Is it safe to say the Flyers had the best offseason in the NHL coming into this season? Adding Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, & Justin Braun. Resigning Scott Laughton, Travis Sanheim, and Brian Elliot to all great contracts, 2 of the 3 being bridge deals, and all of them working out in their favor. Signing Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny before the season as well, both being two of the Flyers most important players. I liked the Hayes trade and sign from the start. Was it an overpay? Yes. Did they have to do it? Yes. If they didn’t do it, another team would have, and look how much it’s benefiting the Flyers. Plus, they already knew about the Nolan Patrick injury before they signed Hayes, so it was a move they really had to make at that point. Matt Niskanen has been the 2nd best defenseman in my opinion, first being his partner Ivan Provorov. Niskanen has just been unreal on the backend, making great plays, moving the puck quickly and often, and is great in the corners as well. Him along with Hayes have made the locker room much better as well, as the Flyers are having fun and enjoying themselves. And let’s not forget the most important thing, they’re winning. Justin Braun has also been playing really well, and has helped out this young Flyers D-core, being paired with guys like Sanheim, Mark Friedman, Robert Hägg, and others. These 3 moves have extremely helped out the Flyers penalty kill as well, being one of the biggest keys to the Flyers success this season. Hayes has 4 shorthanded goals, and the penalty kill is 7th in the league, playing a style that is so aggressive and quick, making teams turn it over left and right.
And all of this started with the hirings of Alain Vigneault, Mike Yeo, and Michel Therrien. These 3 coaches made this team do a complete 180, going from a team that was mediocre for years, to now, a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup. Vigneault has just been unreal, keeping the room content and happy all year, getting guys to play to their full potential, and has done everything right with lines, pairings, goaltending starts, etc. He also has carried on the “Cahtah Haht” joke from Kevin Hayes, which is amazing if I do say so myself.
Sanheim & Laughton have been great. Laughton has had a great season following his career year in goals last year with 12, adding 20 assists to that goal total for 32 points, he’s tied his career high with 12 already, and will most likely get 15-20 on the year. He’s been spectacular with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny, having great chemistry with the two and continues to be great defensively as well. Sanheim has been just as good lately, with Phil Myers on the 2nd pair. The two struggled early on when they were put together, but have really settled in and been two rocks for this Flyers deep D-core.
Then the Flyers added Derek Grant and Nate Thompson at the trade deadline. Dubbed a team that did “nothing” at the deadline compared to other teams in the Metro, like Pittsburgh and the Islanders who added big pieces to their rosters. Sometimes, that can mess with a team’s chemistry and can hurt them, as the Penguins are currently on a 6 game losing streak, and are 3-6-1 in their last 10. The Islanders are also on a 3 game losing streak, and are 3-5-2 in their last 10.
That just goes to show that you don’t always need a big splash at the deadline, and adding depth pieces in Grant and Thompson will help the Flyers throughout the rest of the year. Because honestly, you can’t have too much depth, and it’s going to help out the Flyers more and more as the games go by.
So with all of this knowledge I just threw at you, was this off-season a success? Yes. 100%. The Flyers have a bright future, and now with these coaches and players, and a good GM in Chuck Fletcher who has made countless great moves. I can’t wait for the playoffs people! Buckle up, as the Flyers are 1 point out of 1st place. The Capitals play layer tonight, and if they lose, Wednesday’s game will be a battle for 1st. Let’s go!