The Flyers’ season came to an abrupt end in the form of a first round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last month. Despite the poor play for the better part of six games against the Pens, the Flyers’ season was still a success. They outplayed their expectations – if you remember, this was a team projected to barely contend for a playoff berth, not a team that would finish third in the ultra-tough Metropolitan Division. On the back of a break-out season from Sean Couturier, a career year for Claude Giroux, and solid performances from Ivan Provorov and Jake Voracek, the Orange and Black made some serious strides this season. You can’t deny that.
As it stands in May of 2018, the Flyers’ lineup next fall should look like this:
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom – Nolan Patrick – Jake Voracek
Wayne Simmonds – Scott Laughton – Michael Raffl
Jordan Weal – ??? – ???
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
The unknown players on the fourth line could be any of the following: Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Mike Vecchione, or Valtteri Filppula, who general manager Ron Hextall expressed interest in in keeping him around. This should go without saying, but Sam Morin is currently the seventh defenseman.
The purpose of this article is to make the Flyers a better team in the form of trades. If I were in Hextall’s shoes, I would try to add more scoring depth for the Orange and Black.
Secondary scoring was the team’s Achilles heel all season long. Here’s the top five scorers this past season: Claude Giroux (102), Jake Voracek (85), Sean Couturier (76), Shayne Gostisbehere (65), Travis Konecny (47). The four forwards all shared a place on the top line at some point this season. The lone defenseman was a member of the top defense pairing. That’s not good enough to have extended success.
Assuming TK continues to play well on the top line and they are successful next season and Voracek continues to be a strong veteran presence with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, the Flyers need to add someone to put up points on the third line. The one name that I have in mind is Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes.
Skinner is only 25 years old but boasts eight years of NHL experience. In those eight years, he’s amassed 379 points (204 goals), including three 30-goal seasons. He has a $5,725,000 cap hit next season, has a no-trade clause, and will be a free agent at the end of the season. The clause can be waived, though.
I’m not sure what it would take for the Flyers to strike a deal with the Hurricanes, but it would be worthwhile for Hextall to give them a call and see what it would take to get the job done. The Hurricanes aren’t going anywhere any time soon, judging by the fact that they finished last season with 83 points and missed the postseason by 14 points. At this point, the Hurricanes need quantity and the Flyers have the firepower to help them get there. I would be open minded in trading any prospect except Carter Hart and Morgan Frost. Think about it, we can only hope that Aube-Kubel, Danick Martel, German Rubstov or any player on the Phantoms right now can put up the numbers that Skinner puts up. It’s not like Skinner’s over the hill either, he’s only 25. A call to the Hurricanes has to be made this offseason.
Having a lethal second and third line was something that was missing from the Flyers attack in the postseason against the Penguins. If the Flyers had some more scoring depth, they could still be playing hockey right now. I’m not saying that Jeff Skinner would come in and put the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Final, but having a guy who can score 30 goals would definitely help. Look for the Flyers to be aggressive this offseason. With the right moves this team could make some noise next season. It starts with getting more scoring options, whether they come organically or through trades.