Coming off a disappointing 82-point effort last season, the Philadelphia Flyers are poised to bounce back in 2019-20. While the defense remains a concern, Philadelphia did an admirable job of solidifying their attack in the off-season. Of course, a team is only as good as its goaltender. If they plan on making the playoffs, the Flyers will need their 21-year-old netminder to perform.
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher did well to land Kevin Hayes in the off-season, even if it was a bit of an overpay. Hayes’ presence on the second line means Philadelphia no longer must rely on Nolan Patrick or even Claude Giroux to be their number-two pivot. Fletcher also worked a pair of trades to bring in Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun to strengthen the blue line.
The Hayes signing had a domino effect on the depth of the team, with plenty of players now slotted to start in the bottom-six that can jump up the lineup in a moment’s notice. Hayes’ presence should also allow Philly to return to playing Giroux exclusively with Sean Couturier at 5v5. Travis Konecny is the ideal winger to join them on the top line, but he remains without a contract. Should his holdout extend into the regular season, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, and Oskar Lindblom could all fill in for Konecny on the first line.
Claude Giroux (C/LW/RW)
- — Giroux did an admirable job of following up his 102-point effort from 2017-18 last season. He scored just 22 goals but added a whopping 63 assists for 85 points in 82 games. His usage should continue to be through the roof this season, and you can draft him confidently knowing he won’t be forced into playing any time at centre this season. Last year’s slightly inflated on-ice SH% suggests Giroux’s production might continue to fall off a tad, but he’s still a safe bet for 75 points. His triple-position eligibility gives him a slight edge over the other forwards in his tier.
Sean Couturier (C)
- — Couturier logged 33 goals and 43 assists in what his second-straight 76-point campaign in 2018-19. Given his sky-high usage, it’s hard to imagine Couturier’s ceiling being any higher than what we’ve already seen. The one area where he could improve is on the power-play, where he picked up just eight goals and nine assists last season. He still doesn’t have as much upside as the centres going before him, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more reliable 70-point man on draft day.
Jakub Voracek (RW)
- — Unsurprisingly, Voracek was not able to replicate the 35 power-play points he registered in 2017-18, which led to a 19-point drop off for the 30-year-old Czech. He also spent most of his 5v5 time on the second line, as Konecny solidified his spot on Couturier’s right-wing. If Konecny’s holdout causes him to miss time, it could have a positive impact on Voracek’s production. Either way, playing with Hayes and JVR on the second line is a fine consolation. The lack of goal-scoring limits his upside, but you can bank on another 65-point effort from Voracek.
James van Riemsdyk (LW)
- — The change of scenery didn’t take a huge toll on JVR’s production in 2018-19. He picked up 27 goals and 21 assists, but a lower-body injury limited him to 66 games. There’s still room for his ice time to grow, and he should continue to be a staple on the man advantage. If JVR can stay healthy, there’s no reason why he can’t get back to 30 goals this season.
Travis Konecny (RW)
- — Assuming he’s signed and ready to go for the start of the season, Konecny is an obvious breakout candidate for 2019-20. He picked up 24 goals and 25 assists while playing just 15:16 a night as a 21-year-old. The Flyers have about $6.5M left in cap space with just Konecny left to sign, so it’s hard to imagine a deal not getting done in time for the regular season. Konecny has tremendous upside and could easily flirt with a 30-30 season if he gets the ice time and opportunity his play warrants.
Kevin Hayes (C)
- — While his addition is a huge boost to the team’s playoff hopes, Hayes should be largely irrelevant in standard fantasy leagues. He won’t see anywhere near the 19 minutes he averaged with the Rangers, and I wouldn’t bet on him leapfrogging any of the Flyers’ offensive stars for power-play time. Hayes projects to finish the season around 50 points, giving him nothing more than streaming status in 12-man leagues.
Oskar Lindblom (LW)
- — Lindblom has been very productive with limited ice-time and opportunity, but I wouldn’t expect his usage to change any time soon. With Giroux, Konecny, Voracek, and JVR all ahead of him on the depth chart, it will likely take an injury or two before we see a spike in Lindblom’s ATOI. He did register 17 goals and 16 assists while playing less than 14 minutes a night, so the upside is there, but with his current usage he’s only worth owning in the deepest of leagues.
The Braun acquisition seems inconsequential, but Niskanen should be a calming presence on the young blueline, even if his best days are behind him. Travis Sanheim proved himself to be a capable top-four defenseman and should continue to cut into Shayne Gostisbehere’s ice-time. Despite a disappointing performance last season, Ivan Provorov should continue to see the heaviest usage and the most difficult matchups on the Flyers’ blueline. Robert Hagg was effective in a limited role last season, picking up 20 points while playing less than 17 minutes a night. The arrivals of Niskanen and Braun mean Hagg’s usage won’t be going up anytime soon.
Shayne Gostisbehere (D)
- — Philadelphia’s drop-off in power-play production took an especially hard toll on Gostisbehere. The 26-year-old blueliner registered just 37 points last season, nearly a 30-point decline from the year before. He scored four goals and added ten assists with the man advantage, compared to 33 power-play points in 2017-18. The Flyers’ power-play should be better this year and Gostisbehere’s production should bounce back as a result, but Sanheim’s emerging presence casts doubt over the Ghost Bear’s ability to get back to 60 points. Gostisbehere’s ATOI was 19:40 last season, nearly a full two-minute decrease from the 2017-18 season.
Travis Sanheim (D)
- — In a year where Gostisbehere and Provorov both struggled mightily, Sanheim’s arrival as a top-four defenseman was a welcomed sight. He was arguably the team’s most reliable defenseman in all situations last year and is a serious threat to the ice-time and opportunity of both Gostisbehere and Provorov. Sanheim scored nine times with 26 assists last season while playing less than 20 minutes a night, so there is certainly a lot of upside here.
Ivan Provorov (D)
- — From a fantasy perspective, Provorov has failed to take advantage of the sky-high usage bestowed upon him. He registered just seven goals and 19 assists across a full 82 games despite playing over 25 minutes a night. The most concerning issue was probably the drop in shot volume. Provorov had just 145 shots on goal after registering 203 the year before. With his ice-time set to take a hit this season, especially on the man advantage, it’s hard to be optimistic about Provorov’s fantasy value in 2019-20.
At just 21-years-old, Carter Hart is the uncontested number-one in Philadelphia heading into the 2019-20 season. He impressed with a .917 SV% and a 2.83 GAA in 31 appearances last season. For a team that projects to be on the playoff bubble, Hart’s performance is crucial to the team’s success. Brian Elliott will serve as Hart’s backup and could cut into his playing time if the young netminder struggles early. Elliot posted a mediocre .907 SV% with Philly last season, but his consistency makes him the ideal backup. It was the eight-straight season the 34-year-old registered a SV% of .907 or better.
Carter Hart (G)
Hart looked every bit the part of star goaltender for the Flyers last season. That kind of performance as a 20-year-old bodes extremely well for his production moving forward. He has a firm grip on the starting job for what should be a much more competitive team this season. Given all the offense this team has to offer, Hart’s upside is through the roof. You can go after him confidently on draft day.
Projected Scoring Leaders
|J. van Riemsdyk (31)||C. Giroux (59)||C. Giroux (84)||J. van Riemsdyk (10)||C. Giroux (32)|
|S. Couturier (30)||J. Voracek (51)||S. Couturier (74)||S. Couturier (7)||J. Voracek (26)|
|T. Konecny (27)||S. Couturier (44)||J. Voracek (71)||C. Giroux (6)||S. Gostisbehere (23)|
Flyers in the DFO Top 300
- 34 — Claude Giroux (C/LW/RW)
- 54 — Sean Couturier (C)
- 84 — Carter Hart (G)
- 88 — Jakub Voracek (RW)
- 93 — James van Riemsdyk (LW)
- 134 — Travis Konecny (RW)
- 136 — Shayne Gostisbehere (D)
- 168 — Travis Sanheim (D)
- 178 — Ivan Provorov (D)
- 207 — Kevin Hayes (C)
- 274 — Oskar Lindblom (LW)
- 295 — Brian Elliott (G)
|3||CAROLINA HURRICANES||41-30-11||93 PTS|
|4||PHILADELPHIA FLYERS||43-33-6||92 PTS|
|5||NEW YORK RANGERS||40-32-10||90 PTS|
|6||NEW JERSEY DEVILS||40-34-8||88 PTS|
|7||NEW YORK ISLANDERS||39-33-10||88 PTS|
|8||COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS||37-35-10||84 PTS|
Goaltending and special teams will be the deciding factors in the Flyers 2019-20 season. With all the offensive talent on this team, you would expect them to be able to score on more than 17.1% of their power-play opportunities. Some improvement there along with Hart’s continued development would be enough to push Philly into the post-season. If their struggle on special teams continue and Hart endures somewhat of a sophomore slump, then the Flyers could be in for another long, wasted season.