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Taking over as general manager and coach of the Flyers in Franchise Hockey Manager

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What if we, you know, ran the Flyers?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

So, in the midst of the effervescent void that is a suspended NHL season, I thought it would be fun to do a little experiment in regards to content, and put us (or rather me) in the drivers seat for this franchise.

If you aren’t aware of the game, Franchise Hockey Manager (FHM for short) is a series of PC/Mac games developed by the same company who publish Out of the Park Baseball, a long-standing simulation type game which is, well, baseball. I’ve been playing the trio of FHM, OOTP, and Football (Soccer) Manager for quite a while now, and am quite a fan of these types of games. We’re on to the sixth edition of FHM now, and in my current game with the Flyers, I’m in the 2036-37 season, and I’ve done quite well for myself:

For context, I did slightly change things up in that I disabled injuries to make the game run faster, manually added in a Seattle franchise with an expansion draft (I lost Shayne Gostisbehere this way), and manually adjusted the salary cap in accordance with predictions. You’ll also see that Alexis Lafreniere is the Flyers all time points scorer. He went to the Devils I believe at #1 overall in 2020, but I managed to put together a package deal Lindros style to get his rights (somehow).

However, I will be starting over from 2019-20 (with post-deadline rosters however) for this new save I will start and share with you. I will likely make all of the same manual edits to the game that I did in my personal save, minus the disabling of injuries, since that makes the game a bit more difficult and I like a challenge. Of course, I’ll be taking into account your suggestions on what I should do in the game, and from time to time will let you directly choose what I do, just as I did in the “choose your own adventure” series I wrote over summer.

For this first little “episode”, I’ll be running through the start of the game through the offseason, just up to the start of opening night.

Setting Up

To start things off, the game creates you a GM/Coaching profile for each new save, since you can also assign yourself as a coach to train players. Your personnel staff (mainly assistant coaches) all have ratings on what areas they train best in, and you as the head boss are no exception. You can alter your style at the beginning of the game to impact those ratings, however for me personally, I use the neutral balanced GM and Coaching profile (all ratings for coaching start at a relatively low to middling 7 out of 20), just because I have found this model to be most effective in the game since it leaves you will little weaknesses.

So now that brings us to our start screen:

Our top rated player is Claude Giroux with a four star current ability and four star potential (as he’s a veteran he’s unlikely to improve further at his age). Player ratings are calculated by taking a weighted percentage of 75% of the player’s natural ability with 25% of the player’s stats, with more emphasis on recent seasons than past seasons.

As you can see, Giroux’s natural ability ratings profile him as a playmaker (all ratings are out of 20 normally, some generational players exceed 20 such as Sidney Crosby).

Your scouts on the team will also give a little report on each player. In most cases, a four star player is a clear cut 1st line talent, an elite player but not generational. Most 3.5 star players and above would be considered first line talent, from 3.5 being a fringe 1st line clear 2nd line talent, to the 5 star players who are the best of the best.

So now that you can tell how the game works and how the game treats individual players, let’s go about setting up the team. I’ll more likely than not be making some changes to the roster, but first I’ll assess things and create a tactic:

To start, I decided to place Morgan Frost on the roster and sent down Nicolas Aube-Kubel, simply because in FHM he isn’t particularly well rated (only 1.5 stars). I’ve decided to keep things fairly standard with regards to lines, besides flipping Frost to 2C and putting Hayes at 3C. This is because I wanted to give Konecny and Voracek a playmaker in the middle to facilitate scoring chances on that line, whereas the 3rd line will have a more two-way player in Hayes. Also, yes I randomized the shootout spots. They don’t matter much to the game.

I’ve gone for a fairly fail-proof tactic which is a triangle offensive zone system to get guys open in good shooting positions, an aggressive as heck penalty kill, and attempt to activate the defensemen as much as I can. From personal experience, I’ve found as well that setting hits to low priority and back-checking to high priority helps with tactics that try to go more offensive, so I have done that.

Making moves

First off, I tried to sign Jaromir Jagr from Kladno, but it would only allow me to do so between July and August, so I could not.

However, I did manage to swing the following trade. I acquired Rasmus Ristolainen (with the Sabres retaining 30% of salary) for Justin Braun, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, a fourth round pick in 2021 and a third round pick in 2022. I also traded the rights to Corban Knight, but who cares.

Ristolainen comes in as a solid three star player who I wanted to put as the more ‘defensive’ defenseman alongside Ghost. I tried to essentially pair an offensive or two way player with a more shutdown defenseman as a general rule. I may flip the Provorov-Niskanen pairing to the top, but I will see as the season moves along. I was willing to move Braun before he even played a game with the Flyers just solely on the basis that I’m getting a better player at a cheaper cost who can do roughly the same job anyway.

I also managed to nab Filip Forsberg from Nashville (retaining 45% salary) for a 4th, 5th, 7th in 2022, as well as the rights to Bobby Brink. This one was a little harder for me to swallow, since I really like Brink as a prospect, but Forsberg is still a young player at 25 who, if Brink could be as good as Forsberg, would be considered a win, so I rationalized it that way.

Forsberg comes in as a strength in a sniper/perimeter shooter role at 3.5 stars with a 4 star potential. He’s a guy who I’m looking to put with Giroux and Couturier to give them a shooter to pass to. It means that my lines heading into opening day (assuming full health minus Patrick and Pitlick who are out) look like this:

Also here is a final look at the Flyers’ roster from an overview perspective. Note that Sean Couturier is now rated at 4 stars for whatever reason. To be fair though, ratings are consistently changing with performance.

There’s also another interesting bit of news, which is that the game has us as outsiders to mount a cup challenge:

Anyway, that will do it for this first introduction to the series. I’ll wait a day or two before starting the season, listening to your comments on potential things to do. I’ll then go through around a quarter to half-way through, updating in an article along the way in near real time.