In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Ninth up are the Philadelphia Flyers who are in their 52nd season as an NHL team. They have made the playoffs every other year for the last eight seasons.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 22nd
- Goals for Rank: 17th
- Goals against Rank: 29th
- PP Rank: 22nd
- PK Rank: 26th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 22nd
- Eastern Conference Standings: 12th
- Metropolitan Division Standings: 7th
- Coach: Alain Vigneault (1st season with the Flyers; career 648-435-35-98 regular season; 69-71 playoffs)
On offense, there is a bright spot for this team. Claude Giroux scored 85 points, good enough for 19th in the league. I would argue that more is expected out of Jakub Voracek and James Van Riemsdyk than what we saw last year. Going deeper, they have young talent in Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny (still pending contract status as RFA), and Nolan Patrick (who seems to be a persistent part of trade rumors) but as of last year it seemed like a bunch of parts who were not a cohesive unit with parts working at different times in the season. This part of the team had to carry them at times and might need to do more of the same this year.
Defensively, this team allowed the 22nd fewest shots against their own goal this year, not a good sign. They bought out Andrew MacDonald, traded away enforcer Radko Gudas and brought in vet Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen (in Gudas trade). They have top players Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere as a strong two but beyond that some questions occur. There is talent in young players Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Philippe Myers who are all still evolving in their games. The team sitting in the bottom five in the league in penalty kill is something that will require a good amount of work. I feel good long term about the defense but think there is still some gaps and learning curves occurring here.
In net, Carter Hart might be the long sought solution in net. He had 2.83 GAA and a .917 Sv%, good enough for 28th and 13th respectively. He still has some evolving in his game and the 1 year $2MM contract to Brian Elliott will provide some veteran help as he works through his sophomore year.
Behind the bench, Alain Vigneault returns to a head coaching gig after taking a season off. He is reunited with Kevin Hayes and certainly has a respectable record both regular season and in the playoffs. He will need to sure up the defensive front of the team this year and it’s conceivable that the first third to half of the season involves the team adjusting to a new coach and his system.
- Matt Niskanen
- Kevin Hayes
- Justin Braun
- Radko Gudas
- Andrew MacDonald
Prospects and Picks
Joel Farabee — The 14th overall selection in the 2018 draft, Joel didn’t lose a beat going from the US U-18 team to Boston University last year where he scored 17 goals and 36 points in 37 games. He won the Tim Taylor award given out to the NCAA Rookie of the year. He is battling for a roster spot this year but even if he spends a year with the Phantoms that might be good for the transitional and ultimate growth of his game.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Oskar Lindblom — Highly touted prospect Oskar had a mediocre first year with 33 points across his first full season. He clearly struggled out of the gate scoring just three points in his first 12 games, after that he flourished in November with eight points in the next 12 games before going quiet again in December and January – six total points across 26 games. He finished the season strong with 16 points over his final 31 games. I could see more steaky behavior this season as he continues to find his stride but I’m also anticipating north of 40 points from him this season.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$68MM Spent; $13M in Cap room; 20 players signed.