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Season Preview 2019-20: Philadelphia Flyers

The young blueliners took a step back and the goaltending was atrocious last season before the emergence of Carter Hart. There's reason for optimism in Philadelphia, however.

Can the young ‘D’ get back on track?
Back in 2017-18, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere looked like they were on the fast track to stardom. Provorov, in his sophomore campaign, put up 41 points and looked incredibly composed, while ‘Ghost Bear’ rang up 65 points in just his third NHL season. But last year the duo took a big step back, tallying 63 points total and making a lot of bad reads. This summer, the Flyers brought in a pair of veterans to bolster the back end in Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. Niskanen in particular proved to be a great role model while in Washington. Perhaps he can have the same effect in Philadelphia.

Is Kevin Hayes the answer?
The Flyers made a big commitment to Hayes over the summer, trading for his rights from Winnipeg and then signing the center to a seven-year deal worth $7.1 million per season. That’s a lot of money for a guy who has one 20-goal season and only hit the 50-point mark for the first time last season. Sure, Hayes plays a decent two-way game, but he’ll need to hit a new level to justify the payday. Sean Couturier is the undisputed No. 1 for the Flyers, and young Nolan Patrick still has a ton of room to grow after going second overall in the 2017 draft, but it’ll be hard to swallow if the Flyers end up paying more than $7 million a season for a third-line center.

How much should Carter Hart play?
Last season was a nightmare goalie campaign for the Flyers, as injuries and incompetence led to eight netminders making appearances for the squad. Hart, the highly touted rookie, was by far the best of the lot with a .917 save percentage, and he ended up leading everyone with 31 appearances. But he’ll be just 21 when the season begins, and the last thing Philadelphia can afford to do is ruin the prodigy. Bringing back Brian Elliott (who was the second-best of the eight) is a great security blanket for Hart, and Elliott has historically played better when he has internal competition. If the two can more or less split duty, Hart will be protected enough to face the ups and downs of his first full NHL campaign and likely thrive. If he proves he can handle more right away? Even better.

Stanley Cup Odds: 35/1

Rookie Watch
Though he played just one year of college hockey at Boston University, Joel Farabee proved he can be a difference-maker thanks to his skill, grit and undying motor. His goal is to make the Flyers, though the AHL is a good option, too. Morgan Frost and German Rubtsov will fight for forward spots as well.

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