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Philadelphia Flyers 2023-24 Season Preview

Photo Credit: Heather Barry

The Philadelphia Flyers finished among the league’s seven worst teams the past two seasons, but it took until last March when Danny Briere was announced as the then-interim general manager for anyone in management to confirm they were embarking on a rebuild. Needless to say, Philadelphia is not planning a Stanley Cup parade. Despite their humble aspirations, Flyers fans are excited for what appears to be a logical front office and the opportunities that will be available for the organization’s young players this season as we bide our time until Matvei Michkov arrives.

Key Additions/Subtractions:

Briere showed he was more than just talk this summer. Kevin Hayes, who finished second on the team in scoring with 54 points last season, was dealt to St. Louis. James van Riemsdyk left in free agency. The team’s two leading defensemen in average time on ice, Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo, are both out. Justin Braun announced his retirement after playing 51 games for last year’s team.

Unsurprisingly for a rebuilding team, the Flyers didn’t take many big swings in replacing any of the guys that left. Sean Walker was acquired in the Provorov trade and figures to play a role on the right side of the defense. Marc Staal, a 16-year vet, is a familiar name but is in Philadelphia as more of a mentor. Early in training camp, John Tortorella said Staal is “not going to get in the way of the kids.” The Flyers also reshaped the bottom of their forward group, as free agent additions Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Poehling appear as if they will join Nic Deslauriers on the fourth line.


Someone in the Delaware Valley must have found a monkey’s paw, as the Flyers finally have a solid goaltender just as the skater group may be in worse shape than at any other point in franchise history. Carter Hart had another solid season in 2022-23, finishing with a .907 save percentage and 15th in the league with 10.3 GSVA per Money Puck.

The team does have a deep collection of capable wings, as well, featuring Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Cam Atkinson, Joel Farabee, and Scott Laughton.

The defense could be abysmal. Cam York had a solid 54 games last year and that makes him Eric Desjardins compared to the rest of this group. Much-maligned Rasmus Ristolainen actually cleaned up his play in the defensive zone, but sacrificed all of his offense in doing so. Travis Sanheim signed an eight-year extension just before the puck dropped on opening night a year ago, then proceeded to have a nightmare season that some time in the press box. Nick Seeler was rock solid on the third pair last season, but will be joined by Staal and Walker in trying to hold off a number of young defensemen, including Emil Andrae, Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning, and Egor Zamula. If nothing else, there will be plenty of opportunities should a rookie be ready to break through.

Biggest Questions:

Speaking of giant contracts gone wrong, Sean Couturier signed an eight-year extension worth $62 million before the 2021-22 season. He hasn’t played since December 2021 due to a pair of back surgeries. Couturier, the former Selke winner who will turn 31 in December, earned every dollar of that contract, but will he be the same player after such a significant injury and so much lost time?

Cam Atkinson, 34, also missed last year due to a neck injury. Can he still be relied on as a solid middle-six winger?

Last season, former first-round picks Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost took advantage of the opportunity provided by a roster in transition. Tippett, a key part of the Claude Giroux trade, broke out with 27 goals and Frost finished with 46 points. Both players should get plenty of opportunities. Can they take another step?

Star Players:

Does Gritty count? What about Michkov’s historic 19-year-old KHL season?

Okay, if I’m stuck with Philadelphia’s roster, we’ll have to use a very a liberal definition of “star,” but Konecny is probably as close as a Flyer gets. Konecny finished over the point-per-game mark with 61 in 60, including 31 goals. Konecny has 2 years left on his deal with a very reasonable $5.5 million AAV. There will be plenty of interesting discussions as to whether the Flyers will be better served extending or trading their offensive sparkplug.

Under-the-Radar Player Who Could Have an Impact:

Noah Cates moved from wing to center last year and earned Selke votes in his first full season. Think about how good he had to be defensively to garner that attention on such a forgettable team for a reputation award. Cates has all the makings of a solid bottom-sixer and unsung hero on a contender.

Key Rookie/Young Player:

Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster appear to be in a competition for a spot in the top nine.

Brink was a 2019 second-round pick who led college hockey in scoring in 2021-22 before an offseason labrum surgery derailed his 2022-23 campaign. Foerster came into camp as the favorite. A 2020 first-round pick, Foerster impressed with three goals and seven points in an eight-game stint in the NHL last year and led the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms with 48 points in 66 games. Whoever takes the last spot will have the opportunity to play with quality linemates and get power play time.

No matter who loses out, we can look to York, who missed the cut a year ago before establishing himself as a key part of the team’s future by the end of the year. York finished the year with a positive relative Corsi, but more impressively a 53.48 expected goals percentage. Despite minimal opportunities on the power play, he finished with 20 points in 54 games. York, the 14th overall pick of the 2019 draft, may quarterback the team’s top unit this year and has an opportunity to establish himself as a legitimate top-pair defenseman.

By the end of the season, we might also be talking about Cutter Gauthier. The fifth pick of the 2022 draft could join the Flyers at the conclusion of Boston College’s season and will be a key piece in the Flyers’ rebuild.

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