the 2022 offseason and the only other prospect is Aleksei Kolosov, the 21-year-old third round pick currently playing in the KHL, making any North American jump potentially tricky as well. They signed veteran Troy Grosenick to a one-year deal and has subsequently missed almost the entire season with an injury. They may have a solid three-way split in net right now, but they’re going to, one way or another, find a worthwhile fourth stringer for next season for the purposes of a “just in case” option.

Number 4: Goal Scorer

This isn’t an individual position as much as it is a desperate need for an upgrade from anywhere they could get it. The Flyers are ranked 26th in the league in goals scored coming out of the All-Star break with just 143 Goals For and a measly 2.8 Goals Per Game. After last summer where they passed on two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat and 115-point forward Johnny Gaudreau, they can’t take that kind restrained approach to the offseason again. Contrary to popular belief, scoring goals are still how you win hockey games, and it’s been too long since the Flyers had a legitimate scorer or two on the roster.

Number 3: Left Wing

For the obscene amount of depth the Flyers have at right wing, they’re practically barren when it comes to bodies to naturally fill the left side, something that will be even more noticeable if or when they part ways with James Van Riemsdyk. Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee have filled in on the left side, a role that Scott Laughton has played in the past as well, but that’s not the natural position for any of them. Other than Olle Lycksell, there really isn’t a prospect in the immediate pipeline either. They do have Cutter Gauthier, who is a left winger they’ve been trying to convert to center during his season in the NCAA, and it’s a role he may default to when he ultimately reaches the NHL, but they’ll probably give him a solid once-over at center before making that call. Luckily, it’s totally not like there was a top line left wing with ties to the area available last summer that could’ve filled this role perfectly.

Number 2: Right-Handed Defenseman

It’s wild that after a decade of drafting and four summers of Chuck Fletcher attempting to fill the gaping hole at RHD that there still isn’t a suitable long-term solution in the top four. Tony DeAngelo and Rasmus Ristolainen are still under contract next season, but neither are bonafide top guys. Prospect Ronnie Attard could make the jump to the NHL, but doesn’t seem to possess the talent to be a true 1RHD either. There should be a decent effort to overhaul the forwards this season and they can keep the defense to a ‘by committee” effort in the short-term, but the Flyers need to keep their eyes peeled for any potential player either via free agency or trade that could help insulate the right side of the defense.

Number 1: Center

Center is one of the most important positions in the sport, yet somehow the Flyers have ignored the growing need to address their weakness for years now. It’s almost an on-running gag at how badly the position has been mis-managed since Fletcher took over.

Morgan Frost’s play has slowly improved this season, but his overall ceiling still seems relatively low, and even though Sean Couturier is expected to return next season, who knows what kind of playing condition he is in after two back surgeries and missing over a calendar year, something that could extend to almost two years if he doesn’t return in 2022-23. The Flyers have tried and failed one too many times to rely on in-house options at center and it has bit them for years. Whether it comes via trade or free agency, the Flyers desperately need to make at least one legitimate upgrade at center if they want any actual chance to be competitive in the near future.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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