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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have an improved group of young talent, but their lack of talent in net continues to hold them back

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Fourteenth  up are the Philadelphia Flyers. Much like the Winnipeg Jets they have put all their eggs in offense putting more cap space into offense than any other team (68%). The first two years under Dave Hakstol have shown a work in progress, but is it building quick enough to compete in the playoffs this year?

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 19th
Eastern Conference Standings: 11th
Metropolitan Division Standings: 6th
Goals for Rank: 20th
Goals against Rank: 19th

Overview: The Philadelphia Flyers had 31.5 shots for per game, good enough for 5th in the NHL, they also had a scoring percentage of 8.2%, good enough for 6th worst in the NHL. This was cemented as Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux (the top two scorers on the team) both had sub 8% shooting percentages. That is a career low for Claude and the 3rd worst year for Jakub. Gone is Brayden Schenn, the third highest scorer on the team and in comes Jori Lehtera who had 22 points (less than half) of what Brayden Schenn had last year. Unlike many teams, while hteir top line struggles, it's the depth that has saved them thus far. Up and coming talents of Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and a potential bounce back from Sophomore slumping Shayne Gostisbehere should keep the team producing in the top 2/3 of the league offensively. Nolan Patrick should also provide a nice bump especially if he is given top 6 minutes. Defense was good last year but the defensive corp has proven inconsistent with the talents of Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning and Andrew Macdonald fluctuating drastically due to effort, mental lapses and overall talent level. In net Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth were outside the top 20 in both GAA and Sv%, they "upgraded" to Brian Elliott who was better by about .02 save % and .1 GAA which  was equivalent of a 5 spot improvement in rankings but still outside the top 20 in both. This will not do much to bolster this teams clear issue with goals against.

Major Additions
: Jori Lehtera, Nolan Patrick
Major Subtractions: Brayden Schenn, Steve Mason

Prospects and Picks:
-Nolan Patrick. The number 2 overall pick was to some the consensus top pick in the draft before Nico Hischier was taken by the Devils. Nolan could be used heavily to improve their Penalty Kill, he is more of a complete player than Nico, but I would also anticipate Nico outscores Nolan more often than not in their careers. Nolan has a bit of a learning curve but should hit the ground running in year one.

-Travis Sanheim. The 17th overall pick in 2014 was in the cusp of a group of talented defensive draftees (Samuel Morin #11 in 2013 NHL Draft, Ivan Provorov #7 2015 NHL Draft) and it looks like he will get his chance this year to make his mark. Defensemen usually take some time to be ready but his 2016-2017 AHL season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms showed 37 points across 76 games, it looks like he's ready to play NHL minutes.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Nolan Patrick. It's tough not to get too optimistic about Nolans potential to fill in Brayden's role as a top 6 forward, potentially with Wayne Simmonds. He could see some looks on the top PP line and will likely see some time alongside Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny at varying points. Keeping it realistic that he does not possess Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid talent, he will likely end up in the 45-55 point area.

-Travis Konecny. Pending he can stay healthy and concussion free, he has the speed and elusiveness to be a 20 goal 50+point player. Being alongside Jakub and Claude on the top line would certainly boost his chances as the team has struggled to find that 3rd piece for the top line since Scott Hartnell's departure. In his first year, he scored 28 points with just 14 minutes ATOI per game shooting 8.3% on 133 shots. Up those minutes to 18, the shots to 200, and the percentage just above  1% and you have your 20 goal scorer.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $3.3MM with 22 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 18th
Eastern Conference Standings: 10th
Metropolitan Division: 6th

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)