The Philadelphia Flyers look like they’ll either be one of the Eastern Conference wild cards in the upcoming playoffs or possibly miss it altogether, but that isn’t slowing down their fans from being positive about the future. Following a long 2018-19 season and offseason of change both in terms of personnel on and off the ice, nearly all fans of the Orange and Black like the direction the club is heading.
When asked about their confidence in the direction of the team, 96.46 percent of Flyers’ fans that voted said they were confident while only 3.54 percent said they weren’t. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2012 and have missed four of the last seven postseasons, but there are reasons to like where this team is heading.
For starters, there is plenty of young talent both on the team or about to make an impact on the team. I know, that’s been the refrain for years around here, but this might be the first season to actually believe in the hype. Carter Hart introduced himself to the league last year and his numbers may not be spectacular this season, but he’s been pretty solid for a 21-year-old netminder. Ivan Provorov (23 years old) looks like a surefire top-pair blue liner for years to come. Travis Sanheim (also 23 years old) is a 6’4” d-man that utilizes his high-end skating to both prevent chances against and single-handedly create offense himself. Phil Myers is another 23-year-old giant that has all the tools to succeed in the NHL, but just needs to make better decisions with and without the puck (which he has the last few games).
Up front there are a few question marks due to unfortunate health concerns with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, but the Flyers still have young forwards to be pumped about. Travis Konecny is the team’s most dynamic forward with two 24-goal seasons to his credit and is on pace for 26 this season while being locked up long term...and has yet to turn 23 years old. Joel Farabee left Boston University after just one season and just had a two-goal game in the NHL as a 19-year-old while looking like he deserves to be here the whole time. Morgan Frost is currently in the AHL, but he showed flashes of the talented playmaker he’ll be one day in the NHL in his limited experience at the highest level and already has this bad boy to his credit. All of this without mentioning that the team’s first two picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Cam York and Bobby Brink, who look promising as well despite being a few seasons away from being in the Orange and Black.
On top of the young guns, what probably makes most fans confident about the direction of the team is the new general manager and head coach. Former GM Ron Hextall did a great job of replenishing the farm system and digging the team out of the mess Paul Holmgren left behind, but he failed to do the simple things to help make the NHL product succeed and was seemingly married to an incompetent head coach. Current general manager Chuck Fletcher has shown he’s both capable of adding to the team’s prospect pool and improving the organization’s NHL squad with a few moves that were questioned at first last summer but not many people would argue at the moment. The trade for Matt Niskanen, giving up picks for Justin Braun, and giving Kevin Hayes a lengthy contract weren’t slam dunks, but since they’ve all paid off more than some fans could have imagined it goes a long way in building confidence among the fanbase.
As for Alain Vigneault, many people knocked the hire because he failed to win a Stanley Cup with Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist, but he’s definitely been a nice replacement for former head coach Dave Hakstol. Vigneault’s system has vastly improved the team’s defense, he manages the goalies correctly, and he doesn’t sit with an unproductive line or pair for too long. We’ve yet to see how he’ll do in a playoff series, but the early returns on AV indicate we’ll enjoy his time as head coach more than Hakstol’s.
The Flyers are far from a lock for the playoffs at the moment, but it’s clear to see why their fans feel confident about the direction of the team going forward.