Teams: Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Rest of Europe,
The second to last team we will be entering into the Flyers’ World Cup of Hockey will be the United States. Though the majority of Flyer players have come from Canada, there has always been a steady American presence throughout the organization, and as of late, the Flyers have nearly made a trend of drafting American players in the high rounds, with Joel Farabee, Cam York, and Bobby Brink being recent examples of this.
Perhaps one day those players could be included in a list such as this, but for now, we look to the past and our more immediate present, rather than the future, as I present you with Team USA:
G - Brian Boucher
When picking the goaltender for this team, I was left, realistically, with three options: John Vanbiesbrouck, Brian Boucher, and Robert Esche. Out of those three, I feel as if it would be a disservice not to pick Boucher then. He is easily the most memorable goaltender of the bunch, and his performances in the Flyers’ 2009-10 playoff run alone make him deserving of the position.
While he now can be seen with NBC on the NHL broadcast team, Boucher got his start with the Flyers during the 1999-00 season, having initially been drafted by the club in 1995. He was part of the all rookie team, and received Calder and Vezina trophy votes. After his initial three year tenure with the Flyers, he would return for two years starting in 2009-10, and then again for one year in 2012-13 after a layover in Carolina.
Boucher would play in 174 games, compiling a 0.904% save percentage and winning 73 games.
LD - Shayne Gostisbehere
The Flyers haven’t had many standout American defensemen who aren’t named Mark Howe, so Gostisbehere is an easy choice to make this lineup. You’d be going with two offensive defensemen (well you could make the argument Howe is more a two way player), but it is a risk I’m willing to take!
Though many fans have become frustrated with Ghost’s play in recent years, and though it appears management have soured on him slightly, when he is playing well, he can be one of the most impactful players on the ice. His incredible rookie season of 2015-16 saw him break the point streak record for a rookie defenseman, scoring points in 15 straight games as he helped propel the Flyers to a playoff spot. Though his form can only be described as “inconsistent” from that point on, Gostisbehere is still a highly talented player who can become a game-breaker when he has confidence.
In 340 games, Ghost has scored 199 points.
RD - Mark Howe
The hall-of-famer and Flyer legend was one of the league’s premier blue-liners during the 1980’s, though his career started in the 1970’s and ended in the 90’s. Howe joined the Flyers via trade after having played for Hartford in the WHA and NHL, and Howe would have an instant impact, making the all-star team in his first season with the club. By the time the Flyers would have their first showdown the the dynastic Oilers, he was one of the team’s leaders.
Paired with Brad McCrimmon, Howe and the Flyers were one of the best defensive teams of the era, yet Howe also made his mark offensively, scoring 480 points in 594 Flyer games.
LW - John LeClair
One of my personal favorite players growing up, LeClair was the primary goal-scorer on the feared Legion of Doom line that dominated the league in the 1990’s. He was big, strong, and a monster from both down low near the crease (it was the 90’s so not in it!) and from the circles where he would unleash his powerful slap-shot.
LeClair joined the Flyers in 1994-95 (along with Eric Desjardins) in the trade that send Mark Recchi to the Canadiens, and would become known for both his time with the Legion of Doom, and for his role on the early 2000’s teams where he was a veteran presence for young players like Simon Gagne. LeClair would spend 10 seasons with the Flyers, until signing with the Penguins in 2005-06 after the lockout (I hated typing that).
In 649 Flyer games, LeClair scored 643 points.
C - Jeremy Roenick
Roenick is most notably remembered as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, where he played his best hockey. However, we must not forget his three year tenure with the Flyers from 2001-02 to 2003-04. Scoring 173 points in 216 games, Roenick was one of the Flyers’ best players in the era immediately proceeding the departure of Eric Lindros, and was one of the first players brought in during the Bill Barber era, when nobody really knew what the identity of the Flyers was.
Though Roenick was far from the best version of himself at this time, he scored one of the most memorable goals in Flyers’ history, as he sent the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals on 2003-04. I’ve included the worst possible quality of video to give you an authentic experience:
RW - James van Riemsdyk
JVR is thoroughly deserving of being on this list, despite the criticism he receives on a regular basis. Initially drafted by the Flyers in 2007, van Riemsdyk was infamously traded to the Maple Leafs before the 2012-13 season, and returned to the Flyers in 2018-19 after having established himself as an effective goal scorer. Though he perhaps hasn’t lived up to the contract that was handed out to him, van Riemsdyk is still a very good player, and the nature of his game, being a goal-scoring winger, means he will naturally be streaky.
In his Flyers’ career, van Riemsdyk has scored 187 points in 328 games, and looks to add on to that total in 2020-21.