Has Lack of Depth Scoring Hurt the Flyers this Season?
Remember the last time the Philadelphia Flyers truly made an impact in the NHL playoffs? Well, it was back in 2010 when a core group of players mainly consisting of Pronger, Briere, Richards and Jeff Carter took them all the way to game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals where they would eventually lose to a powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks team. Ever since then, it has been nothing but mediocre for the Flyers organization with early round playoff exits, or being a middle of the pack team not good enough to qualify for playoffs, but too good to be at the bottom of the conference.
Can the 2017-2018 Flyers change their current image? Well they do have the star power on their roster to do so when you have your offence being led by Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, however it has been a problem of depth scoring that has really affected the Flyers this season. Voracek’s 42 points and Giroux’s 39 points are very respectable numbers to have, especially when it has been 34 games into their season. Sean Couturier who has had a very surprising offensive surge comes in at number 3 with 31 points, and talented defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere at number 4 has 26 points in 31 games. Those 4 players are the main reason why the Flyers are still in the playoff hunt over a quarter way into the season. This is where their depth scoring has been a problem as Wayne Simmonds is the only one making an impact with 11 goals and 21 points. Scratching out the 5 players I have mentioned, the rest of the forwards on the Flyers have a total point combination of 57 which is a very low output when compared to the top teams in the East that not only have franchise players but great depth scoring to go along with it. Valtteri Filppula brings the experience and a good faceoff percentage to the team but his offensive output has staggered each season since his 1st year in Tampa Bay. With his age and recent play, he should be on the 3rd line as a checker role, which he is more suited to instead of centering the 2nd. Another slumping player for the Flyers is 20-year-old Travis Konecny who only has 4 goals and 6 assists into the season. I truly expected a bigger role this season for the sophomore but he has only averaged just over 13 minutes of ice time and has received even less playing time in his last 5 games. For someone who was known to light up the lamp during his time in the OHL, I wish he was given a bigger role on the Flyers to show the offensive talent the young kid has and can show as the spark plug for the lineup.
The other disappointing player in the Flyers lineup has got to be Jori Lehtera who has dealt with an injury riddled season. In what was one of the bigger trades of the NHL off-season, the St Louis Blues dealt Lehtera, the 27th pick in the 2017 NHL, and a conditional 2018 1st for Brayden Schenn. So far, the Blues have won that trade with Schenn leading St Louis in points with 39 while Lehtera only scooping up a very low 2 points with his time for the Flyers. Obviously, we will not truly know who wins this trade until we see what Morgan Frost does in the NHL but his play in the OHL dictates that he can become a good player. Going back to the Flyers, they desperately need a Brayden Schenn this season. Just imagine where in the standings they would be right now if they had his production while Lehtera continues to centre the 4th line while averaging one of the lowest ice times on the team.
With the weak depth and number of young guns that is on the Philadelphia Flyers, I would not be surprised to see them look to acquire a top six forward at the trade deadline that can also bring experience to the lineup if they really would like to try to make an impact at the playoff level.