Even though the 2023 offseason hasn’t heated up yet and there are plenty of unknowns and changes that could take place, a bulk of the Philadelphia Flyers roster is expected back next season and there are already some storylines developing that will be the main talking points early in the 2023-24 campaign.
Number 5: Can the Youth Repeat?
Despite a bottom ten finish, the Flyers actually had quite a few positive steps taken from some of their young roster players this season. Noah Cates, Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost were the most notable standouts and the 2023-24 campaign will prove whether or not they can replicate their outputs or even improve upon them. If they can prove themselves as capable NHL forwards, it potentially establishes a new young core to build around moving forward. So was it all a fluke or do the Flyers have new building blocks to play with for years to come?
Number 4: Logjam at RW
This was a concern that we focused on in last year’s state of the union, but the problem ultimately never really came to fruition due to Cam Atkinson missing the entire season with an injury and Foerster was stuck in Lehigh for a majority of the campaign. Though with a new season and everyone (theoretically) healthy, it’s a chance to wonder how exactly the ice time gets divvied up. Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Wade Allison, Cam Atkinson, Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster could all conceivably make the opening night roster Do the Flyers trade high on TK? Do they “subtract” Allison who found himself in Tortorella’s doghouse? Do they just keep the prospects in Lehigh for another full season? Do they just throw them all on the main roster and only the strong survive? Only time will tell how the cramped right wing slot will work itself out.
Number 3: Sean Couturier’s Return
After missing 22 months undergoing two separate back surgeries, all signs indicate that Sean Couturier will return to the Flyers’ lineup for the 2023-24 season. Though the major question is what kind of player will he be when he returns? He’ll turn 31 in December and it’s practically unheard of that a player returns after nearly to years, let alone does it with any kind of success. Now, he wasn’t particularly fast or dynamic to begin with, so maybe there won’t be a big difference when he comes back, but if he struggles more than expected, it could be a very long seven years to wait out the remainder of his contract.
Number 2: Hart vs Ersson
The future of the Flyers in the crease was a storyline that picked up some steam during the 2022-23 season with the emergence of 23-year-old Sam Ersson, who played his first full season in North America and left everyone wanting more with his promising sample size. If Ersson snags the backup role away from Felix Sandstrom for the opening night roster and his play remains at a high level, it could provide a very compelling tandem for the season and give the front office some questions to ask as Hart enters the last year of his current deal before hitting restricted free agency next summer.
Number 1: Can the Torts Effect Work Twice?
John Tortorella’s unique coaching strategy brought the best out of the roster during the 2022-23 season, but the “82 game playoff” style can be a hard bar to maintain… especially when it doesn’t amount to making the actual playoffs. We’ve seen this team respond well to a coach during the first year, then completely give up on the second year and beyond (hello, Alain Vigneault) in recent seasons and if the hard work this team puts out there doesn’t pay off, the Tortorella effect may overstay its welcome much sooner than expected.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com