What’s a Realistic Timeline for the Flyers?

The Philadelphia Flyers, now led by interim general manager Danny Briere, are seemingly going down the path of a rebuild; at least that’s the message Briere has been preaching leading up to the offseason. It has poured gasoline on an already interesting question that is the timeline back to competition for the Flyers.

The 2022-23 season actually boasted quite a few positives and potential building blocks for the future. Players like Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett indicated that they may actually be NHL-caliber forwards, veteran Travis Konency had a career year and players like Noah Cates and Cam York are enticing young players to build a future on.

Yet even with the on-ice positives, interim GM Danny Briere has spoken of a rebuild, which seems counterintuitive to the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach they could be taking after a season in which they finally seemed to be trending in the right direction.

There’s two sides of the coin when it comes to Briere’s inexperience- it could be a disaster when it comes to making changes because he just doesn’t have the experience to craft a high-caliber deal… but it could also mean he’s hungry and could be looking to make an impact, one way or the other, immediately.

Last week, we analyzed the potential outcomes of Briere’s push for a rebuild. It could just be a smokescreen to keep the immediate hopes of the fanbase rather low so they don’t lose their minds if a big deal doesn’t materialize this summer, but it could also be the classic Ron Hextall rebuild-not-rebuild that we all lived through a decade ago, but it could also mean he’s actually going to deconstruct the roster and, ya know, rebuild the team.

It just seems like an odd approach for Briere to seemingly slam on the brakes stalling any forward momentum for a sped up process. If there’s no interest in making a smart outside addition or two and instead they’re just going to run it back with a nearly identical roster, it’s basically a complete waste of a season. That hopefully isn’t the plan here.

Realistically, the 2023 offseason will set the pace when it comes to establishing a timeline, being heavily dependent on what moves are (or are not) made during the summer.

At this point, given the lackluster options remaining in 2023 free agency the smartest approach for the Flyers would be to move a few players on the main roster, call up some of the top prospects in the AHL like Tyson Foerster and Ronnie Attard and let the next wave of youngsters gain valuable NHL experience so the season isn’t lost entirely.

It’s a “rebuild” in a sense, but with enough in-house NHL-ready prospects that there isn’t a half decade of pain and suffering in front of them waiting to accumulate the prospect pool in the first place, but rather just another season two until everyone gets their feet wet at the NHL level and their ceilings are better understood. Clearing a few vets and installing even more youth may be the best potential outcome for the Flyers for the 2023-24 season, even if it means a fourth consecutive year of missed playoffs.

At least another season for Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink, Egor Zamula, Ronnie Attard, Elliot Desnoyers, Olle Lycksell to make the main roster and get acclimated to the NHL to see whether or not they’re long-term solutions with the big club. At the end of next season they’ll have a good idea of which players are capable of sticking around in meaningful roles and which need to get replaced by actual talent via trade and free agency.

There’s also the 2023 draft lottery which could change things tremendously if a miracle were to happen. One has to assume if the Flyers somehow defy the odds and land the first overall pick and draft superstar Connor Bedard, the fortunes will change much quicker than taking a random player at seventh overall.

Either way, the 2023 first round pick will unite with Cutter Gauthier as the organization’s top two prospects.

Gauthier, their winger-turned-center 2022 first round pick opted to return to college, so they’ve got at least another season to wait before they can start to dissect what he will mean to the team. If the Flyers stick at seventh overall, they could draft someone like Will Smith, who is college bound (to the same school as Gauthier) which delays the arrival of both players until at least 2024-25 if not longer.

Realistically, the Flyers don’t have to be that far away from competition again, but it all comes down to how aggressive the franchise wants to push them to get there. If they’re not lucky enough to win the lottery and the front office keeps the team in neutral for longer than they actually have to, it’s going to be years before the Flyers even see postseason action again let alone anything beyond that. Though a few smart moves utilizing both addition and subtraction and all of a sudden forward momentum is gained and hope can be restored.

The timeline really does lie in the hands of Danny Briere and we’ll have a much better idea about the kind of style the first-time GM will bring to the table when the 2023 offseason comes to a conclusion. A little bit of luck and smart moves and the “rebuild” can be fast-tracked. Though a little bit of intentional stalling and refusal to make changes and get ready for more years of total irrelevance.

Two to three years away is so cliché at this point after hearing it from the organization for nearly ten years now, but it could very well be real this time if proper action is taken. Though if they do choose to rebuild, either properly or improperly, we could be looking at at least another six to eight years of painful mediocrity.

Which path does Briere choose?

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: Getty Images


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