If defense wins championships, the Flyers will soon be beasts – assuming they can find goaltending by 2019-20.
Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
If the Flyers can time everything right, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2019-20. But it’s a bit of a high-wire act. Excellent drafting and signing under GM Ron Hextall has stocked the bins full of prospects, many of whom we have already seen (Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny) or are about to see (Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, for example). Now, can Philadelphia’s players all sync up at the same time? Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds will all be 30 or older by then, with a lot of miles on them. On the other hand, that’s not ancient, and kids like Konecny and Nolan Patrick will certainly help up front.
The blueline will be a huge strength, even though Andrew MacDonald will still technically be on the payroll. Really, coach Dave Hakstol has a great competition on his hands, since we didn’t even have space for Robert Hagg or Mark Friedman.
In net, the Flyers may run into trouble (big shocker there). Carter Hart is the future No. 1, but he’ll still be pretty young in 2020. Right now, the Flyers are going with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. Neither veteran will be around that long.
GOT IT: Defensemen – and skilled ones, at that. Provorov is already looking like a surefire top pair guy, while Gostisbehere has shown high upside. Sanheim, Myers and Morin are all towers, with mobility in the first two and physicality as Morin’s calling card.
NEED IT: The Flyers need a bridge until Hart is ready to be the top goaltender. And heck, it might not even be him – perhaps Felix Sandstrom or Matej Tomek seize the job instead (Hextall, the former goalie, has stocked up at the position). Anthony Stolarz should be a No. 2, but without knowing the free agency field right now, we slot him first, while Hart finds his NHL footing.
CAP WATCH: MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit is already a hindrance, but if the Flyers can move it somehow, all the better. Most of the young guns will be on either entry-level deals or bridge contracts by 2020, so Giroux and Voracek both making north of $8 million long-term isn’t a big deal.
BOTTOM LINE: If defense wins championships, the Flyers will soon be beasts – assuming they can find goaltending. Yes, the goaltending thing is a broken record, but until one of the kids steps up, it will be a question mark.
Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings | Edmonton Oilers | Florida Panthers | Los Angeles Kings | Minnesota Wild | Montreal Canadiens | Nashville Predators | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | New York Rangers | Ottawa Senators
Up next: Pittsburgh Penguins