5 Philadelphia Flyers Questions to Answer in 2022

The Philadelphia Flyers are entering the year 2022 at a crossroads. Dave Scott, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor that manages the franchise, has questions to answer about the short- and long-term future of the team. General manager Chuck Fletcher aggressively acquired prominent veterans Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Cam Atkinson as part of an off-season overhaul to help the team compete for a near-term Stanley Cup. Just a few months later, a full remodel is not off the table.

A miserable losing streak cost head coach Alain Vigneault his job on December 6, and the Flyers would need a highly unlikely turnaround to become a playoff threat in the Eastern Conference this season. The poor start to 2021-22 has led to a time of uncertainty for an organization that has been mired in mediocrity for the past decade. The organization will have to determine its overall direction over the coming year, and five key decisions will signal their choice between rebuilding or continuing to pursue a Stanley Cup in the near term.

Decision on the future of Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux is currently in the final season of his $66 million eight-year deal signed in July 2013. Outstanding individual performances despite the lack of striking defenders, forward depth and lasting good goalkeeping around him. Only Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have more points than Giroux over the past 10 seasons. He leads the team by 25 points in 2021-22 and the Flyers have again failed to build a suitable supporting cast around him.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (a href=httpswww.facebook.com38PhotographyAmy Irvina The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers must determine if they are still trying to compete in the near term and tackle the future of Giroux accordingly. He will turn 34 on January 12 and they may not keep the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer on the list for the final years of his career if it robs him of the chance to win his first Stanley Cup.

If they plan to keep most of their current roster intact, Giroux will likely stay with the organization where he has worked for over 15 years. If they plan on rebuilding in the near future, they should explore the possibility of trading him to a playoff team on the trade deadline. A package with Giroux could yield significant returns on prospects or draft picks. He will make the final decision about his own future thanks to a move ban in his contract, but the direction of the franchise will undoubtedly play a role in that decision.

Full-time Head Coach

Fletcher appointed Mike Yeo as interim head coach when Vigneault was fired. Hiring a full-time head coach from outside the organization immediately would not have been an ideal circumstance with so many unanswered questions currently surrounding the Philadelphia situation. He also knew that any changes to their roster would not come right away.

Related: Flyers Have 5 Good Options To Replace Vigneault

The Flyers will continue to review their roster and develop a strategy to move ahead of the March 21 trading deadline. Once they have a better idea of ​​their full-time direction, they can properly choose the next bank boss with an understanding of who would be a good fit for the role they are seeking for him to serve. They will have a list of qualified NHL head coach candidates to consider, most notably John Tortorella and Rick Tocchet.

Evaluate pieces on the blue line

Ellis was the crown jewel of the off-season overhaul. He looked like an ideal partner to team up with Ivan Provorov in the top defensive unit. However, he missed 25 of 29 games this season. The former Nashville Predators star is under contract until 2027 with an annual cap hit of $6.25 million, turning 31 on January 3. The Flyers must decide if they can rely on the veteran as a top defender moving forward.

Ivan Provorov Philadelphia Flyers
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Provorov has had a difficult time in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. The Flyers hoped he could be a fundamental part of the organization and a top defender for a Stanley Cup contender when they drafted him seventh overall in 2015. However , they should consider him no more than a partner dependent defender of a top pair moving forward .

If the organization decides Ellis and Provorov are not the future of the Blue Line in Philadelphia, they will have to review prospects Cam York and Egor Zamula as potential long-term replacements. York, a first-round pick in 2019, and Zamula, a 21-year-old big-sized project player, both have the potential for bright NHL futures. However, they have failed to make legitimate cases to join the big club this season, despite the struggle of the third defensive combination.

Trading Deadline Strategy

The Flyers will have to catch lightning in the next two months if they want to convince management to move future design capital or prospects to help push a playoff this season. Fletcher is likely to sell pieces in March, and the magnitude of its salesperson approach will indicate the organization’s plans for 2022-23. In addition to Giroux, Ristolainen would spark interest from hopeful teams in the playoffs because of the way his physical style aligns with the demands of tight playoff hockey. The 27-year-old is an imminent unrestricted free agent (UFA). The Flyers gave up a substantial package to take him over in July, and if he steps down from him in less than one season it would be a bit of recognition of the failure of their plan laid out during the 2021 outdoor season.

Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes are likely to remain in Philadelphia due to their contract situations, and it’s hard to imagine the organization moving on with their esteemed franchise goalkeeper Carter Hart. James van Riemsdyk is having a down season at age 32 and he has a $7 million cap hit next season. Fletcher should move him if a reasonable deal comes up, which is unlikely. Veteran UFA UFAs Justin Braun, Keith Yandle and Derick Brassard may be on their way, but they will be minimal returns.

Flyers Organization Identity

At one time, the Flyers considered themselves one of the best organizations in the NHL. Founder and former chairman Ed Snider grew the franchise based on loyalty and “the common bond” of being a member of the Flyers. However, it has been more than 46 years since the Broad Street Bullies united and won consecutive Stanley Cups. Snider passed away in 2016 and the organization has not set a new era for itself since then. The Flyers have disappeared from the radar of mainstream Philadelphia sports fans after missing the playoffs in five of the past nine seasons. They convinced their fans that their young talent would see a resurgence when Fletcher and Vigneault started. They have fallen again and now they must determine how to begin the course of a new era in 2022.

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