Czerwonka: It’s a new era for the Flyers

172
Flyers graphic. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

Just around a year ago, the Flyers seemed directionless. Former general manager Chuck Fletcher was still at the helm, his “aggressive retool” failed, the Flyers were below .500 and nobody wanted to watch them, especially when all the other teams in Philadelphia were way better.

The Eagles and Phillies were just in the Super Bowl and World Series, and the Sixers were having a solid season. In fact, when the Flyers played the Rangers on March 1 in Philly, Rangers fans practically took over the Wells Fargo Center, which is unheard of in Philly sports. 

However, just a few weeks later on March 10, Fletcher was fired due to the lack of success and direction moving forward. Ironically, just a week before that, he made absolutely no significant moves during the trade deadline and stated, “I’m not worried about my job.” In the four seasons, he was the GM, they only made the playoffs once and had a total record of 141-142-42.

Soon after that, it was announced that Daniel Briere would become the interim GM, which would eventually lead to him becoming the GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. 

Briere stated very early on that this would be a rebuild. He immediately set the tone by trading former Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade with the LA Kings. In return, the Flyers got the 22nd overall pick (which they used to draft Oliver Bonk), along with future second-rounders. 

Just last month, the Flyers traded their 2022 fifth overall pick Cutter Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks for Jamie Drysdale, their sixth overall pick in 2020. Drysdale, who is 21, comes in as an NHL player. Although with some injury concerns, he has the making of a top-pairing defenseman. A pretty solid return for a player who didn’t want to play in Philadelphia. 

As for the team themselves, they’ve been pretty fun to watch. Currently, they stand with a 29-20-7 record and are third in the Metropolitan Division, only below the Rangers and Hurricanes, and currently hold a spot in the playoffs. 

A big part of this season’s success is from Owen Tippett, who has been amazing to watch. He currently has 21 goals and 14 assists for 35 total points through 52 games, although that is bound to change because of how well he’s been playing. Whether it’s his spin-o-rama and backhand goal, or any other amazing goal he’s scored, he’ll certainly be a part of the core going into the future, especially after he signed his eight-year, $49.6 million contract back in late January. 

You can’t forget the other players who were just assigned the alternate captains and captains as well. On Feb. 14, the Flyers named Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton (who has already been an alternate) to be alternate captains. After battling the adversity of missing all of last season, as well as missing a majority of the 2021-22 season, Sean Couturier was named the 20th captain in Flyers history. 

Overall, the group plays with effort almost every night no matter what. For example, when facing the Toronto Maple Leafs a day after TK [Konecny], Laughton, and Couturier were all announced as alternates and captains, the Flyers trailed the Leafs 3-1 going into the third. With five minutes left in the third, the Flyers quickly tied it up against one of the best teams in the league. Although losing in OT, the group continued to show their resilience and effort.

However, there does seem to be a little concern. Most of the time, to win it all, you do need some form of a superstar or two. The Flyers, most likely have one in last year’s seventh overall pick Matvei Michkov, who is currently playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and will continue to probably at least for another few years or so.

He is their top prospect, as he’s tearing up the KHL right now at 19 years old. The KHL is one of the top professional hockey leagues in the world, so to see what Michkov is doing at such a young age is very encouraging. But other than Michkov, the Flyers don’t really have any other prospect like that in their farm system.

In the game against the Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews scored a hat trick and William Nylander scored the game-winner, just showing how important it is to have those kinds of players on your squad. 

But all in all, this most definitely has been a step in the right direction, as the team is finally exciting to watch and has a plan, much different than years prior when they felt directionless and battled mediocrity.

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @TheWhitSports or email @the.whit.sport@gmail.com

Comment