As hockey fans, no matter what the outlook for the Flyers may be, we are usually excited for hockey to be back. With the Flyers long history of success, we are usually looking forward to a team that will contend for a Stanley Cup. If not that, then at least a team that will be make the playoffs and with a break here or there, will go on an unexpected deep playoff run that generates some excitement in this city for a few months.
But as a result of the gross mismanagement of the Flyers roster by former GM Paul Holmgren, the enthusiasm Flyers fans normally have for an upcoming season has grown more tepid. The ratings for Flyers games have dropped 36 percent. We look at the NHL Roster and see names like Vinny Lecavalier, R. J. Umberger, Andrew MacDonald, Mark Streit and Luke Schenn and we realize that until these names are purged from the roster, the Flyers won’t be a serious Stanley Cup Contender.
The Flyers have made some improvements to their current roster that will make them a more competive team. They signed goalie Michal Neuvirth to replace Ray Emery as the backup goaltender. Neuvirth posted a .921 save percentage with a putrid Buffalo Sabers team last year while Emery’s save percentage was below .900 for the Flyers. Some might not think that an upgrade at the backup goaltending position is that big of an addition, but when you consider the fact that the Flyers went 1-8-1 during a ten game stretch last year when Steve Mason was injured, Neuvirth is a significant signing. The Flyers also added Russian defenseman Evgeny Medvedev who will improve the Flyers mobility on the back line and they acquired Sam Gagner from the Arizona Coyotes who will give the Flyers more scoring depth.
So will the Flyers be better next year as a result of these acquisitions? Yes. Are they a Stanley Cup Contender? No. Are they even a playoff team with these additions? In my opinion, no.
So what do we as hockey fans in Philadelphia have to get really excited about? In my opinion, it will be watching the prospects the Flyers have in their system. After yet another draft where the the Flyers obtained some more top end talent, we can really start to get excited about the Flyers future. I for one can’t wait to watch these guys play.
There should be plenty of opportunities to watch a lot of these guys play too, both in person and on TV. Allentown is just a short ride up the Northeast Extension and the Flyers have a lot of prospects who will be playing college hockey next year. College hockey is getting more and more exposure on TV now too with networks such as NBCSN, The Big 10 Network and the CBS Sports Network all televising college hockey games. Also the NHL Network periodically televises games from the Canadian junior leagues. So below is a brief list of Flyers prospects and where you can watch them play.
Allentown Phantoms: Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Haag
University of Michigan: Cooper Marody
University of North Dakota: Matej Tomek
Bowling Green University: Mark Friedman
Cornell University: Renee Wilcox
Calgary Hitmen: Travis Sanheim
Brandon Wheat Kings: Ivan Provorov
Ottawa 67s: Travis Konecny
Val D’ Foreurs: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really stoked about watching all of these guys play. This is where the Flyers future lies and if the Flyers are going to hoist a Stanley Cup any time soon, these players will be a big part of it. I’ll still watch every Flyers game as usual, but I’m a lot more excited about watching these guys develop. I see many trips up the turnpike and maybe beyond in my future.