The Philadelphia Flyers still have a lot to play for this summer, but this lengthy break has allowed us to look at everything the team has done so far in their first season under Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault’s squad exceeded all preseason expectations, finishing fourth in NHL’s Eastern Conference heading into the upcoming playoffs – and they looked poised to finish even higher had the COVID-19 pandemic not abruptly shut things down. A good mixture of youth and experience has helped the Flyers take major leaps forward in the 2019-20 season, knocking off several top teams in the regular season.
With the Flyers still awaiting a start date to restart a full training camp prior to their round-robin tournament against the fellow top-four teams in the East, I decided to hand out my individual season awards for the team this season.
Most of these awards are replicated from actual league awards, with a top forward also being chosen. Goaltender Carter Hart also deserves major recognition for his strong campaign so far, but handing out a Vezina Trophy was a little silly with Hart playing 12 more games than veteran back-up Brian Elliott.
Here’s my full list of awards:
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP): Sean Couturier
Sean Couturier has continued to become a top two-way center in the National Hockey League, and his production this season earned him my vote for the team’s MVP. A seasoned veteran, Couturier is third on the team in goals (22) and tied for second in assists (37). Most importantly, Couturier has continued to be a shutdown defender for the Flyers, lining up against the opponents’ top lines. He also leads the team in face-off winning percentage (59.63%) just ahead of the captain.
Couturier has been fun to watch this season and is easily a candidate to become team captain down the road, should he decide to stay.
Norris Trophy (Defenseman): Ivan Provorov
Ivan Provorov is quickly becoming a top young defenseman in the NHL, and this season has been another example of that. In 69 games, Provorov leads Flyers defensemen with 13 goals and is second with 23 assists, showing great ability with the puck on his stick. The 23-year-old Russian shows no fear when paired against the top playmakers and is certainly not afraid to throw his body around.
I expect to see a lot more positives from Provorov when the season resumes this summer.
Selke Award (Best Defensive Forward): Sean Couturier
Couturier claims another award as he earned the Selke Award, given to the best defensive forward. This should be no argument with Couturier’s two-way ability well-known around the league. Couturier is easily a candidate for this award when it is announced later this season.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Sportsmanship): Matt Niskanen
Matt Niskanen is the key veteran of the Flyers’ defensive corps and has been a true professional no matter where he’s been in the league. Helping groom several young starters this season, Niskanen continues to provide balance among the defensemen who can point to Provorov as their best offensive threat at the position.
Niskanen leads the Flyers defenders with 25 assists and has only missed one regular season game this season.
King Clancy Trophy (Leadership on/off ice): Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux has bled orange and black for over a decade and also plays a vital role off the ice in the Philadelphia community. The Claude Giroux Foundation has continued to partner with local organizations that address the broad and overwhelming spectrum of difficulties faced by local children on a daily basis.
Giroux has been the face of the Flyers since 2013 and will continue to be until he hangs up his skates or makes a move to a different franchise.
NHL Foundation Award (Leadership within Community): James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk began his professional career with the Flyers, and returned to the City of Brotherly Love in the summer of 2018. One of the most influential forwards on the Flyers’ roster, van Riemsdyk is a true competitor who has continued to give back to the Philadelphia community off the ice.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, van Riemsdyk and his wife Lauren donated to Philadelphia’s fund to help those in need. They also admitted to donating to several other causes around the area in order to help people affected by the virus. The veteran forward is in his 11th NHL season and has easily grown into one of the most-liked individuals in the game today.
Top Forward: Travis Konecny
An award created for this list, Travis Konecny gets my vote as the team’s best forward this season. Konecny earned a first-ever trip to the NHL All-Star Game in 2020 with offensive numbers that are all career-highs for the winger.
TK leads the Flyers with 61 points, including 24 goals, and is tied for second with 37 assists. He also leads the team with 23 power-play points and is third with five goals on the man advantage. A scrappy forward who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves to send a message, Konecny has developed into a top playmaker and will have much more to show this season and beyond.