Last season was rather disappointing for the men in orange and black. A team that looked like it was capable of a playoff run saw a ten game winning streak in December propel the team into the top tier standings of the Metropolitan Division. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Flyers fell a part and never found their groove. This draft and offseason, as I believed, was really crucial if the Flyers were ever going to make that leap forward in the division and Eastern Conference as a whole. For starters, I did not expect the team to land the second overall pick in the lottery and that might have just been the luck the Flyers needed to finally establish a nucleus of players who could push the current veterans and really take off.
As you probably know by now the Flyers selected Centerman Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick. Patrick has ALL the tools you want in a rookie who was selected as high as he was. In my opinion, Patrick could be the next Auston Matthews of the league, but he has had some injuries in his young career. According to BroadStreetHockey, it’s reported Partick’s ceiling is indeed a superstar first-line Center, while his floor is a second-line Center. Not a bad drop off at all. Patrick is the kind of player who could instantly propel the Flyers, especially for a team that really struggled to score consistently a year ago. Will Patrick be on the NHL roster come October? It’s tough to say. His pedigree and background alludes to it, but again, he has to stay healthy and he has to prove himself before he does so. Guys like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid and generational talents who absolutely wowed their respective clubs to get that NHL push in their first year. Patrick can do it, but it’s going to take that “wow” effort to do so.
From there on, the Flyers turned their attention to loading up on young offensive wingers. One guy I’m excited about is left winger Isaac Ratcliffe. This is a kid who could make the roster within a year or two and really contribute. He has good speed, vision and the ability to create his own scoring opportunities. The Flyers sent shockwaves when they dealt winger/center Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. I’m assuming it was because 1. the team never figured out a stable position for him and 2. Nolan Patrick, if he stays healthy and makes the roster, becomes the starting second line center without having to get moved around like a rag doll which I believe hurt Brayden Schenn as a player.
Ron Hextall answered questions about the draft and had this to say: “Are we getting younger? Yes,” the team’s general manager said. “Rebuild? Absolutely not. We have young players and at some point here, we have to open up an opportunity for them to play.” The Flyers needed an injection of youth on both sides of the ice. I’m really hoping defensemen Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim rock out in training camp and make the opening night roster. Both are enforcers on the blue line and have beautiful ice vision to move the puck as well as clearing it. Those two with the like of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere would really start to shape a young blue line that could do a lot of damage. Throw in the possibility of Patrick making the roster and AHL standout centerman Oskar Lindblom and the Flyers could really begin to take form for the next few years. Is this a playoff team in 2017-2018? My guess is yes, but a lot has to go right and there’s still the free agency period looming. This is the team out of all the four Philly teams I’m really going to keep an eye on in the summer months.
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