Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview

Will a Massive Roster Shakeup Deliver the Flyers to the Promised Land?

Alex McCrystal

The Philadelphia Flyers got its first win of the preseason Saturday night with a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. The Flyers look to rebound this season after a crushing loss to the New York Islanders in game seven of the second round during the 2020 playoff season. Last year, fans had high expectations but were ultimately disappointed. Now, the Flyers have completely overhauled its roster, and with that new look, the organization looks to win its first Stanley Cup since 1975. The roster shakeup was not a small one — it included savvy depth signings, blockbuster trades, fan favorites leaving and big names coming in.

One of the most crucial parts of this season is the progression of goaltender Carter Hart. Hart had a breakout rookie season, outplaying future Hall of Famer Carey Price in a playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, last year’s Stanley Cup runner-ups. Hart had a bit of a sophomore slump last year, but the defense was not helping him in any way. The talent is there for Hart; the question is whether he will return to his rookie form. However, Hart cannot start daily, and the Flyers lost veteran backup Brian Elliot this past offseason. The Flyers signed former San Jose Shark netminder Martin Jones to a one-year deal to backup Hart. Jones is a huge question mark, but if he can channel his elite form from years past, then he will be a welcome addition to the team. However, many fans consider Hart the main focus, with the team even extending him to a three-year deal worth $11.937 million. Hart has the talent and has proven his worth. It will be seen if he executes to the level the Flyers need him.

The Flyers have completely overhauled the roster. The organization’s main focus this offseason was adding depth to the blue line. The Flyers lost fan-favorite Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes in a salary dump trade with the Flyers, gaining no draft picks or players in return. The Flyers also traded Philippe Myers and former #2 overall draft pick Nolan Patrick to the Nashville Predators for an elite defenseman in Ryan Ellis. Patrick was then traded to Los Vegas as part of another trade. Chuck Fletcher brought in defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from Buffalo for Robert Hagg, a 1st and 2nd round pick, to try and help solidify the defense. It was a steep price for a mostly unproven player, but he provides grit and toughness to a depleted blue line. 

The defense that was notorious for breaking down and collapsing now has the toughness and grit that was needed last season. The biggest move may have been trading away a franchise staple in Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson. Many fans are excited about Atkinson and what he will bring to the team. Jake and Cam are very similar, but Cam is arguably on a better contract and has potentially more upside than Voracek.

Many fans would argue that the biggest extension was that of Sean Couturier, who signed an eight-year $62 million dollar contract this past offseason. There was also the extension of Joel Farabee. Farabee had a breakout season in 2020, solidifying him as a big part of this team’s future. 

These extensions, along with those of Travis Sanheim, Connor Bunnaman and Carter Hart, solidify the core of the Flyers going forward. The depth signings of Nate Thompson, Keith Yandle and Derrick Brassard, should provide insurance for some of the younger players and a much needed veteran presence in the locker room. Their names might be called sooner rather than later as big pieces such as Kevin Hayes and Wade Allison are projected to miss major time to begin the season due to injury. 

All in all, there is a lot of excitement around the Flyers. A major factor will be the play of the youngsters such as Carter Hart, Joel Farabee, and Rasmus Ristolainen. This team has the potential to go far. The question is whether or not it can finally put it all together.