Last Word on Hockey’s Puck Drop Previews are back for the 2022-23 season! As the regular season approaches, Last Word will preview each team’s current outlook and stories to watch for the upcoming year. We’ll also do our best to project how things will go for each team over the course of the campaign. Today, we’re previewing the 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers.
2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers
What a whirlwind of a season it was for the Flyers. Prized acquisition Ryan Ellis missed the entire season and start centre Sean Couturier played 29 games. Philly Faithful said goodbye to long-time captain and forward Claude Giroux. A new era of Flyers hockey is underway after that transpired. That’s only a sneak peek of what happened.
The Flyers were not a good hockey team. Offensively they struggled to average 2.56 goals per game and had the league’s worst power play. The team did not make out better defensively as they averaged 3.59 goals per game. They finished with 294 (all situations) goals against which was sixth worst in the league. As a result, the Flyers missed the playoffs and finished 8th in the division and 15th in the conference.
After failing to land Johnny Gaudreau due to not being able to shed cap space, the team did add some pieces. The Flyers acquired Tony DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes and signed free agent Nicolas Deslauriers to a contract.
The majority of the work was done in-house. Goaltending Felix Sandstrom and centre Morgan Frost signed two-year extensions. The moves have been small, but given the cap space, there was not much wiggle room to make a big splash.
But the most significant offseason move comes behind the bench. The new bench boss is none other than John Tortorella.
Nicolas Deslauriers-Patrick Brown-Zack Macewen
Statement from Chuck Fletcher re: Couturier: "Couturier has an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated during training camp. He is considered week-to-week."
— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) September 19, 2022
The top six are the bread and butter of this hockey team. But going into the season, they will be without Couturier. And for this team to have success, the top six are going to have to carry the workload. Konecny (52) and Atkinson (50) led the team in scoring. While Couturier was out the majority of the year, Hayes stepped in and finished with 31 points. As shown above, this team had problems scoring, but this top six group is the key to anything happening on the scoreboard. Van Riemsdyk led the team in goals (24), which is wild to think about. Overall this top six is not in bad shape, but not having Couturier is a major blow to the offence.
The bottom six is nothing to brag about, but it fits the mould of bringing a blend of grit and physicality to the lineup. Farabee is a nice middle-six winger with a nice scoring touch. He finished fourth in points and is a guy that can slide up and down the lineup. Tippett is a third-line power forward. Overall the bottom six likes to throw the body. MacEwen had 159 hits, which was the most among forwards. Tippet threw 98 of his own, and newcomer Deslauriers threw 230. Expect some bumps and bruises when those guys are on the ice. They may lack scoring touch in the bottom six, but they are physical and bring style to the lineup.
Ivan Provorov-Tony DeAngelo
Cam York-Justin Braun
Following Couturier news, #Flyers are not expected to report any progress with D Ryan Ellis when camp opens. He will not be ready to start the season and right now, there is no hint of a timeline for him to return.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 20, 2022
The top of the blue line is solid. And if not for Ellis missing time to start the year, the right side looks very good. The addition of DeAngelo gives the Flyers a good offensive threat on the back end. In addition to that, he finished with 20 more points than the Flyers’ point leader among defensemen. The bottom four is not a bad rounded-out group. The fans can argue the back is deeper than the forward group. Sanheim is underrated and has a nice offensive upside while also being good on his own end.
Sanheim and Ristolainen spent over 900 minutes together and were one of the more consistent pairs on the blue line. The duo had a 52% goals percentage and averaged 2.86 goals per 60 minutes. That outweighed their 2.62 goals against per 60 minutes. Look for those two to be a that stable presence on the back end.
York is going to be the one to watch for. He only appeared in 30 games and had 10 points. He will get his chance to prove what he can bring to the lineup. York is one of the top young guns in their talent pool. Braun has a physical defensive Defencemen type of play and should mesh well with York.
The Flyers enter the season with two goalies they had on last year’s roster. Hart is without question the team’s number one goaltender. But with Martin Jones leaving via free agency, Sandstrom gets the backup role. He had a small sample size last season. Sandstrom played only five games and allowed 16 goals. He posted a 0.91 save percentage and 3.23 goals against average.
Hart is going to carry the heavy workload, and Sandstrom will get the opportunity to show he can pick up the slack when Hart gets a rest.
Players To Watch
All eyes are on Carter Hart. After a promising rookie season followed by a good sophomore season, the Flyers have their guy. His best season came during the 2019-20 season where he posted a .914 save percentage and a career-low 2.42 goals against average.
Since then his numbers have dipped down. In the last two seasons, his goals against averages were 3.67 and 3.16. In both seasons, his save percentage has been below .900. If the Flyers are to sustain any success this season, Hart will need to return to that 2019-20 form. The starting goalie will need to be at his best to give the guys in front a chance to win.
In a year that will see Couturier miss the start and potentially all of it, Hayes will need to carry the workload down the middle. Losing Couturier is a massive blow, as he is one of the best two-way centres in the game. But Hayes will need to help carry the offence this year as he is the number one centre.
Hayes has posted 31 points both seasons with the Flyers. Given the price tag on his contract, they will need more out of him in order to have success on offence. Playing alongside Atkinson, Konecny, and/or Van Riemsdyk should allow him to produce more offensively.
Prediction For The 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers
The 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers will surprise us to some degree. I believe in John Tortorella and the type of style he wants to play. He will get the Flyers to play simple hockey and do the little thing right. And even though the Flyers cannot be as bad as last year, they are still going to be bad. The Eastern Conference is loaded and while other teams improved majorly, the Flyers took a back seat car ride. Being without stellar two-way centre Couturier is a big blow and will hurt the team.
Tortorella will get this team back to the basics, but the Flyers will end up finishing last in the division and will be in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.