As the 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers season starts to wind down, the focus has become on where the team will finish in the league-wide standings. It will surely be in the bottom ten, but the final placement is still in the fate of the team. Though where exactly the Flyers finish and what fans are rooting for has come under the microscope.
There are some fans openly rooting for the Flyers to lose as many of their remaining games as possible in order to secure the lowest positing and best lottery odds they can muster; While others are rallying around the improved effort the team has shown in the ice and are valuing that over whatever may happen in the draft.
There’s something sexy about effort. Especially after the Flyers spent the majority of the previous two seasons getting absolutely destroyed in lifeless games every night, seeing them have a bit of fight and pep in their step is a promising sign of things trending in the right direction and should be appreciated.
A lot of the young guys, both in the NHL and AHL, appear to be legit NHL-caliber players, albeit none seemingly possessing star-level talent.
And that seems to be where the path of fans diverge.
Some champion players like Morgan Frost and Noah Cates carving out niches as random middle-six forwards, while other seems to realize the team is going to need more than that to ever be competitive.
There’s nothing wrong with young players filling out the bottom nine forward group. Guys like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, Noah Cates, Joel Farabee, Wade Allison and prospects Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink, Olle Lycksell, Elliot Desnoyers eventually making up the bulk of the forward group is a solid accomplishment. But are any truly top line players?
Building a new foundation is probably better for the Flyers in the long haul. Having a team full of worthwhile players with upside is better than a team full of worthless talent with the lone diamond like Connor Bedard resting upon a gigantic turd.
Though the best case scenario is having both an up-and-coming roster with a superstar leading the way, and that is the point the pro-tank crowd is trying to make. It’s not discrediting what the team is doing or hoping that they fail, it’s realizing that this group still need someone to spearhead the “rebuild” and be the spark plug to help the other talent succeed. Appreciating the foundation that appears to be in place but finally wanting and admitting there needs to be serious help to pull them from the same abyss they’ve been stuck in for years.
The team has been starved of high-end talent for so long now. There hasn’t be a true worthwhile offense here since 2017-18 when Claude Giroux posted 102 points and Sean Couturier had his breakout campaign. They haven’t added a legitimate outside talent via trade or free agency since Chris Pronger in 2009, and 99% of their draft picks since that time have been disappointing on some degree or another.
The franchise declaring a rebuild stalls the hope that this is the summer that trend changes, meaning they have to hope the draft and lottery leading up pans out in their favor to add a notable player to the roster that desperately needs it.
Ever since the days of Ron Hextall’s drafting, fans have been trained to admire the process. Buying into the hopes and dreams of certain players developing and saving the franchise in the near future. The problem? That hasn’t exactly come to fruition… like, ever.
Is it really in the Flyers’ best interest to have another random fifth to tenth overall pick? Even if this season’s draft is supposedly deeper than normal, what are the odds that guy ends up being the impact player they want?
The Flyers already have an unknown ceiling guy toiling away in Cutter Gauthier, is adding another really the goal when it comes at the cost of just a mildly improved main roster?
At the end of the day, fans can root for whatever direction they want, and who am I to fan police? But there is a more than valid reason for wanting this team to take a few more bumps before working their way out of the mess they’re created. You should be able to appreciate the hard work the main roster has put in for most of the season while also cheering for a couple extra losses in meaningless games in the dying days of the season if it gives them the lowest possible finish and best lottery odds. You never know what kind of miracles can happen.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)