NHL 31 Teams in 31 Days: Philadelphia Flyers

The NHL is less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Over this period we’re diving into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday we looked at Erik Karlsson & Friends the Ottawa Senators, today we head back across the border to the home of wonderful cheese steaks, the Liberty Bell, and the Philadelphia Flyers.

2016/17 record: 39/33/10

Key additions: Nolan Patrick, Brian Elliott, Jori Lehtera

Key losses: Steve Mason, Michael Del Zotto, Brayden Schenn

2017/18 prediction: Miss the playoffs

2016/17 wasn’t a good season for the Flyers, who started strong but struggled to maintain form and fell out of contention in the final fortnight of the season. The entry draft brought a silver lining to the Flyers’ cloud: the team was gifted the second overall pick. When the New Jersey Devils passed on projected top pick Nolan Patrick for Nico Hischier, the Flyers were quick to capitalise and grab Patrick.

Patrick wasn’t the only gain for Philadelphia, goalie Brian Elliott was picked up after his former employers in Calgary decided that after one season; things weren’t working out. Former shot-stopper Steve Mason was plucked from free agency by Winnipeg. Elliott had a fractionally better season in 2016 than Mason, although his save percentage of 0.910 was only 0.020 better than Mason’s. Elliott’s cap hit is only $2.75 million compared to Mason’s $4.1 million. That gives the Flyers options elsewhere.

The Flyers also saved a few bucks by trading Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera and a conditional 2018 draft pick. An unusual move as Schenn scored 55 points last season, compared to Lehtera’s 22. The Finn is a servicable 4th liner (so we like him!) but definitely is a downgrade. Oskar Lindblom, drafted in 2014 by the Flyers signed an entry level contract with the team in May, so expect to see first or second line minutes for Lindblom early on in the season. The Flyers have made enough changes to mix up every offensive line, some of which are for the better, but as is often the way, it takes time for linemates to gel so despite the prowess of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds; this season will be difficult.

Del Zotto was picked up by Vancouver in free agency, so Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg, who have a total combined NHL experience of two games, are expected to graduate from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. All three have impressed in preseason, although Morin and Hagg are looking stronger.

The Flyers have made a lot of changes in the offseason and rebuilding teams rarely see immediate success. Philly’s fans will see a lot of experimentation as the season progresses, giving the young blood to the chance to learn from the older, more experienced players. As such, don’t expect the Flyers to storm the Metropolitan division this season, there are stronger teams who’ll keep Philly out of the playoffs.

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