Last week on “Choose your own adventure..”
“While the Flyers may have won the Stanley Cup thanks to our ingenious moves as the collective hive-mind GM, the story is not yet over. We have the 1997 NHL draft, the upcoming season, and much more to go. Next episode I will cover all of that, however, I will also be zooming forward in time at a quicker pace next episode, entering the 2000-01 season.”
I asked last week about how I should act as the GM of the Flyers going forward, and by a fairly large margin, you chose for me to act aggressively, though not quite to the level of Paul Holmgren. So...let’s get wheeling and dealing, and quickly get to the new millennium.
For a reminder, here is our current Flyers set up after the 1997 Stanley Cup victory:
For age reasons, I’m going to move on from Joel Otto and Paul Coffey, keeping in mind they are close to retirement anyway. I will also trade Ron Hextall to Tampa Bay, who at this point were in need of goaltending, for Alex Selivanov (30 point player), who will take Otto’s place. The backup goalie then will become the previously drafted Brian Boucher.
The Flyers will then pick up free agent Martin Straka and trade for defenceman Boris Mironov, giving up their second round pick in 1998, prospects Peter White and Craig Darby, as well as newly drafted goalie David Aebischer. The addition of Straka allows me to actively pursue another player to sure up the roster. So with that in mind, I will also trade Mike Ricci, a first round and third pick in 1998, and Petr Sykora to Phoenix for Keith Tkachuk. While these are of course approximations based on the valuation of players at the time, I think those deals were very fair. So let’s see how the team looks going into 1997-98…
Instead of finishing third in the Eastern Conference as they did in 1997-98, they will take the second spot in the east, beating Montreal and Ottawa again in the second round, before bowing out in the Conference Final to the Washington Capitals, who were a team of destiny that season. They beat the Penguins who were led by Jaromir Jagr at his finest, so I won’t change that. However, in 1998-99, they do take the top seed, beating a weakened Penguins team, then Buffalo, and then Toronto to yet again make it to the Stanley Cup Final on the back of Patrick Roy and new free agent signing Doug Gilmour (Vinny Prospal was sent back down to the AHL). In the real world, Dallas won the Stanley Cup on Brett Hull’s controversial overtime goal, however, that doesn’t happen, and the Flyers win their fourth Stanley Cup in their history.
In the 1999-00 season, though the Flyers have a very strong regular season, they still lose in the Eastern Conference Final to the New Jersey Devils. While Eric Lindros will never be concussed in that series with the Flyers, they still can’t find a way past the Devils that year as they bring a championship back to Newark (ew). This is despite their free agent signings that year, depth forwards Kirk Maltby and Robert Lang, and defenseman Mattias Norstrom. Steve Duchesne was let go, and Maltby and Lang took the place of Trent Klatt and Alex Selivanov, who were both let go as well.
Because of previous trades, the Flyers pick nobody of note in the 1998 draft. However, the Flyers are still able to draft Justin Williams in the 2000 NHL draft. An interesting note is that since they have no positional need, they do not trade with Colorado to get the pick that would land them Roman Cechmanek. Additionally, since they traded their first round pick in 1998, they would not get to draft Simon Gagne. Instead, he is picked by St Louis.
So now we are at the 2000-01 season, with this lineup:
Now with this team, the Flyers almost certainly will take one of the top three spots in the Eastern Conference, so they’ll finish as runners up behind the Devils. This means they face Toronto, who they crush. Then, they face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who despite being fueled by Mario’s comeback, can’t beat the Flyers. This leaves a showdown with the infamous New Jersey Devils. Now, in the real season, they won the series and would lose to Colorado as Ray Bourque finally got his Cup win. However, with Patrick Roy (who won the Conn Smythe in 2001), the Flyers beat the Devils. They face the St. Louis Blues, who were led by Pierre Turgeon and Chris Pronger. Despite their strengths however, the Flyers muster enough to win their fifth Stanley Cup, With a veteran lineup, aided by young talent, they ride off into the sunset victorious, and enter the 21st century with optimism and hope for the future...
Now, this will conclude the story for now. I am going to give it a bit of a rest, and if there is enough demand, I can either bring back this arc, or start an entirely new one. That choice will be up to you at the time...
Thank you all for reading, and go Flyers!