|R.J Umberger – LW||Scott Hartnell – LW|
|Michael Del Zotto – D||Steve Downie – RW|
|Nick Schultz – D||Hal Gill – D|
|Ryan White – C|
|Blair Jones – C|
A season after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Philadelphia Flyers were back in the postseason last year. They were knocked out in the first round, in seven games against the New York Rangers, who would go on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Craig Berube took over for Peter Laviolette three games into the season and coached the Flyers to a 42-27-10 record. Heading into the 2014-15 season the Flyers are mostly the same team except they will not have Scott Hartnell after trading him to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason. Hartnell spent seven seasons with the Flyers, but was traded for R.J Umberger and a fourth round pick this summer. Hartnell had become a mainstay on the top-line with Claude Giroux, but it looks like that will be Wayne Simmonds or Matt Read’s spot this season.
Giroux is an elite playmaking centre who got off to a slow start last season, but after being snubbed from Team Canada, he went on to lead the league in points with 29 (9G / 20A) in 24 games after the Olympics. He is surrounded by quality, fantasy worthy talent. The aforementioned Simmonds scored a career-high 29 goals last season. He also added 31 assists and 106 penalty minutes, which makes him a valuable all-around fantasy asset. If he lands on the top-line with Giroux, 35 goals becomes attainable. Another impressive stat about the 26-year-old winger, is that he has only missed nine games through his first six NHL seasons. Jakub Voracek is one of the Flyers’ most dynamic offensive threats. He has speed for days, a strong shot and he is a feisty competitor. He has flourished the last two seasons while playing with Giroux, so he makes for a solid mid-round selection with 25-goal, 40 assist potential. Don’t forget about Vincent Lecavalier. He is getting up there in age and his minutes have dropped considerably, but he is still going to score you 20 goals.
The rest of the Philly lineup is loaded with young talent. Read is 28, but only has 196 games of NHL experience. His fantasy value is tied to where he lands in the lineup. If he gets top-6 minutes, he is a 25-plus goal candidate, but you should expect 20. Brayden Schenn, 23, scored 20 goals and 21 assists in 82 games in his second full NHL season. With 192 games under his belt, expect 20-20 seasons to become a trend with loads of upside. Sean Couturier, 21, just finished his first full year as well. He is already one of the best two-way, shut-down centres in the NHL. He is used more in a shut-down role so his scoring is limited by that, but he will still chip-in—Couturier had 13 goals and 26 assists in 82 games last year.
On the blueline, the Flyers may have lost one of their best defensemen longterm. It was already shaping up as Kimmo Timonen’s last NHL season, but this offseason he had to be treated for multiple blood clots in both lungs and right leg. He is out indefinitely with no timetable for a return. That leaves you with Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald as the Flyers’ only two real fantasy assets on D. Streit will be 37 in December, but age does not appear to be slowing him down. He has not missed a game in four seasons while averaging nine goals and 37 assists (46 points) per 82 games over that span. MacDonald had a career year in 2013-14, but did not produce that much after being acquired by the Flyers. He had 24 points in 63 games on Long Island, but just four assists in 19 games with Philly. When Timonen is healthy, MacDonald’s value will take a hit, but when he is out, someone will have to fill-in on the power-play and it should be MacDonald who tackles that task. The Timonen situation prompted the Flyers to sign Michael Del Zotto, who should also help pick up the slack on the power-play. He has regressed over the last few years and may be a defensive liability at times, but offensively he will help.
Between the pipes the tandem of Steve Mason and Ray Emery is back this season. Last year Mason sort of resurrected his career. He finished seventh in the NHL with 33 wins, while posting a 2.50 GAA (25th) and .917 SV% (21st). He is the clear number-1 over Emery and should make for a solid fantasy back-up. He will be drafted between the 9th and 11th rounds, making him a top-20 option. As for Emery, he only has spot-start value, but the Flyers should be a quality side, so he could hold some value in that respect.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Flyers’ Fantasy Players)
- Claude Giroux – C
- Wayne Simmonds – RW
- Jakub Voracek – RW
- Steve Mason – G
- Mark Streit – D
- Matt Read – RW
- Brayden Schenn – C
- R.J Umberger – LW
- Sean Couturier – C
- Vincent Lecavalier – C
Click HERE for the Flyers’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Flyers will finish fourth in the Metropolitan Division, qualifying for the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.
Other Season Previews: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames,Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars,Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators