Today, we begin our annual look at the entire Flyers roster. One player at a time, one per day for the next month or so, we will take a look back at the 2015-16 season for each player. How did they perform? Did they live up to expectations or fall well below them, or somewhere in between? And what is the outlook for them going forward?
We'll do it randomly -- no specific order. So we start today with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, the 31 year old French forward who just completed his second NHL season and his second season in Philadelphia.
Bellemare was locked into the role of fourth-line center basically all season, mostly as part of the "Untouchables" line that included Ryan White and Chris VandeVelde on his wings. He picked up a good dose of penalty killing time as well, averaging about two and a half minutes on the PK per game.
|Age||31 (March 6, 1985)|
|Contract Status||Signed through 2016-17 for $712,500 per year|
2015-16 Regular Season Numbers (click buttons to expand)
|Total||5-on-5||Power Play||Penalty Kill||Other|
|Corsi For %||Corsi Rel %||Goals For %||PDO|
To sum it up succinctly, Bellemare is a perfectly capable fourth-line center. He's versatile enough to play an important special teams role, and he's decent enough at even strength. His contract is not a burden and he seems to be well-liked by his teammates. He doesn't hurt you with penalties (aside from that one bad hit in the playoffs against the Capitals). He's been a perfectly fine player.
But when you look at the Flyers from a higher perch, you know that they were one of the worst teams in hockey when it came to offense last season. Their penalty kill was absolute garbage for most of the season, and even though it had decent-ish underlying numbers, it was clearly one of the things that did the team in against Washington in the playoffs. It was bad.
Are those problems Bellemare's fault? They're bigger than him, but in part, sure. He's not really expected to score, but he still only scored 14 points in 74 games. That's 13th-worst in hockey among players who played at least 70 games. He's perhaps better than other bottom-six guys on this team in terms of driving play, but he's not anything special either. And the penalty kill -- well, everybody with those responsibilities has to be accountable for their poor season, which was certainly bad enough to warrant a shake up. The question then becomes whether or not the team believes he's worth keeping around to be part of a solution in these areas, or whether they think he's expendable.
Given that he's under contract for another season, Bellemare probably comes back for the 2016-17 season. The alternative would be a trade, and if there's somebody to come up from Lehigh Valley to replace any of these interchangeable third or fourth-line guys, getting a draft pick in exchange for any of them, Bellemare included, isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe you give a Taylor Leier or even a Colin McDonald one of these spots.
But it's evident that Dave Hakstol really likes that fourth line as assembled -- we've called them the Untouchables for a reason, after all -- and that may be enough to keep them around even if just for another year. Without dramatic team improvement in that bottom-six of the Flyers lineup, though, and with so many younger players in the pipeline, one more year could very well be it for Bellemare in Philadelphia.
Player Card (via hockeyviz.com)