It’s Time for the Philadelphia Flyers to Rebuild | Bleacher Report

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

The Philadelphia Flyers are not in a good place.

When it comes to organizational confusion, the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens have been front and center. That’s partly due to their existence in large Canadian markets, as well as the melodrama regarding team management groups. That the Flyers’ struggles have been able to go unnoticed is perhaps the only silver lining for the organization in what has been a total failure of a season thus far. The Flyers rank 24th in the league by point percentage (.462).

Head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant Michel Therrien were legitimately fired earlier in the week, and the team produced a dismal 43.4 expected goal percentage under their supervision this season, according to Evolving-Hockey. Only the Sabers and Coyotes ranked lower.

Many of the team’s best players, including Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny ​​and Ivan Provorov, were woefully underperforming, while the overall defense seemed lost in coverage. It comes on the heels of a 2020-21 season in which the Flyers struggled similarly, missing the playoffs.

Vigneault didn’t have the team ready and the Flyers roster is definitely better than the results show. But while the Flyers may not be the basement dweller they currently present, they are not a hidden contender either.

This is a list built to be in the middle of the pack, and that has become a trend in Philadelphia. A run to the second round during the 2020 playoffs under unique COVID-19 circumstances serves as the only plausible denial for an era in which the team has struggled to rise above mediocrity. In fact, it is projected to be their ninth season of 10 in which they will have missed the playoffs or exited in the first round.

Sensing an outdated product, CEO Chuck Fletcher made a number of big moves over the summer. Jakub Voracek was sent to Columbus by Cam Atkinson, while youth and prospects were sacrificed to bring in Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen on defense. In previous seasons, the team targeted Kevin Hayes and Van Riemsdyk in free agency. The Flyers have been openly trying to compete for years and are not getting the results. They have tried different coaches and different reinforcements to the squad.

By now, it’s clear: this group just isn’t good enough.

If trying to build a team up to win now doesn’t work, there is only one direction to go. The Flyers don’t need to run a scorched earth policy, strip the entire roster, and build a new team from scratch. However, what is clear is that they must stop chasing their losses. If the organization is willing to walk on water, at best, for the next few seasons, then it must do so with a greater future purpose in mind.

Most of the pending unrestricted free agents must move before the 2022 trade deadline to give the team an arsenal to build a more optimistic future.

The Flyers have a fairly average group, as there are some emerging talents to round out the roster, but there are no obvious future stars waiting in the minors. They traded their 2021 first-round pick for Ristolainen and don’t have their second-round picks for the next two summers. Ristolainen needs to be moved, as do Derick Brassard, Justin Braun, Martin Jones and Keith Yandle. The mountains should move to try to trade Van Riemsdyk, who is approaching 33 years old and is capped at $ 7 million through 2023. If that requires retaining half his contract, so be it.

Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus RistolainenBill Kostroun / Associated Press

Couturier is a great two-way center who just turned 29 and has a long-term contract. Does not go anywhere. Their hand is likely to be forced on Kevin Hayes (29) and Ryan Ellis (30) on long contracts that reflect a level of skill they won’t match during their career streaks, but both still have a lot to contribute and shouldn’t hurt. . the team in the coming seasons.

The team has some young players who will be part of the base in the future.

Forward Joel Farabee (21) and goalkeeper Carter Hart (23) are key figures. Konecny ​​might be a commercial bait, but he’s 24 and signed until 2025. Travis Sanheim (25) becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023, but he’s a top-four quality defender and one of the few Flyers in the world. your game currently. If the price is right, it should be a high priority to retain it.

A discussion must be had on Provorov, as the 2015 seventh overall pick has had a checkered career. He scored 17 and 13 goals in 2017-18 and 2019-20, respectively. His skating ability is visually stimulating, but often the Russian seems more dazzling than substantial. His defensive acumen isn’t up to the mark of physical tools and he’s struggling this season.

It seems unlikely that Provorov will achieve the number-one defender status previously expected of him, and the top cap of $ 6.75 million reached through 2025 is starting to seem more of a burden than a luxury. It could still be a big part of the future, but if it doesn’t improve, you will regret not having moved it while its value was still high.

However, the most important decision of all will be about the future of Claude Giroux. As the captain, the best player on the roster and the face of the franchise, it’s hard to imagine him with any other team other than the one he has had for his entire 15-year career.

But Giroux turns 34 in January and is in the last year of his contract. He is still a very good player, but he is nearing the end of his career. Trading it would open up a lot of headroom and win the Flyers a trade package.

Giroux, who currently dodges questions about his future in Philadelphia, might even welcome a contender. He could stay with the team and contribute for a few years, and maybe that’s even the smart bet at this stage, but parting ways is a possibility and would usher in a new era.

The organization must be prepared to build towards something. Parts of the current roster must be turned in in search of cap space and future draft picks. Room must be made for top prospects Morgan Frost, Cam York and Bobby Brink to play meaningful minutes in the coming seasons, and the team must be prepared to endure their growing pains.

The New York Rangers made a radical decision in 2018 as an equally average team to move their veterans and proactively begin a new era. A few years later, the team appears to be back in the Stanley Cup race. Meanwhile, teams like Vancouver and Chicago lived in denial and are now in the corner of recreation with their tails between their legs.

The Flyers need to rebuild. The degree to which it will be necessary will depend on how soon you are willing to face that reality.

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